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West Marine Pacific Cup Update

July 6 - San Francisco

Here are some shots of what the 140-ft schooner Mari-Cha IV looked like sailing out the Gate last Friday afternoon on the start of her 2,070-mile West Marine Pacific Cup race to Kaneohe Bay, Oahu. Spectacular, no? In the interim, she's sailed about 1,400 miles (!) leaving her with just over 600 miles to the finish. She's on a pace to break the elapsed-time record of six days, 14 hours held by Roy Disney's R/P 75 Pyewacket. Also on an average to break the record is Doug Baker's 80-ft Magnitude 80 from Long Beach. However, both boats face the prospect of lighter air in the remaining 38 to 48 hours.

Magnitude 80 is in the foreground of this shot, with the two-masted Mari-Cha near the bridge.
Photos Latitude/Richard, with thanks to driver Alan Weaver

So far both Mari-Cha and Magnitude have been sailing an unusually rhumbline-like course, and have enjoyed mostly pleasant sailing. Both surely would have liked more wind. Mari-Cha has sailed as many as 420 miles in 24 hours, although only 391 of them were toward the finish. This, however, is a boat that is easily capable of 500 miles per day, and, while setting the transatlantic record, hit 36 knots.

Between noon and 2 p.m. today, the Pac Cup will post the latest standings at www.pacificcup.org. We at Latitude 38 are all interested to see if our Racing Editor, Rob Moore, who is crewing on Jim Gregory's Schumacher 50 Morpheus, can help get the boat back into first in class and fleet. They've dropped to second in both categories, trailing Martin Brauns' SC 52 Winnetou from the San Francisco YC.

Flash: Mari-Cha IV is expected to finish tomorrow afternoon, around 4:30 Hawaii time.

Singlehanded TransPac Update

July 5 - Pacific Ocean

The first of the 21 boats in the Singlehanded TransPac passed the halfway point of their race from San Francisco to Hanalei Bay, Kauai, over the weekend. First to open his 'halfway present' was Chuck Beazell aboard the Hunter 54 Joe. No report on what was in the box, but Chuck has to be happy as he is presently leading the pack. So far, it seems the three-time participant turned the corner at the right time as the only boats south of him, Al Hughes' Dog Bark and Ryan Finn's Surfinn, are still sailing in sporadic breezes.

Dog Bark

Many boats have reported seeing junk in the water, some of it potentially hazardous. Dog Bark passed a 20-ft log a few days ago, and Jim Graul aboard the J/35 Koinonia popped his head out of the companionway just in time to see a massive wayward ship buoy go by. On a more positive note, one of the singlehanders had an encounter with a Vic-Maui racer in mid-ocean, though neither boat was identified in the report. You'd think there would be more of those, as it's a pretty crowded ocean out there right now. In addition to the the 21 solo racers who started on June 26, there are 19 boats in the Victoria to Maui Race that start on June 23, and 49 left in the Pacific Cup which had its first start on June 28.

All the fleet is now in the classic conditions for sailing to Hawaii in the summer, where the trades blow during the day and participants dodge - or seek out - squalls at night. The experience of the nine solo TransPac veterans in the fleet seems to have given them a slight edge over first-timers - at least in dealing with the squalls.

"With the spinnaker up, I run from squalls and try to avoid them," says Mark Deppe on the J/120 Alchera. "With the twin jibs up, I'll head right into a squall if I can and get the boat moving. I just wish I could switch between the twins and the spinnakers a little faster and with less work."

Either way, many boats are reporting that sleep is a rare commodity to come by now that they're in squall country, because they constantly have to deal with the boat direction and sail trim. "Fortunately, the last squall through dumped a load of water on Alchera," reports Mark Deppe, "so all those little salt crystals that were building up all over everything have been washed away for now. Every squall has a silver lining."

The Moore 24 Cookie Jar
Photos Latitude/JR

The first-timers seem to be having more breakdowns - although most are able to repair them and keep going full steam. Ryan Finn broke a masthead fitting that prevents him from flying his big kites, although he can still used his J/90's fractional chute; Al Hughes' boom-vang "puked its guts out all over the deck"; and George McKay on the Moore 24 Cookie Jar snapped a whisker pole in two. This is not to say that the vets don't have problems, too. Jim Tallet is on track to top his eight trips up the mast of Zapped to retrieve or fix various things in the 2002 race. He's made four or five trips to the top in this race already - including two in one day. But as fellow 2002 participant - and overall winner - Jim Kellam on Haulback observes, "Nobody bothers to keep count anymore. It's just what Jim does."

Quote of the Day: "I can sleep, no problem. It's just where to fit it in a busy day of racing, watch-standing, cooking, sail changing, roll calls and emails. When other racers say they got four hours of sleep last night, I just want to throttle them." Al Hughes, Dog Bark

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