The 2,070-mile ‘Fun Race to the Land of Leis and Plate Lunch’ started Sunday at 10:30 a.m, with the three boats in the Holo Holo Cruising Division hitting the starting line off the St. Francis YC. They got away in a nice breeze, and as of very early Monday were moving nicely away from the coast. Michael Chobotov’s Jeanneau 49 Venture was the lead boat, moving along at 9.0 knots.
There were two starts this morning (Monday), and there will be additional starts on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. A total of 56 boats, between 24 and 92 feet, are expected to participate. This is the 17th running of the Pacific Cup, which was started by the small but ambitious Ballena Bay YC of Alameda in 1980.
What’s noteworthy about this year’s fleet is that 15 of the 56 entries — 26.7% — are doublehanded entries. Doublehanders have taken overall honors in the Pacific Cup in the past, and it could happen again this year.
Like to watch? Your best and perhaps last chance to watch the boats take off will be from the Golden Gate Bridge. Friday’s Latitude 38
Big Boat Division start would probably be the most interesting. Like to follow? All boats will be carrying Yellowbrick Trackers. You can track them here
As is the case with all staggered-start races to Hawaii, the day on which a boat starts can have a huge effect on how a boat finishes. If one believes the short- and medium- range forecasts of Commander’s Weather, this could be a year where the earlier-starting boats are favored. Sunday starters, as we pointed out, got away from the coast without a problem. It seems that Monday starters will also have decent conditions to get away. But Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday starters will be facing an unusual band of light air before reaching the decent breezes off the coast. It currently appears that the Pacific Cup’s biggest speedsters, which start on Friday in the Latitude Big Boat Division, will be facing very light headwinds and calms when trying to get away from the shore. Weird.
Of course weather forecasts become exponentially less reliable more than a day out, and it’s a long race to the finish at Kaneohe Bay. With this expected to be a slow Pacific Cup year, anything can happen.
Who is going to win each division? For the answer to that question we called on Oahu-based Vietnamese psychic Lan Vo Kailua. Here’s what she ‘sees:"
Holo Holo Cruising Division: "Bernard Debbasch’s Newport Beach-based Beneteau 411 Med Viking is the best horse for the downwind course in this division, plus being the only boat in the race with a registered supercargo — Dianna Kennedy — can’t hurt." (Traditionally a supercargo is a representative of the ship’s owner aboard a merchant ship responsible for overseeing the cargo and its sale. We don’t know what it means on a Pacific Cup boat.)
Alaska Airlines Division A: "I see Rodney Pimentel’s Encinal-based Cal 40 Azure as the boat to beat. The Cal 40 fits races to Hawaii like no other design, they’ll be sailing with a light boat because of just four crew, and Rodney, a Pacific Cup vet, will be racing with son RJ."
‘Iwi Doublehanded Division: "There are so many good boats and sailors in this division I can’t see a winner clearly. Based on their Pacific Cup experience and the fact they are sailing a Cal 40, I have to like Jim Quanci, who does every Pacific Cup, and his wife Mary Lovely on Green Buffalo. The couple love the race, and love is a powerful force. But it would be crazy to bet against any of the four Santa Cruz 27s, and even crazier to bet against a Moore 24. I’m not entirely clear on this, but I see Karl Robruck and Gilles Combrisson on Karl’s Santa Cruz YC-based Moore 24 Snafu taking honors."
Weems & Plath PHRF Division B (Tuesday Start): "Psychic or not, I’m an island girl now, so I’ll not bet against Dean Treadway’s Pt. Richmond-based Farr 36 Sweet Okole. After all, she was built here in Hawaii in 1976, shortly after the white man came to the Sandwich Islands, and Dean has raced her to Hawaii before. Sweet Okole means ‘nice ass’ in Hawaiian, and got the name from her then-unusually wide transom. I’m told ‘sweet okole’ would be a sexist insult in San Francisco. Is that some kind of joke? Here in the islands it’s a compliment. I have a sweet okole, and I’m proud of it."
Matson, PHRF C (Tuesday start): "Hobie 33s are rockets off the wind, so the crystal ball shows Joe Well’s South Beach-based Aero and John Denny’s Sidney North Saanich YC-based Por Favor as big threats, but the name Gordon Nash keeps appearing in my ball. Since he’s the navigator on Wayne Koide’s Richmond YC-based Sydney 36 Encore, and navigating the ‘reverse S’ course to Hawaii is critical, I see the Encore crew splashing victoriously in the Kaneohe YC swimming pool when it’s all over."
Kolea Doublehanded Division (Tuesday start): "I initially saw Hill Blackett III’s Richmond YC-based California Condor, with designer Jim Antrim as crew, in the lead. But then the mists in my mind were overwhelmed by Bill and Melinda Erkelen’s Donovan 30 Wolfpack. The Erkelens love small boats and took overall honors in an earlier Pacific Cup with their Dogpatch 26 Moonshine. An excellent driver, Melinda loves running under a chute in a big breeze. If it’s windy, it’s going to be Wolfpack on the podium. But it doesn’t look as if it’s going to be windy, so who knows?"
Hokulea Multihull Division (Thursday start): "What’s with only two multihulls sailing to Polynesia, the home of multihulls? Insulting! Anyway, I see Rich Waltonsmith’s Saratoga-based trimaran Transit of Venus taking honors in this two-boat fleet, even though she’s going heavy with a crew of four.
Sonnen BMW Division D (ORR) (Thursday start): There are a lot of good boats in this group, but a few years back I saw that Thomas Garnier’s Los Angeles YC-based J/125 Reinrag2 was going to win overall honors in the TransPac. And so she did. Besides, with a boat like a blown-up Laser but with a spinnaker, how could they not win if it blows? But I’m troubled by the fact anyone would use their name spelled backwards as a boat name. That might be weird enough for Greg Slynstad’s Seattle-based J/125 Hamachi to win."
Latitude 38 Division E (ORR) (Friday start): "I see a duel between Frank Slootman’s R/P 63 Invisible Hand and Roy Disney’s Waikiki YC-based Andrews 68 Pyewacket. There are 13 great crew aboard Slootman’s boat, but all 10 on Pyewacket are all-world sailors who have sailed to Hawaii more times than I’ve been wrong about my predictions. And that’s a lot."
When we asked Ms. Kailua whom she saw as the overall winner, she said she wanted more money. A lot more money. So we’ll just have to see.