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July 15, 2016

Drag Race to the Solo TransPac Finish

The solo TransPac’s youngest skipper, 27-year-old Jirí Šenkyrík, is currently in a drag race to the finish aboard his vintage Olson 30 Kato.

© 2016

Excitement was building last night, as two finishers in the Singlehanded TransPac sailed within 100 miles of Hanalei Bay. In an actual and virtual drag race to the finish were the youngest skipper in the 23-boat fleet, Jirí Šenkyrík, age 27, sailing a vintage design, his 1981 Olson 30 Kato, vs. a new design, the 2015 J/88 Ventus, sailed by Chris Cartwright, who’s celebrating his 50 years on the planet by racing solo from San Francisco Bay to Kauai. Both boats are based in the Bay Area.

 At 8:30 p.m. local time, with Kato about 80 miles away and Ventus about 20 miles back, a carload of race committee volunteers drove up the cliff to Princeville, which overlooks the easternmost point of Hanalei Bay, to try to make contact via VHF and a Yagi antenna, but no dice.

Chris Cartwright heads west aboard the J/88 Ventus after the July 2 start at Tiburon. 

©2016Latitude 38 Media, LLC

As Hanalei’s feral roosters were crowing to greet the dawn this morning, Kato had 18 miles to go. Ventus was another 10 miles back. Also expected to finish today (possibly in early to mid-afternoon local time) is Robert Macdonald’s Olson 29 Nina. David Herrigel’s Wilderness 30 Domino, David Garman’s Santa Cruz 27 Giant Slayer and Vance Sprock’s Cal 40 Seazed Asset are all predicted to arrive on Saturday, roughly in that order — but the deck could certainly get shuffled a bit between now and then. Jibeset’s Ray Irvine has created an interesting spreadsheet of estimated finish times (note that times are in PDT, not HST) based on the tracker data. Check it out here. But keep in mind it’s just for fun — the leaderboard is an ephemeral thing, as each boat’s tracker updates at different times.

Pacific Cup Maxis Start Today

With today’s final starting sequence, the 2016 Pacific Cup shifts into high gear, as it features the fastest racing machines in the fleet: the maxis. Sponsored by BMW of San Rafael, the division includes Manouch Moshayedi’s 98-ft Super Maxi Rio100, which won Transpac’s Barn Door Trophy in 2015; Jens Kellinghusen’s custom Ker 56 Varuna VI from Germany; and three hot 70-ft sleds: Roy P. Disney’s Andrews 70 Pyewacket, Hector Velarde’s Andrews 70 Runaway and Edward Marez’ Santa Cruz 70 Buona Sera.

Yesterday’s starters, seen here, got off to a booming start. And the big boys head west today. 

© 2016 Leslie Richter

As seen in the video below, Thursday’s start of the Pasha Hawaii Division was fueled by ample winds in the high teens, adrenaline and plenty of competitive spirit. As noted by Pac Cup correspondent Elisa Williams, "The Club Swan 42, Elusive, barged the line, but was nudged outside the starboard mark by the Schumacher 46, Surprise, which crossed first, followed by the Santa Cruz 50s Chasch Mer and Oaxaca." This division features a resurgence of the SC 50s, as four of them are now chasing one another’s wakes to Kaneohe.

Thursday start video by John Navas

Check out all the news at the official website and you’ll see that even the so-called Cruising Division, sponsored appropriately by Latitude 38, is seeing hot competition and moments of glory. As noted in a press release yesterday, "On Day 4 of racing, the Pac Cup’s pack leader is the Jeanneau 57, Ticket II. Zipping along at speeds over 8 knots, and posting a 202-nm 24-hour run, skipper Rick Niello [on the Jeanneau 57 Ticket II] passed the lead Honu Division A boat, Cal 40 Redhead, by 4 p.m. on Monday and has stayed in front ever since… Next closest to the bar in Kaneohe on the afternoon of Day 3 was the Jeanneau 42, Aquavit, skippered by Michael Hutchinson. He’s done an extensive amount of offshore cruising for 20 years." They say racing is an ideal form of sharpening skills for cruising. Perhaps the opposite is true as well. 

Cruising Division? Don’t be fooled. Boats such as the Jeanneau 42 Aquavit are pushing as hard as competitors in the loftier divisions. 

© 2016 Leslie Richter

If you couldn’t join the fun in real time this year, you can take in blow-by-blow action (with time delay) via transponder technology. Look for more here next week. 

Meanwhile, the Vic-Maui fleet is converging on Lahaina, Maui. Check out the latest reports here.

Alameda Outboard Thefts Continue

How secure is your outboard? This one was snatched in broad daylight at the Alameda Marina. 

© Steve Waterloo

Periodic outboard thefts have been a serious problem in the Oakland-Alameda Estuary for years. And despite occasional busts by area law enforcement agencies, the problem continues, even — according to powerboat owner Steve Waterloo — in the supposedly gated and guarded dry storage facility of Alameda Marina.

As Waterloo explains, "After I got my trolling motor stolen from my fishing boat two years ago, I installed a motion-activated security camera on my radar arch. The majority of sailboats in the storage area have had an outboard stolen so they now take them home when the boat is not in use. This isn’t possible with a powerboat that has remote steering and throttle."

The video below was captured over a two-week period, showing thieves in both broad daylight and at night working to steal Waterloo’s 250hp Yamaha outboard and a 9.9 kicker motor. 

Waterloo’s video is jaw-dropping.

Waterloo and other theft victims have accused the marina’s operators, Bay West Group, of providing inadequate security: "It appears that their negligence in securing the property is intentional. The more trouble they can attract to the marina, the stronger their argument is for development. It seems that they are complicit in their non-action." As reported earlier, Bay West has hopes of getting the City of Alameda’s approval for a major redevelopment of the property, which would reduce boating infrastructure, while adding substantial residential components.

But Harbormaster Paul Houtz rebuts such allegations, pointing out that the property is gated and guarded, even overnight, with tenant-only card key access between 6 and 9 p.m., when only the main gate is unlocked. As Houtz points out, one security issue is that "the public shoreline goes through the property," adding, "I have been working directly with the chief of police to address theft issues."

Waterloo claims, "The damage done to my boat will cost over $41,000 to repair (insurance will cover $25K). A group of boat owner victims are working with an attorney to recover deductible amounts and possibly loss-of-use compensation from Alameda Marina." Interested parties may email here.

Thanks to Waterloo’s video, one suspect is in custody. If you have info on the thieves pictured, please contact Sgt. Klaus at the Alameda Police Dept (510) 337-8340. Whether in Alameda or elsewhere, being proactive, as Waterloo has been, may be the greatest deterrent to future thefts.

Buzz Blackett’s Antrim-designed Class 40 California Condor (foreground) is currently smoking toward the finish line at around 10 knots.
As you can see via the magic of transponder tracking, the solo TransPac fleet will be converging on Hanalei during the next few days.
Yesterday, the South Pacific cruising community was stunned to learn that one of its own, singlehander Louis Schooler, 64, had been found dead aboard the San Diego-based Hylas 42 Entertainer, which had grounded on Takapoto Atoll in French Polynesia’s Tuamotu archipelago.