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front running

Jon Shampain, naviguesser on board the SC 50 Horizon tells you how they have jumped out to an early first in class and first overall in the Pac Cup to Hawaii…

On course now 3 days and what a wild ride. From yesterday afternoon we’ve been sailing with a #2 Jib Top, Genoa staysail and at night we sailed with a single reefed main. TWA @100-110 degrees. Wind has been solid for 36 hours @ 20-25 kts and there was an ocean fog settling in to the course. We discussed putting the reef in for hours, not wanting to give up an inch in the battle, finally put it in before dark and the boat lost nothing, not even a tenth of a knot of boat speed, sailing flatter, and we now had total control. Sailing mostly in the mid teens, my 18kt speed record was short lived as Tom OKeefe found a big drop and punched it up to 20.1 kts! Then the owner snagged a wave and gained a bit more with a 20.8 and finally late in the afternoon I knocked one out of the park with a 22.8. I’m sure this game will continue. Always set the bar high! Full white water was washing down the decks all night as the seas were beam on and washing over the boat, finding any opening it could and soaking anything in its path. Yesterday (Saturday) the final class started at 1330 and we’re anxious to see how they got away from the bay. If mother nature throws them a curve it could be bonus for our Thursday starters. As it is now, we’ve passed quite a few of the earlier starters because they had to struggle for a few days and we’ve been making 200nm+ day since we left.

Horizon, SC 50 #27 (ex Acy Ducey & Midnight Special) is one of the right choices a sailor could make for a Hawaii Race. The SC50 was originally designed for these types of crossings. Once you get off the wind, even a little the boat lights up. This year was special for us as we got to do an extensive refit and upgrade on the old girl. We opened the transom, added a scoop, removed the toe rail and glassed the hull deck joint both inside and out, reworked a older rudder off of Locomotion, the blazing Andrews 45, a new pedestal and custom carbon wheel, reworked the deck layout, upgraded our instruments and did a hundred of other little projects that have made Horizon more fun and comfortable and a bit faster as well.

We hired Tim Kernan of Kernan Yacht Designs for our technical solutions and we did all the work at Dencho Marine in So Cal. Dennis Choate has been building some of the best racing yachts for decades and seems to have a soft spot for the SC 50. We had seen Rocket, a sistership after a Cabo Race a few years back, on which he had done similar modifications for a family who were taking the SC 50 cruising and the new look was quite impressive. My son and our partner and I had done a similar job on our Hobie 33, Still Crazy a few years earlier just wanting to make a boat we loved to sail a bit more ergonomic and fun. And lets not forget the COOL factor! Remember; "if you don’t look cool you probably aren’t". Dennis’s crew are a very talented bunch and the all work came out beautifully.

Just as we hoped, the big dogs had a bad time of it outside of the Golden Gate and the next morning they were 75nm behind the spot where our class was on our first morning, some 20 hours after starting. If their is any hope of beating these guys we need every break we can get. Standing today have us 1st in class and 1st overall, but out of nowhere the Open Antrim 40, California Condor lit some afterburners and pulled some 27nm on us. Lucky for us she owes us about 12 hours on corrected time, I just hope we can hold her off.

the hip