Early Starters Split Strategy in Light Air

Azure on the hunt

Nearly twenty-four hours into the 2022 Pacific Cup, the first wave of twenty starters are now well out of the Gate and past the Farallones in what surely been a long and challenging night at sea. With weather forecasts proving accurate, the fleet is still beating into light and variable pressure that appears to be softening even further as of this writing. A result of the light and upwind conditions, the fleet is largely split between port and starboard tack with most boats tacking back and forth as local breeze dictates.


The first boat to clear the Golden Gate and kiss the Pacific in this year’s race was Rodney Pimentel’s beautiful blue Cal 40 Azure, who won a nicely contested start on the pin end. Azure’s one-design rival Duende was forced to tack to port and duck much of the fleet, but now remains hot on Azure’s heels after one day of sailing. Joining Azure and Duende in the north and west pack of boats as of this writing is Amanda and Brian Turner’s Beneteau 10R CruzSea Baby.


The majority of the fleet has chosen a more southerly option and has positioned themselves more to the south, yet not as far to the west. Punched out at the head of that fleet is un-surprisingly Bill and Melinda Erkelens on their Moore 24 Foamy. Darshaun Nadeau’s big Hans Christian cruising boat named Solis is leading the fleet south on the tracker, but is a cruising boat and is not racing; they certainly appear to be motoring through these lightest of conditions.

Many competitors have written in to the Race Committee to communicate their status during these first twenty-four hours and it’s been a lot of the same; ‘light and slow going, no problems to report’. While the conditions offshore may be tedious and frustrating - and likely prevent the Monday starters from placing well in overall standings at the finish - ask any small boat sailor and they’ll likely agree that slipping away from the Northern California coast without even getting water on the deck is pretty nice when compared to getting pummeled by a 30-knot northwesterly on Day 1… Conditions are expected to remain very light and challenging until the wind switches back to a traditional northwesterly flow and returns tomorrow before building later into the week.

The Race Committee is headed back to the St. Francis Yacht Club as of this writing to conduct the second day of starts in the 2022 Pacific Cup. The Mahina Doublehanded 2 division will get underway at 10:50 PDT today, followed by the North Sails and Weems and Plath fully-crewed divisions 10 and 20 minutes later, respectively.

These race starts are scheduled to be broadcast LIVE on Facebook at Pacific Cup Yacht Club. Also, make sure to follow along on both Facebook and @paccuprace on Instagram, as most video and photo content is getting posted to those two accounts. Daily articles will remain here on the website, and the best way to track the fleet is on the excellent YellowBrick tracker at yb.tl/paccup2022 if viewing from a computer or by downloading the ‘YB Races’ app to your smartphone or tablet.

Ronnie Simpson

Pacific Cup Yacht Club

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