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inside game, part 2

post race

inside game, part 2

Part 2 of Ronnie Simpson’s Singlehanded Transpac adventure. ( Part 1 )

But the breeze eventually filled and the race was back on. Idefix was ahead of me by 120 miles, and I had breeze again. I pushed absolutely as hard as I could to catch him. At one point, I flew the kite for more than 50 straight hours, only dropping it twice to back down for trash, and twice for squalls. But I couldn’t catch him. Idefix still managed to pull away from me. I took back miles on a few radio checks, but for the most part he was beating me on a consistent basis. At first I wanted to blame the wind for me being behind, but at this point, I was just being out-sailed.

As I realized that Adrian was out of reach and would probably win our class, I backed off a bit. I found the boat to be an absolute handful and with 2nd in class more or less secured, I decided to just concentrate on getting the boat to Kauai safely and not breaking Don’s boat. I was flat beat at that point. No matter how much I tried trimming the sails and adjusting the autopilot, I could not prevent the boat from rounding up. The pilot just would not steer the big kites. So I pretty much lived in the cockpit on "round up patrol" and "squall watch". I remember on multiple occasions waking up in the cockpit (clipped in of course) just in time to save a round up. And one most memorable instance, when I was on my knees pissing off the transom (still clipped in) and the boat decided to round up. So back up to the helm, board shorts still around my ankles, peeing all over myself and the cockpit, so that I can stop the pilot, dump the sheet, drive down, sheet back in, etc. But that’s what single-handing is all about. It’s not always pretty, but you get there.

And if you get there fast, that’s even better. I will give the Mount Gay 30 some serious props here though. When it rounds up or broaches, it does so gently, and just lays flat in the water, with water coming almost up to the companionway hatch, but not in. Absolutely brilliant design. Get her dialed and she is an absolute joy to sail. Because of the whole round up issue, I spent hours upon hours driving the boat, and while I didn’t always like it at the time, I already look back on how much fun it was. Surfing down wave after wave of tradewind swell, surfing into the teens while you’re by yourself in the middle of an ocean, for days on end, is something that can only be experienced. You simply can not describe the beauty in it. And the nights of tradewind sailing under full moon and often squally conditions were amazing. I always read articles on SA about guys doing the Vendee or what not and dreamed of that moment. When I finally got the breeze and tried to reel in Adrian, I pushed so hard that first night and that was the night of my life. Warrior’s Wish and I were freakin’ rocking it. It was magic. Full kite on a powered up boat like a Mt. Gay 30 and i’m surfing while plotting my course and Idefix’s. I was looking at gribs, figuring out my strategy, trimming sails, navigating, driving, etc. For the first time in my life I really felt like a sailor and proved myself, to myself, if that makes sense.

At the 9 AM (Cali time) check in on my final morning, I was 70 some odd miles outside of Hanalei. Just 7 hours later, I was entering Haalei Bay under full main and full kite on the 4th of July. The sun was out, the water was a brilliant blue and I had just enjoyed the most amazing downwind romp of my life, hitting a high speed for the trip of just over 15 knots. My brother and friends were on a chase boat to greet me, stiff drink in hand, and my girlfriend wasn’t far behind. There hadn’t been a more perfect moment in my life. I had completed the Singlehanded Transpac and exorcised the personal demons of two years before. Adrian on Idefix sailed an unbelievable race, and sailed to a convincing and deserved class and overall win. He pushed me hard, made me a better sailor, and more importantly became my friend. We arrived in Hanalei with a deep respect for one another, as I think all skippers in the fleet felt for one another. The Singlehanded Transpac might be a race, but I think it is with the most gracious and friendly group of people that you could ever ask for.

In the end, I was the 2nd monohull to cross the line and finished 2nd in class on corrected time as well. I wanted to win and I tried to win, but i’m happy with my result. All in all, this was a wonderful experience and I enjoyed every minute of it. (In hindsight of course).

This race, for me, was only possible with the help of a million and one people. Boat owner Don Gray, first and foremost. This was his idea from the onset, and he was always there for me. The guy has been like a brother. And a father. No one could ask for a better friend than what he’s done for me. The guy loaned me his boat, helped pay for things when I couldn’t, transported it to Cali, and came to see me off. Hell, I lived in his house for 2 months last winter while working on it. And to all of my great sponsors who helped me along the way. "Hope for the Warriors", who was my title sponsor and just a wonderful organization to work with. As a wounded war vet, their mission is something I truly believe in. Bay Marine Boatworks, Marina Village Yacht Harbor, Bluestorm Foul weather gear, West Marine Alameda rig shop, PYI Inc, Interlux, Go Pro cameras, Lifeline batteries, Cal Marine Electronics, Spinnaker Sailing, Wolverine Inflatable’s, and probably others that i’m missing. And of course this whole thing started with an article on Sailing Anarchy last October… So thanks to SA and the whole community for nothing but love and support from the start.

Now the return voyage….. Singlehanding to Oahu to provision and work on the boat. Ed McCoy from "Anarchy" is my delivery crew back. He will be double-handing back from Oahu to San Francisco with me. The dude is a rock star, so it should be fun and I can learn a lot from a sailor of his level!

-Ronnie Simpson