6 AM on Sunday morning July 15 again shows movement all over the leaderboard and all over the race track, with several major developments occurring overnight. Perhaps most importantly, the Wednesday and Thursday starters, who had been going painfully slow since sailing out under the Golden Gate Bridge, have finally hooked into moderate northerly pressure that has them reaching towards Hawaii and putting them on track to make their first respectable daily runs of the race. Meanwhile, at the head of the fleet, the first wave of starters continue to make decent boat speed down the course while beginning to plan ahead for the finish. Most notably, the first wave's fastest and most northerly boat, Charles Devanneaux's Beneteau Figaro 3 A Fond le Girafon has gybed over to port and is now pointing directly at the Hawaiian Islands. Now under 1,000 miles to go, the revolutionary new foiling one-design offshore racer has slowed significantly but retains a commanding lead in her quest to become the first boat over the finish line. Though A Fond le Girafon is racing with an "experimental" rating, meaning that she won't be eligible for overall awards, Devanneaux and co-skipper Matthieu Damerval are writing a beautiful chapter in the long story of this race.
Jim Quanci and his Cal 40 Green Buffalo continue to lead the race overall on corrected time. With the forecast staying more or less the same, meaning moderate tradewinds down the race track, Green Buffalo is constantly strengthening her grip on overall honors. When legendary naval architect Bill Lapworth first penned the Cal 40 design on a cocktail napkin in the 60's, he did so with the intent of building a production racer that would excel in off-the-breeze conditions and win races to Hawaii. Incredibly, more than half a century later, his designs are running 1-2 overall in the 20th running of the Pacific Cup, further adding to the many accomplishments of this legendary design.
Another boat that is sailing a phenomenal race, Douglas Pihlaja's J/105 Abstract retains her corrected-time lead in the DH2/ Mount Gay Rum division and continues her slow and steady march up the leaderboard; a remarkable accomplishment for a doublehanded entry, again proving the versatility of the J/105 design. Abstract's lead is anything but secure however, as Frederic Berg and Mikey Bacon on the Antrim 27 Bacon Berger are rumbling down the rhumb line and matching Abstract on boat speed. With just a small increase in pressure, which the boats should sail themselves into fairly soon, the little 27-foot speedster should be able to begin surfing just slightly, and will aim to close the gap. Sean and Kim Mulvihill's J/120 Jamani is currently rounding out the podium, also from the northerly group, giving us our first indication that the northerly option may well prove to have been a winning move. Once these three northerly boats gybe towards the islands and begin consolidating with their southerly rivals, they should cross well in front. North doesn't often pay in a Hawaii race, but the 2018 Pacific Cup is has proven to be a slightly atypical year thus far.
DH1/ Pau Maui Vodka has turned into a barn burner with the top 4 boats in this 6-boat Express 27 fleet compressing significantly on the leaderboard. Most notably perhaps is that pre-race favorites Will Paxton and Zachery Anderson have slipped to 4th in division on Motorcycle Irene. Before the race, the dockside chatter wasn't just if Irene would be able to win the division, but by how much. In the early reaching stages, Irene showed a significant boat speed advantage, likely due in large part to a very customized and tricked-out sail inventory with specialty reaching jibs. Now going dead downwind in light to moderate trades, the 27-footer has found herself in a close battle with current division leader Fired Up!, while Alternate Reality and Loose Cannon round out the podium. With many sailing fans experiencing withdrawal symptoms after a thrilling conclusion to the Volvo Ocean Race, these 6 Express 27's look to fill the void by crossing gybes all the way into Kaneohe for what should be a thrilling finish.
The highly-anticipated Alaska Airlines C Division continues to live up to expectations with Dean Treadway's Farr 36 Sweet Okole and Phil Wampold's J/92 Zaff swapping the corrected-time divisional lead on seemingly every check-in. Okole will likely hold an advantage in dead-downwind running through moderate conditions, owing to her longer waterline length and her spinnaker pole, which will allow her to square back and run deeper, while Zaff's lighter weight and more modern design may allow her to begin surfing just a bit sooner. For now however, the boats are locked into a tight duel while the others look to begin making inroads into their lead. Shawn Ivie's Express 37 LImitless, currently in third place in division, appears to have thrown in a gybe to the south just before this writing, and will certainly be a boat to watch in the future.
The big, 10-boat Weems & Plath B division has unfortunately gotten one boat smaller as Michael Chobotov's Jeanneau 49 Venture has withdrawn from the race and is en route back to San Francisco. With a very slow start and some of the crew having other commitments that they feared may be missed by a delayed arrival in Kaneohe, we are gutted to see Venture make an about face, almost exactly at the same time as the fleet reached the northerly pressure. A big aloha and mahalo to our friends on Venture, we sincerely hope that this boat and crew will come back in 2020 to take care of unfinished business, with a crew that is unencumbered by outside commitments. At the head of the fleet, Benjamin Rummen's Farr 1220 The Fugitive continues to lead while Wyatt Jones' Davidson 44 Imagine has solidified her grip on second place. With a veteran Pac Cup navigator in Paul Kamen, Imagine may be a somewhat unexpected threat to grab the lead further on down the track.
[Editor's Note: Limitless, in the Alaska Airlines division C, has also reluctantly made the decision to return to the barn. Citing steering problems (lower bearing, it seems), they have opted for the better part of valor. All well on board.]
Pasha Hawaii D division looked to be blown wide open by J World's Cazan making a decisive move to the south early on, and threatening to hook into pressure while her northerly rivals drifted, but with the arrival of moderate northerlies for the rest of the fleet, Gregory Mullins' Farr 52 Zamazaan and her highly talented and experienced crew, have moved into the divisional lead and are making great speed towards Hawaii. Just off her hip, J World's Hula Girl is matching her on boat speed and looking towards the downwind conditions later in the race to make her move. At the back of the fleet, the two small sports boats - Rufus Sjoberg's Melges 32 Rufless and Chris Kramer's Columbia 32 Six Brothers - struggled in the light conditions early, and will now look toward the stronger winds and the downwind conditions later in the race to try to get back in touch with her larger, longer rivals.
South of the Wednesday and Thursday starters, the 'big' boats in the BMW of San Rafael E division are beginning to stretch their legs in the north-north westerly breeze that will carry them towards the trades. The Mills 68 Prospector has a commanding lead boat-for-boat, while Roy Pat Disney's Pyewacket has not surprisingly jumped out to a big lead on corrected time. Michael Schoendorf's Riptide 41 Blue has begun to accelerate in the stronger winds as she tries to keep touch with the bigger boats, biding their time until reaching the trades and getting into the downwind conditions that will better allow her to sail to her rating.
In the cruiser division, Emmanuel Sauquet's Hanse 505 Outremer remains in 2nd place on line honors while sistership Anais has faded after sailing very slowly yesterday along the rhumb line. Many in the cruising fleet slowed more significantly during the light air than their racing rivals and are beginning to get back up to pace.
With a strong contingent of French sailors in this fleet, we again wish everyone a happy Bastille Day - where there were many onboard celebrations - on the eve of another huge day for our French friends, as France plays Croatia to decide the 2018 World Cup.
Notes from the competitors -
From Charles Devanneaux onboard the Beneteau Figaro 3 A Fond le Girafon -
Skipper's Report - 7
Girafon is turbo charged!
We jibe in the very near future off to the Mai-Tai freeway on-ramp: arrival in 4 – 5 days depending on that bubble we must cross.
Today was our Captain’s traditional lunch in memory of my friend Gilles and our departed Captains: my Dad of course, and our friend Scott who left us 2 months ago and raced with me in 2011.
Today’s menu al fresco:
- Duck rillettes from Perigord on dry toast
- Duck confit parmentier
- A nice Margaux on the side
All is well!
So much crap floating on the ocean: this morning we had to navigate through hundreds of fishing traps adrift.
We will cheer the French Team tomorrow morning and follow live on our giant screen TV in the cockpit.
Warren Holybee's Morgan 382 Eliana reports that they caught their first fish yesterday, a tuna, and feasted on fresh fish tacos for dinner.
A perpetually upbeat Emmanuel Sauquet onboard Outremer reports that they dined on a Bastille Day celebratory dinner featuring Cassoulet and saint emilion, all for 14th of July. "I let you imagine what tomorrow will be when we celebrate the world cup , and the jibe
to Hawaii!", added Sauquet. On a more somber note, Sauquet reports "The only dark point is the incredible amount of junk floating around: mostly plastic parts, fishing ropes and nest. The junk density seemed to have increased since we crossed the 141W longitude. To all other boats, keep an eye for these debris!"
From the Evelyn 32-2 Poke and Destroy -
We finally have a northerly breeze. Light, but the spinnaker is up on a starboard jibe.
It was a tough night again, trying to avoid this low that has been chasing
us the whole trip. It’s like a very long Swiftsure** race out here. We had enchiladas
and coffee for breakfast. Had a max speed of 7kts today. The breeze has let
up, but it goes in waves.
A note, we are running in very cloudy skies, so if you do not hear from
us tomorrow, we are conserving power.
From J World's Cazan -
Coach Paul report: lots of teamwork! First time working with an entirely family crew; great fun!
Coach Patrick report: eccentric fun group, lots of questions, humor. They get the 'clean crew award'.
Coach Jenna report: very fun crew makes time on deck fly by, really great to see improvement in driving skills.
Co-Skipper George report; best so far is seeing the look on my sisters face! Dad would be proud! Having family and friends aboard is heartwarming, even when it's slow going... 00.00.
The resident artist has seen forests, massive cities, dragons and ecstatic glowing dolphins. 3 hour shifts help keep our focus in the light stuff. WHAT DAY IS IT? ONLY THE START OF OUR THIRD DAY
and from J World's Hula Girl -
Ok, we are coming up on 2 days into the 2018 Pacific Cup, but you wouldn't know it by looking at our position plot here aboard J/World's Hula Girl. We are still much too close to SF Bay. It's not supposed to be like this. It wasn't like this for the Monday starters: the little boats took off with solid breeze early in the week and they are still trucking along, way in front of us, and getting farther away.
Meanwhile, we won't even hit the 200 mile marker before the race timer gets to 48 hours. This mean little low pressure has killed the breeze right across the middle of the course and there is no way around it for our fleet. Looks like the big boats (that started a day behind us) have a route to the south. But alas, we just couldn't get there from here, and are going to have to tough it out. We have been making what progress we can in each puff, and I have to say it's really weird being on port tack at this part of the race. C'mon, why did this light southerly have to come foul up our typical blast to the ridge??
Ah well, so it goes. When we decided to join the race from San Francisco Bay to Hawaii, we agreed to wrestle with whatever mother nature decided to deal our way. And this - while not brochure material - is not really so bad. So beyond the weather frustrations and musings, life is good aboard Hula Girl. I'm sure the crew is growing weary of both the constant sail changes and the navigator asking for the impossible ("I need you 20 degrees higher... and keep the boat speed over 7 knots, for crying out loud..."). But everyone is getting along fantastically despite the less than ideal conditions. Or maybe *because* the less than ideal conditions: adversity being the catalyst for cooperation? Now there's a concept we could use more of these days!
So to the North we have Zamazaan, maybe looking to get into the breeze that is supposed ti fill up from up there first. To the south is our other J/World boat, Cazan, making good tracks along the rhumb line and currently winning our division. We are getting closer to the low and it's highly unstable right now, so it's going to be interesting to see how this plays out!
That's it for now.... more soon!
Team Hula Girl