With Thursday's Pasha Hawaii D division getting underway yesterday afternoon, we now have seven of eight fleets at sea and making miles towards Hawaii, with just one more division left to begin their race today: the BMW of San Rafael E division. As we have been anticipating for more than a week now, the Monday starters have continued to reap the benefits of their early start while the later starters in the week are working their way away from the coast in light airs, though at least they aren't drifting like the Wednesday starters did once they got into the Gulf of the Farallones.
At the head of the fleet remains Charles Devanneaux's Beneteau Figaro 3 A Fond le Girafon, which has proven itself to be the quickest boat over a range of conditions and is now under 1,300 miles to the finish. They are 50+ miles close to Hawaii than the second placed boat, Emmanuel Sauquet's Hanse 505 Outremer. While the line honors leaders and divisional leaders have stayed the same overnight, Sean and Kim Mulvihill on the J/120 Jamani have become your new overall handicap race leader, overtaking Jim Quanci's Cal 40 Green Buffalo in the rankings. Both boats are in the northerly group with Green Buffalo sailing in A Fond le Girafon's wake, well north of the rhumb line, while Jamani is closer to rhumb line though still north of it.
Major developments are beginning to occur down south with the leaders of the southerly group beginning to show course adjustments and changes in speed that would indicate they are just beginning to reach the dreaded light spot that is forecast to engulf much of the fleet. Bill and Melinda Erkelens' Donovan 30 Wolfpack has made major course adjustments and is now heading almost due south; they have fallen well back in the rankings overnight. The entirety of the DH1/ Pau Maui Vodka division is well down south and continuing to make good speed, though if Wolfpack's course is any indication, they could be headed for trouble soon.
The major north-south split that has taken shape in the first wave of starters will begin to play out very quickly, and while the southerly boats looked better off early on, the northerly boats are now beginning to show an advantage. Due to the patchy nature of the breeze and the fluky conditions, it's quite difficult to predict which group will eventually come out ahead. We suspect that the northerly boats will look better in the immediate future, but that the southerly boats will poke their bows into the tradewinds first and gain an advantage. Bottom line; it's still anybody's race and there is almost certain to be a lot of movement on the leaderboard.
The Wednesday and Thursday starters are mostly consolidated along the rhumb line or north of it, and the general consensus seems to be that the quickest way to Hawaii is to go over the top of this low pressure system which is creating the light winds across the race course. In the second wave of starters, Karl Haflinger's J/35 Shearwater at the head of the Weems & Plath B division and Shawn Ivie's Express 37 Limitless leading Alaska Airlines C division, though it's very early and the rankings seem to get slightly shuffled every couple of hours. After a very light first night, most of the Wednesday starters are making speeds in the 4-5 knot range.
Speeds aren't very fast in the Pasha Hawaii D division either, as leader J World's Cazan has slowed significantly along the rhumb line and is doing just a couple of knots, as is her rhumb-line rival Starship, a Santa Cruz 52. Above these two boats which are recently slowing, the rest of the fleet is moving much quicker, sailing at 4-6 knots with Gregory Mullins' custom Farr 52 Zamazaan looking set to assume the divisional lead if Cazan remains slow for much longer.
Notes from the competitors:
-The drone onboard Russ Johnson's Jeanneau 52.2 Blue Moon is reported to have been lost at sea.
-The Evelyn 32 Poke and Destroy is reporting 8 knots of SSW breeze yesterday afternoon, and were reaching along at an apparent wind angle of 67 degrees under a barber-hauled genoa. We believe much of the Wednesday start fleet to have similar conditions.
-Emmanuel Sauquet reports that "we are all having a blast" onboard his Hanse 505 Outremer. Sauquet also put out a notice to other boats that they have passed two unmarked black floating objects about 18 inches in length and trailing about 60 feet of net behind. The locations were 34º 12.9' N, 134º 07' W and 34º 07' N, 134º 40 W. The team was celebrating their first evening under spinnaker and eating their first can of foie gras.
-Charles Devanneax and Matthier Damerval have been enjoying some great sailing onboard A Fond le Girafon yet continue to have a damp, wet ride as they have to constantly pump the bilge due to water ingress.
More to come soon.
Pacific Cup Media 2018