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July 11, 2014

Getting Nowhere Fast, And About to Slow

The forecast for the Pacific Cup looks light. Very light.


Unfavorable weather conditions are severely plaguing the 56-boat Pacific Cup fleet, as is obvious from the accompanying Passage Weather forecast.

The Sunday and Monday starters that got away so quickly are now facing a huge barrier of light wind. Michael Chobotov’s Jeanneau 49 Venture continues to comfortably lead the Sunday-starting Holo Holo Cruising Division. She’s sailing at nearly twice of the speed of the trailing two boats in the division, which have apparently run out of wind. But the heavy Jeanneau is about to face a similar fate.

The Monday starters in the Alaska Airlines PHRF Division were able to cover a lot of miles in the first two days, but they’ve also hit a wall. Nothing illustrates this better than Rodney Pimentel’s Cal 40 Azure, recently the Pac Cup overall leader, and still in second place. She’s doing just 1.8 knots.

If you think that’s bad, and it’s horrible, it’s nonetheless 33% faster than the 1.2 knot speed reported by former overall and Iwi Doublehander leaders Jim Quanci and Mary Lovely on the Cal 40 Green Buffalo. They have tumbled to second in the Iwi and third overall. The Iwi Division and overall Pacific Cup lead has now been taken by Karl Robuck’s Moore 24 Snafu (based on her handicap correction), which weighs about as much as Green Buffalo‘s winches and is thus faster in zephyrs.

It was the Tuesday starters that faced the worst getaway conditions. They had precious little wind at the start, got a bit, and are about to lose most of it. PHRF Division B is currently lead by John Denny’s Hobie 33 Por Favor, which, unlike everyone else, is sailing a nearly rhumbline course. Maybe he’s seeing wind ahead that nobody else does, but to us it looks as though she’s headed to oblivion.

Dean Treadway’s Farr 36 Sweet Okole continues to lead the Weems & Plath PHRF B. She’s making 5 knots, which isn’t bad, but there isn’t much wind ahead.

California Condor is moving the fastest at 7.8 knots in the Kolea Doublehanded Division, but they are nowhere near sailing straight toward Hawaii. As a result, former Pacific Cup champs Bill and Melinda Erkelens have taken the division lead by sailing a slower but more direct path toward the finish. Well, sort of a direct path, as they started the race by sailing north of Drake’s Bay.

J World’s Santa Cruz 50 Hula Girl flashes her bottom during Thursday’s windy starts. But despite blustery conditions on the Bay, painfully light breezes await offshore.

© 2014 Erik Simonson

Thursday was not a good day to start either. Mark Dowdy’s Santa Cruz 50 Hana Ho leads the Sonnen BMW Division, but was moving at a pedestrian 5.0 knots. And without a lot of wind in their future.

The two-boat multihull fleet was hurting even more. The Division-leading Farrier 36 tri Transit of Venus was moving at 3 knots. At this rate she’ll make Hawaii by mid-August.

As for the early fortune of the Latitude 38 Big Boat Division, the weather forecast tells the gloomy story. Little if any wind until midnight on Saturday, at which time there will be a better breeze for racing to Cabo than Hawaii.

Persevere, everyone! This year’s Pacific Cup is going to be a chess match, not a drag race.

As you can see by this Yellowbrick track image, This year’s Pac Cup is anything but ‘follow the leader’. Many boats are now diving south in search of stronger breeze.

© Yellowbrick

For the latest on the Pacific Cup, visit the Pac Cup website. Pay particular attention to the Yellowbrick tracker to see the weird routes boats are having to take. Be patient, as it sometimes takes forever to load.

Mid-Pacific Rendezvous

Saturday morning, while more than a hundred paddlers raced inside the Tahiti lagoon, Puddle Jumpers rally/raced to Moorea in perfect conditions. Pictured here are the Montana-based Waterline 46 Grasshopper and the Sweden-based Amel 54 Amelit.

©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Every year about this time Moorea’s Cook’s Bay anchorage fills up with cruising boats from many nations. They converge here beneath towering volcanic peaks to participate in the Tahiti-Moorea Sailing Rendezvous (July 4-6), a fun-filled three-day event that celebrates the cruising fleet’s successful crossing to French Polynesia from the West Coast of the Americas — the Pacific Puddle Jump — and introduces crews to a colorful variety of long-revered Polynesian cultural traditions. 

A memorable stop on her way around the world, the Hong Kong-based Hunter 450 Beluga Free enters majestic Cook’s Bay, Moorea.

©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Considered by many visiting sailors to be a highlight of their South Pacific travels, the Rendezvous is organized by Latitude 38‘s longtime Tahitian partner Archipelagos, with support from us, Tahiti Tourisme, and other local organizations, in addition to regional partners from New Zealand and Fiji.

After an initial meet-up on the Papeete wharf last Friday for a cocktail party, dance show and traditional Polynesian blessing of the skippers, the fleet sailed Saturday to Moorea (15 miles) on a splendid beam reach with 15 to 18 knots of breeze. Ashore that evening at the Club Bali Hai hotel, cruisers were greeted by the lovely Miss Moorea, who gave each of them a fragrant tiare flower to wear behind his or her ear — an age-old Tahitian tradition. A cocktail party followed, with live music from a Tahitian band and an elaborate dance show.

Miss Moorea (in red) huffs and puffs as her team approaches the finish of the final heat. Not only is she a natural beauty, but she’s an expert paddler. Behind is the mostly-kids team from the Channel Islands-based Kurt Hughes 58 cat Li’l Explorers.

©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Sunday was dedicated to a variety of traditional Polynesian sports, the highlight of which was a series of six-person outrigger canoe races where cruisers teamed up with local paddlers. Staged in the anchorage directly in front of the Bali Hai, the races and the rest of the day’s events undoubtedly gave participants magical memories. Look for our complete report on the Rendezvous in the August edition of Latitude 38 magazine. 

It’s always a hoot when cruisers participate in the ancient fruit-carrier’s race – a relay race where runners must carry a pole weighted at each end with coconuts or stalks of bananas.

©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The fleet enjoyed several eye-popping dance shows where both the girls and guys performed moves that the visiting sailors found impossible to imitate. Latitude / Andy

The Singlehanded TransPac is again moving into high(er) gear, as much-welcomed wind pressure has developed, giving the 14 skippers an emotional boost.
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