If you’re looking for an excuse to ditch work this week, we suggest you sneak out the back door, head down to your boat and go witness the departure of the 2012 Pacific Cup fleet. This is the 17th edition of the 2,070-mile San Francisco-to-Hawaii race, which ends at Oahu’s Kaneohe Bay.
As always, the entry list has been broken down so boats that are theoretically slower will start first (beginning today at 1 p.m.) and the fastest boats will start last (Thursday at 2:45 p.m.), with additional starts Tuesday and Wednesday.
It’s as fair a system as anyone’s been able to come up with, but needless to say, sailing conditions from one day to the next are the wild card here. Strong winds around 25 knots are predicted for this afternoon, but looking at the long-range forecast, some racers, including the always-competitive Andy Costello, skipper of the J/125 Double Trouble, think later starters may luck out: “We’ve started to look at the weather and it’s looking better for our start later in the week than it is for the earlier starts, so that may help us get to Hawaii faster.”
With 46 boats, ranging in size from 30 to 68 feet, the PacCup’s fleet size is down a bit, but should be as hotly contested as in years past. For a complete preview of this year’s event see the current (July) issue of Latitude 38 magazine, available for free at marine retailers all along the West Coast, or download the issue for free at our website.
After Bela Bartok‘s unfortunate abandonment early yesterday morning, 22 boats remain in the Singlehanded TransPac fleet, the last five of which will be finishing the race in the next two days. After Turbo Camper and Green Buffalo swept into lush Hanalei Bay on Friday, the bulk of the racers decided the Race Committee — including this editor — needed to earn their ‘vacation’ on Kauai and staged their arrivals one right after the other at all hours of the day and night.
Late Saturday night, Ronnie Simpson on his Moore 24 Hope for the Warriors arrived 42 minutes before Peter Heiberg on his Palmer Johnson 50 Scaramouche, and late last night George Lythcott aboard his Express 27 TAZ!! led the way for Mike Jefferson on his Garcia Passoa 47 Mouton Noir, who came in 48 minutes later.
As amazing as those close finishes are for a 2,000-mile ocean race, they’re nothing compared to what had come earlier. Brian Boshma on his Olson 34 Red Sky and Jerome Sammarcelli on the Pogo 2 Mini Team Open Sailing tied with Cliff Shaw on the Crowther 10m Rainbow and Dave Morris on the custom Wylie 31 Moonshadow for the closest finishes in TransPac history. Red Sky crossed the line four minutes ahead of Team Open Sailing on Saturday with Rainbow and Moonshadow following suit the next morning!
As happy as each skipper was to be greeted with a lei and their drink of choice, it almost seemed as if their families were even happier, as evidenced by the following photos. We’ll have a final update on the race in Wednesday’s ‘Lectronic, as well as the August issue of Latitude 38, but in the meantime, catch the final finishes on the race’s website.
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After crossing 3,000 miles of open ocean en route to French Polynesia, it’s only natural that sailors would want to get together and socialize. But as one South Pacific cruiser pointed out, "The trouble is, with all those cruiser get-togethers, you can go through your entire stash of beer, wine and liquor in short order."
In Tahiti that’s a problem, because beer, wine and booze are very expensive. But as the crew of Seattle-based Amel Super Maramu 53 Delos found out a couple of years ago, if you know where to look and bring the right paperwork, you can buy liquor tax-free prior to leaving, because you’re aboard a yacht in transit.
Regular readers will recall the crazy antics of the Delos crew, which grew from the fact that they’d bought dozens of five-liter Heineken mini-kegs before leaving Papeete (for about $15 US each). When we ran into them at Tonga’s Regatta Vava’u in September of 2010, skipper Brian Trautman was wearing a green suit of armor constructed entirely of keg remnants. Unfortunately, by that point he couldn’t remember the name of the liquor distributor.
It took a while, but we now have that info, thanks to our Tahitian partners, Cindy and Maryline, at the yacht agency CMA-CGM in Papeete. If you’ll be heading to French Polynesia in the future, see the updates section of the Pacific Puddle Jump website for complete info. And remember, when you raise a glass in Tahiti, the proper toast is "Manuia," as in, "Manuia to ya!"