One thing is for certain about the 2018 Pacific Cup; at no point has it ever been a boring race. With constant weather changes, never-ending lead changes, gut-wrenching tactical decisions to be made and huge splits in the fleet as a result, this race is poised to come down to the wire before most, if not all, of the results are decided. For your Pac Cup media team, we very well may need counseling once this race is over as a result of all of the emotional ups and downs of this prolonged adventure that we call the Pacific Cup. Just when we thought a foiling new Beneteau may be first over the line and a storied old green boat with a trophy case full of hardware would add another big one, they both got nearly becalmed up north while a mini-maxi and a west coast sled from the 'bad' start day slipped away from the coast unscathed and began a meteoric rise up through the ranks.
Two days ago, we watched the Mark Mills designed 68' mini-maxi Prospector with interest as they began legging out on their fleet and potentially putting themselves in a position to be first over the line and spoil A Fond le Girafon's Cinderella story. One day ago, chatter of them potentially being a contender for the overall Pacific Cup (though likely not winning their division, more on that later...) began circulating throughout the Pac Cup race team, and now it's beginning to look like a real possibility - if not probability - that Prospector could well claim first to finish, fastest elapsed time and the Pacific Cup overall. With renowned navigator Artie Means calling the shots on routing, the boat is likely to leave very little time on the table when making her way down the race course and into Kaneohe. After the way this race has evolved however, we're not making any bold predictions until boats are nestled in the barn.
While Prospector is beginning to look like a very real contender to win the Pacific Cup overall, they will likely not win their division as the mighty Pyewacket is putting in a performance for the ages to take a commanding lead in the BMW of San Rafael E division. Due to somewhat of a technicality however, Pyewacket will not be eligible for the Pacific Cup overall award as a result of flying a specialty reaching sail that is legal under the ORR rule under which the big boats are racing, but not under PHRF which is the rule that is used to decide the overall Pacific Cup winner. Having said all of that, Pyewacket and her crew of world-renowned sailors including Volvo Ocean Race superstarts Tom Addis, Stu Bannatyne and Kaneohe's own Mark Towill, not to mention 5-time Olympic medallist Torben Grael, have been absolutely on fire since the start and are building up a solid cushion over her divisional rivals, including the other three 'sleds' in the E division, all of which are faster rated boats.
One reason for Prospector's constantly increasing chances of winning the overall Pacific Cup award is that current overall corrected time leader Green Buffalo, Jim Quanci's green Cal 40 that has led since the start, has been sailing below 5 knots of boat speed for more than a day now. Making matters even worse, the Buffalo is pointed south, both on the race course and on the leaderboard. Putting in a daily run of just 65 nautical miles (made good) yesterday, she is on a slippery slope that could see much of the Express 27 fleet, and potentially her Cal 40 rival Highlander move past her in the rankings. Green Buffalo isn't alone either; the Beneteau Figaro 3 A Fond le Girafon, Hanse 505 Outremer and the J/105 Abstract have all been on the same slow-moving pain train, though are just now beginning to re-acclerate. Playing the north very rarely pays dividends in a Hawaii race, and while it looked good while it lasted, it now begins to look more and more like the southerly boats will reap the rewards of making long-term investments early and not picking the low-hanging fruit and easy miles that existed up north in the early stages of this race.
As a result of Douglas Pihlaja's J/105 Abstract getting stuck up north and fading fast in the rankings, the DH2/ Mount Gay Rum doublehanded division has been blown wide open and could now be a four-way battle between four quite different boats; Moore 24 Foamy, Santa Cruz 27 Zipper, Antrim 27 Bacon Berger and the Donovan 30 Wolfpack. Lester Robertson sailed a Moore 24 to Hawaii 38 years ago in the first-ever Singlehanded Transpac and all these years later, Lester is still doing his thing. Owning the south since day one, the little Moore has slowly but surely worked her way up the leaderboard and as of this writing holds a very small margin, just 30 minutes on corrected time, over Alexia Fischer's Santa Cruz 27 Zipper, who has had tracker issues for the duration of the race and does not display properly on the race's YellowBrick tracker. Just a few more hours off the pace, Bacon Berger, the Antrim 27 sailed by Kaneohe Yacht Club Commodore Frederic Berg and Mikey Bacon is more or less gybing down the rhumb line now, while running fairly hot angles and making great speed. Now taking another hitch south is perennial contender and two-time defending division champions Bill and Melinda Erkelens on the Jim Donovan-designed MORC 30 Wolfpack. With one boat working the rhumb line, two boats in the middle and one boat playing the south hard, this race is an absolutely fascinating race between some phenomenal sailors who are pulling out every trick in the playbook.
Our other doublehanded division in this race, the DH1/ Pau Maui Vodka division promised to be a close one from day one, and it certainly has not disappointed. A six-boat one-design Express 27 division, the fleet has stayed in pretty close formation south of the rhumb line and continues to see four boats consistently trading positions on the leaderboard. Alternate Reality is leading at the moment over Loose Cannon, Motorcycle Irene and Fired Up! - in that order - but we don't recommend reading into it too much as the positions are likely to have shuffled again by the time we write our next update. In the wake of the Volvo Ocean Race, this is the best one-design ocean race going right now. One can't forget about Rebecca Hinden's fully-crewed Express 27 Bombora, who has faded slightly on the overall leaderboard but remains a top contender and may even be able to overtake Green Buffalo in the Coral Reef Sailing Apparel A division, after she gained a staggering FIFTY miles on Green Buffalo in the last 24 hours.
The Weems & Plath B division has also seen the boats at the top of the leaderboard compress a bit in the corrected rankings, though Benjamin Rummen's Farr 1220 The Fugitive currently remains atop the leaderboard, though the Swan 46 Free, Davidson 44 Imagine and Grand Soleil 50 Alessandra are all just a handful of hours behind on corrected time. Unfortunately, we must wish our friends on Paul Eichen's Farr 44 Companera a warm aloha, as they have retired from the race, bound for San Diego with rudder issues. All souls onboard are safe and the situation is said to be 'quite manageable'.
Another thrilling battle is that of the Alaska Airlines C division in which Phil Wampold's J/92 Zaff and Dean Treadway's famous Farr 36 Sweet Okole are nearly tied on the tracker's corrected time calculations, though are sailing quite different routes. Okole appears to have just set an A2 or similar and is beginning to soak down to the rhumb line, while Zaff runs just south of rhumb and the Hobie 33 Aloha and the Evelyn 32-2 Poke and Destroy are match racing down the rhumb line to fill the final podium position. One would expect Sweet Okole to benefit from her new rig and assymetrical spinnaker inventory in the later running stages of this race, though again, we're not making any bold predictions in this race as it's proven to be a highly competitive division as originally anticipated.
The Pasha Hawaii D division continues to be controlled by Gregory Mullins' Farr 52 Zamazaan, who has proven themselves to be the class of the fleet in the early stages of this race, jumping out to a commanding lead in division while J World's Hula Girl remains second in fleet, though Chris Kramer's Columbia 32 Six Brothers continues to impress and slowly make gains on Hula Girl as the breeze moves aft and the smaller, lightweight sportboat can begin surfing earlier than her larger, heavier rivals.
The Kolea Cruising division has begun to see some real action on the leaderboard as Emmanuel Sauquet'sHanse 505 Outremer slowed alongside the other northerly boats, allowing her sistership Anais to make inroads into her once commanding lead. Outremer is slowly getting back up to speed, but still remains two knots slower than her sisitership who is well south of her, and continuing to head further south, towards the stronger breeze that may allow her to continue to make gains against her once-dominant sistership which sails with Vendée Globe superstar Tanguy de Lamotte onboard. Paul Koenig's Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 40.3 Bear Boat continues sailing at more than 7 knots, near the rhumb line and relatively close to Anais, and is currently rounding out the cruiser's podium, while James Peo's Jeanneau 379 Knot Behaving also has a steering system that is not behaving. The crew reports that they are running under emergency rudder at a leisurely 5 knots, though they don't seem to perturbed.
Pac Cup Media 2018
Notes from the competitors -
DK 46 - J World's Cazan -
First few days were a little rough on the tummies.
Coach Patrick said, "even the 'head' threw up!" (unfortunately this is true).
Coach Jenna is happy the drifting is over and the chute is up (although the cutter rig - Jibtop and Stay'sl - looked pretty cool)
Everyone is anxious to see sunshine and the stars!
Crew member Lydia is so proud of her brother-in-law Denny, only sailed a few times and took a class at J World in San Diego.
He gets the 4th day award for his effort and enthusiasm and most importantly he rocked the trip-best boatspeed of 12.9 today in 15 knot TW.
Skipper Paul wonders how the game plan of "following navigator Wayne aboard Hula Girl" led to the two boats being on complete opposite ends of the course.
Cinde said, "We are on three hour shifts, four places to sleep between the nine of us? Hot bunks for sure! And we're not even in the trades yet.
Crew are tired but happy for the great experience; everyone drives, trims and grinds. Tons of fun, laughs a plenty!
Cal 40 Highlander -
It's Sunny, hot and freshening breezes! All good things aboard Highlander.
Last night was very difficult - we were heading south trying to get into the stronger breezes, so we could make the right turn to Hawaii. It was very difficult! Breezes in the 3-4 knots range and trying to go almost dead-downwind. We spent the night drifting along at about 4 knots. We want to be doing 10!!!
On the good side, we had a spectacular sunset. Almost no clouds and we all saw the "green flash" at the end. I was recording the Sunset on my GoPro Hero, so I hope it caught it. Then the new moon with Venus bright alongside, slightly lower and to the left - beautiful! It was such a clear sky - the Milky Way clearly visible and you could watch the aircraft flying through the sky. "Honolulu is that way!"
We made slow progress SSW - no squalls at all during the night. The wind stayed constant (very light) all night and this morning we decided to make the right turn. Bombaro had passed across the front of us during the night - we saw their lights - and have overtaken us. Hopefully we can catch the stronger winds sooner (by being further south) and regain our 2nd place.
So today, it's back on starboard tack in beautiful sunny weather. The cold weather clothing is discarded, it now light sunburn preventing shirts and lots of sunscreen while we are making 7 knots towards Kaneohe. This is finally what we endured those first three days for!
Our weather router has us arriving on Monday - let's see!
We crossed our halfway line at 12:34 today, so it's our Halfway party tonight. Dinner will be Thai-style curry and rice.
Best wishes from the crew of Highlander.
Another sad note from the Hanse 505 Outremer -
While waiting for the wind to switch on again, we're having a very slow day that leaves us plenty of time to look around and realize how critical the floating garbage situation is. As we're all engineers onboard, we defined a sampling method to quantify the problem: over 30 minutes of observation on our port side, we counted 30 pieces smaller than 1 inch, 23 pieces smaller than 4 in, 5 pieces larger than 3 feet! We fished out a number of the large pieces and we built a sort of small dragging net for smaller pieces. Tanguy, who has sailed on many oceans, told us that this was by far the largest density of garbage he's ever seen.
Even though we knew about the situation, this extend of it is a real wake up call!
from VERY slow Outremer,
Evelyn 32-2 Poke and Destroy -
We have just completed 24 hours of full-on bite-your-lip and hang-on-to -something sailing! We started out yesterday with champagne sailing the A2 spinnaker*. Early yesterday morning things got sporty with the same sail. We then peeled to the A5 and heated up 20 degrees to the rhumb line and let her RIP! The boat was in full control though the living conditions below were a bit harsh. We crossed paths last night with whom we believe to be Aloha and we are now sailing beam to beam about 2 miles apart. Starting to get thirsty for that mai tai at the finish line!
Mills 68 Prospector - Artie Means, navigator
Quite the differing of opinion between us and Pyewackett…..pretty happy where we are on the southern route; but will take a few days to see who’s right. We had a killer start, led out the gate and been upwind ever since, it is so time for a change! Hopefully pushing some furling sails up later today, before kites tomorrow.
Probably most interesting is to see if the ‘frenchies’ (the foiling Beneteau Figaro 3) can get out of the north. They are leading now, but potentially very tricky to get to Hawaii from there!