wheels down

Another excellent report from Quantum Sails’ Will Paxton on board the Dehler 46  Favonius as they continue to dominate div 7 on their way to Hawaii. just 160 nm from the finish at this point…

Please bring your seats to the upright position, stow your tray tables, and pass your trash to the aisle…

Actually saw surprisingly little trash this trip given the northerly routing. Perhaps all those efforts to collect it are working? Surely there is a lot more to do there!

And another side note- I often tell my friends that haven’t done it yet who ask what it’s like to cross the big blue sea… I tell them to imagine that every 30 mins looking out the window on the plane is a day sailing on the ocean!

But here we are now on the final approach with just under 200 miles to go. Up to this point it’s been a fairly classic race with a long race on starboard gybe to dig into the lift and then pick your layline on port gybe for the finish knowing that you will be continually headed on the 800 mile trip on port to the Molokai channel. There is a great game of chicken played there as the boat furthest west will be inside the shift and boats to their left will pay a heavy price if they don’t lay the finish if they have to take a 2 gybe step over against the shift. On the other hand if you ‘over bake it’ and go too far there is a long list of boats that had to sneak back up to the Molokai channel with jibs up to make the finish so beware!

This layline call and the final approach to the islands I like to call ‘submarine warfare’. Picture every navigator in their hot and sweaty nav station working under red lights in front of their computer, every screen lit up and sat phone on line continually hitting refresh tying to gather the most information to make the call. With the 4-hour delay leaders are watching for a change in their competitor’s track so they can surmise their current position and cover.

Chasers are trying to sneak to the right or maybe make the leader think they are and overstand? Many a boat has gybed and then gybed back at roll call hoping to cause some confusion for the opposing navigator. Often it’s a great game of ‘he knows that I know that he knows that I know all the way to the final approach of the finish!

In our fleet final positions are fairly certain and we are focused as a goal on trying to hang onto a slim lead over the SC50 Oaxaca in the next division with my cousin onboard for bragging rights. The boat is littered with funny commentary from the boat captain written on little notes about ‘not getting your pole wet’ and what sort of person stands in the hatch in front of the instruments.

One crew has picked up the title of Rambo for running around with no shirt and his harness on and always seeming to pop out of the hatch at just the right time in this outfit. Yet another shall forever be known as ‘Princess’ for sneaking a freshwater shower and always needing his personal driving pad to stand on.

As I prepare for my final navigator duties of the 100-mile check-in and finish communications I reflect on how quickly we have shrunk the ocean. At the beginning, you start with a weather chart that covers half the Pacific Ocean and a zoom-out level that you need a globe for context. Now with a couple hundred miles to go all the details of the islands are fleshed out and the whole race seems to fit in the palm of your hand. This race like my previous 20 or so will stand out for its own unique sailing challenges and comraderies. Super looking forward to seeing all my fellow competitors, family, and friends to celebrate our arrival in Waikiki!

Up on deck there is music and laughter and I’m headed up to enjoy the rest of the journey with my friends.

Cheers until later,

Navigator Will / Team Favonius