Every so often I get to travel to a great destination to participate in an unforgettable regatta. This past weekend was one of those times. The 70th annual Lahina to Honolulu race was held and I flew over to Maui to meet up with the new owner of the Andrews 45 Locomotion and be part of his team.
First off if you have never been to Maui then go. Second, if you do not want to race across the Pacific to sail in the legendary Molokai channel then just fly over and do this race. Saturday was a buoy regatta off Lahaina in light air. It was fun and enjoyable with a beautiful backdrop but not the most exciting day of racing.
Now onto what I flew out here for. We motored up to Honolua Bay at 5am for an 8am start. Think that is early? I was in bed at 8pm so I could be ready for this. Now most places I sail it is light air in the morning…. Not here. With the wind already ripping in the 20’s we hid inside Honolua Bay and waited for our start. There was an eclectic group of boats. Racers, cruisers, IOR, Antrim 27, J-80 and pretty much everything. Each boat had a different mission on this race. I was here to help John and his team and try to get the most out of Locomotion in what should be ideal conditions for her.
So lets talk about the other missions… No names here but one boat, that happened to be towing another boat to the start line in the early morning, was having a grand old time shooting clay pigeons off the black of their boat. Sounds fun and safe? Well somehow someone managed to shoot a hole in the transom Captain Ron style! See picture above if you do not believe me. Pretty good way to calm the nerves of a 100 mile race in what was to be 35kts of wind.
And onto the picture Scott so generously posted the other day. So the old IOR boat Good Times has a pretty interesting program. Local Maui dude Killer (yes that’s all I know) has the reputation of being one of the nicest and fun guys around. He and his son load the boat every year with what I would call talent and do the race in cruising class. Keep in mind this is not a Newport to Ensenada Race… This is some intense sailing. So Killer, his son and sometimes another guy or so get a bunch of nice ladies and party parade Good Times a hundred miles to Oahu. Yes that picture is after the start of the 2013 edition and I met the crew this year, it was just the same. These girls were really cool and stoked to experience such an amazing adventure. I am sure most sailors dream about sailing in this region (heck that’s why people spend a lot of money doing Transpac just to get here).
Now onto my race… If you are still even interested in it. We had a tough start but managed to get things going with the 4A up heading towards Molokai Island. Wind was in the 20’s as we jibed and headed towards Lanai and out into the slot as they call it around these parts. Wind was building and seas were getting bigger. Our next jibe was a little more intense. Two runners stuck under the main in 30 plus knots is interesting stuff.
Check out this video of a little more troubled jibe. My new friend Lolo showed me this last night. This is from the boat she was sailing on Stardust. Make sure you notice the round down that starts around the 3-minute mark. I recommend watching the whole video and listening to the bowman because it is good stuff. One of the best on board captures I have ever seen. The good recovery and chill demeanor on this board shorts crew is also something to admire.
Well we got that sorted out and back on the step! Driving Loco in big breeze is a good time. With the wind peaking at 35 or so I was able to keep a steady 18 with a top speed of 22.5. It was like Driving Miss Daisy to the park as my Transpac skipper on Warrior said one morning in similar conditions.
We were feeling pretty good as we got to the end of Molokai island. Only problem was there was a little Antrim 27 going pretty good with only 30 miles left. Oh yeah it is still only like 10:30am at this point, I love Hawaii sailing. So into the channel we go and the wind goes forward. We choose to jib reach for a little ways with hope of getting the 3A up and doing some damage. Well we did damage as we ripped the foot of the 3A on the hoist and essentially ended our chances.
The crew on Locomotion were great! They are still learning the boat and are eager to get her sailing to her potential. It is a powered up high performance machine and will take some time but they have a few things going for the. They are not scared of big breeze (no one here is), they are motivated and have a great skipper who wants to improve. The racing here is a little more laid back and the priorities are not the same but we are all searching for the same thing… An epic sail and an epic day doing the thing we love to do. I can only hope to come back and do some more races around these beautiful islands.
Special thanks to Lolo and Pablo for showing me around the local side of things in Honolulu and telling me some great stories that I now got to share with you guys.
Check out our short video from the race.