July 23 race report

Another day at the Pacific Cup in Kaneohe, and another day where the docks are filling, the party continues to grow and the arrivals are filtering in around the clock. Many fleets are now entirely across the finish line and off the water, meaning that the media team is definitely shifting gears from covering ‘the race’ to covering the arrivals, as much of the racing has ended, though a a few battles still rage on.

Rufus Sjoberg and crew on the Melges 32 Rufless finished just a couple of hours ago, making both Pacific Cup and offshore sailing history. One of the most famous platforms in the history of ultra high-performance and one-design sailing history, the Melges 32 is a boat renowned around the world for it’s ability to attract huge fleets of top-tier talent on the global stage. When converted to race in handicap trim, the venerable Reichel/ Pugh design has written a long history of absolutely slaying big handicap fleets. While many would never even dream of taking one of these boats offshore, renowned Bay Area boat builder and pro sailor Rufus Sjoberg and his talented, lively crew on Rufless has been sailing their Melges 32 both inshore and offshore around San Francisco Bay for years. After a rough ride across the Pacific in the notoriously windy 2016 edition of the race, they have now come back stronger and better prepared, and with mother nature serving up the conditions that they needed to win, they have made history as the first Melges 32 to ever win a Category 1 ocean race. Massive congratulations to Rufus and the crew! Coming in several hours ahead on the water, but about six hours behind on corrected time is J World’s Hula Girl, one of the most highly modified and fastest Santa Cruz 50’s out there. Skippered by Wayne Zittel of J World Sailing School and carrying a crew mostly comprised of paying students, Hula Girl set a course record for the SC50’s in the 2016 race to win her division, and has now backed that up with an impressive second in division finish, just a couple of hours ahead of Greg Mullins’ wicked up professional crew on the Farr 52 Zamazaan.

The hottest race still on the water is the Alaska Airlines C division, where Dean Treadway’s famed Farr 36 Sweet Okole still holds a narrow lead over Phil Wampold’s J/92 Zaff. Okole’s more northerly route, combined with a breeze that is now shifting to slightly south of east may well open the window for Zaff to come in lit up and potentially close the 2-hour gap on Okole, with the smaller J/92 still having some 200 miles yet to sail. For Sweet Okole, they look to be on a very tight angle, which may even see them in a reaching sail or jib top instead of a spinnaker, and potentially sailing more miles than necessary. Lurking in the shadows only six hours off the lead on corrected time is Alex Simanis and crew on the Evelyn 32-2 Poke and Destroy, who are making nearly 10 knots - some 1-2 knots fasters than her rivals - and are desperately trying to claw back ground and come back for an improbable win.

Weems & Plath B division remains much the same as yesterday with Karl Haflinger’s J/35 Shearwater making fantastic speed down the rhumb line and continuing to lead in division by nearly nine hours, further cementing their place atop the leaderboard and putting themselves in a great position to cap off this long and hard earned divisional win. Second through fifth places remain the same with The Fugitive, Alessandra, Free and Imagine continuing to duke it out with less than three hours separating the four boats in their battle for both second and third place.

Over night, a ton of boats finished including J World’s Hula Girl, Bombora, Alternate Reality, Foamy, Highlander, and more. Jim Quanci’s very accomplished Cal 40 officially added another feather to her cap with a win in Coral Reef Sailing Apparel A division, while Rebecca Hinden’s crewed Express 27 Bombora looks to have held on to second place with just one boat still on the water, the Morgan 382 Eliana.

Several boats came in yesterday, nursing their wounded boats into the finish after sustaining gear breakages on the race course. Notably, the Wylie 70 Rage finished 6th place in E division with a broken upper spreader. J/105 Abstract broke an intermediate shroud shortly after their 25-mile check in and came in under reefed main and poled out jib. Also, Cal 40 Highlander came in for a 4th place in Dvision A finish with a broken boom. Well done to all of these teams who persevered to finish the race despite major damage!

Daily race reports will continue to get shorter and shorter as boats get off the race course, and will be replaced by more crew reactions and daily interviews and video edits. Media guy Ronnie spent all night editing video and just posted up a weekend recap video this morning. And if you missed it, don’t forget to check out the Friday recap video, which covers the first two starters. 

Aloha from Kaneohe!

-Ronnie Simpson

Pac Cup Media 2018