July 22 race report

Sunday morning at the Pacific Cup sees a hive of activity, as a majority of the fleet’s leaders and divisional awards winners have reached the dock in Kaneohe and boats are now showing up frequently. Roughly ten boats will reach the docks today with many more overnight and the bulk of the fleet should be in by tomorrow. In stark contrast to 2016 when boats were finishing during a named tropical storm, the majority of arrivals this year have arrived in picture-perfect Hawaii conditions with plenty of sunshine and reliable, pleasant tradewind breeze.

The BMW of San Rafael E division has been officially decided, with the division’s first finisher (Prospector), first sled (Runaway) and first on corrected time (Pyewacket) have all finished and reached the docks. As of this writing, the Santa Cruz 70 Westerly has just crossed the finish line and is en route to Kaneohe Yacht Club with both Blue and Rage due in later this morning. By lunch time, the entire E division should be off the water.

Just a few hours ago, the first two finishers in the DH1 Pau Maui Vodka division arrived, both over night, to decide both first and second place in division. Andy Goodman and Julia Paxton onboard Loose Cannon held off cousin Will Paxton and Zachery Anderson on Motorcycle Irene to claim the divisional win in this once-in-a-lifetime six boat Express 27 division. These little Carl Schumacher designed ultralight displacement boats (ULDBs) have written many incredible chapters in the history of this race, and the year that they put six boats on the line during the 20th edition is perhaps the most incredible of all. The rest of the Express 27 fleet should finish in the next 24 hours with Alternate Reality and Fired Up! locked into a close battle to fill the final podium spot. 

With both Wolfpack and Bacon Berger in for more than 24 hours to claim first and second place in division, the rest of the DH2/ Mount Gay Rum division should be decided today with both Zipper and Foamy due in later today. For Lester Robertson and Randy Parker on Foamy, the two Moore 24 sailors have sailed the fleet’s smallest boat more than 2,000 miles and are poised to land on the podium. Cautiously approaching the finish line as of this writing is Douglas Pihlaja’s J/105 Abstract, which sustained an intermediate shroud failure as they were sending their 25-mile check in. The rig is still up, the main is now double-reefed and both sailors onboard report no injury. 

The two most exciting divisions in the race at this point are the Pasha Hawaii D division and the Alaska Airlines C division. In Pasha Hawaii D, Rufus Sjoberg’s Melges 32 Rufless now has a resounding lead in division, while J World’s Hula Girl has finally eroded Zamazaan’s lead and moved into second place in division. An unexpected development over the last two days has been that Six Brothers has moved down the leaderboard in the later stages of this race. We haven’t heard anything from Chris and crew, so we can only speculate as to the cause. For Rufus and his crew, these last miles are surely to be savored as some of the best of his and crew’s long and illustrious careers. Brilliance and insanity can often be separated by a very fine line, and in 2018, sailing the Melges 32 to Hawaii looks like a brilliant move. 

Alaska Airlines C is still a barn-burner, which has just seen the division’s most storied boat move into first place in division. Dean Treadway’s classic Farr 36 Sweet Okole, with a very talented crew aboard and a recent round of modifications to keep her on the cutting edge, has been owning the north for days and with their new carbon rig and inventory of assymetrical spinnakers are making great boat speed compared to the competition. They’ve slowly eroded Zaff’s lead and as of this writing have just a one hour lead, with Poke and Destroy a further six hours back. Poke and Destroy may find a bit more pressure than her more northerly rivals, but at this point it’s just a drag race to the barn in three very well sailed, albeit quite different, designs. Alaska Airlines C has been a phenomenal race to follow, with constant lead changes every day, with the bulk of the fleet due in on Tuesday. 

Weems & Plath B division remains unchanged from yesterday with J/35 Shearwater leading The Fugitive, Alessandra, Free and Imagine, with more than two days to go. Shearwater has built a bit of a cushion while the next four boats continue to duke it out for second and third place in division. While they didn’t make any gains on the race course yesterday, Wyatt Jones’ Davidson 44 Imagine surely had a good time yesterday and heavily supplemented their remaining food stocks by landing what they estimate to be a 50+ pound wahoo, or ‘ono’ as they call it in Hawaii. For those keeping track at home, ‘ono’ is also the word for delicious. You do the math on that one. 

Coral Reef Sailing Apparel A remains tight, just a few hours separating Green Buffalo  and Bombora, though time is running out and the wind remains a bit too light for the smaller, lighter Express 27 to surf her way to the top of the leaderboard. As of this writing, Green Buffalo was just four hours or so away from the finish. The top two cruisers are in, separated by about one evening’s worth of darkness as Matt Solhjem’s Hanse 505 Anaïs finished around sunset yesterday evening and Emmanuel Sauquet’s sistership Outremer arrived this morning. 

As the week continues to roll along, our focus will shift away from these daily race reports and to focus on the arrivals, which are happening at an ever-increasing pace. 

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