July 22, 2016

Pac Cup Record Set as Storm Approaches

Doublehanders Melinda and Bill Erkelens blast toward Oahu aboard their MORC30 Wolfpack, securing first place in North Sails DH2.

© 2016 Leslie Richter

As the Pacific Cup’s early finishers celebrate their success and swap tales from this year’s abnormally fast passage from San Francisco to Oahu, a reenergized Tropical Storm Darby — now packing sustained winds of 60 mph — is undoubtedly making crews at the back of the pack a bit nervous. Currently less than 600 miles ESE of Oahu, Darby is moving toward the island chain at 12 knots. If it remains on its current arc toward the northwest, it could cross the tracks of some Pac Cup stragglers — the last of which is now 640 miles from the finish.

The Race Committee is consulting with at least two weather professional weather routers about Darby, and has announced that all boats may "consult with any professional weather routing service without penalty."

Threatening to spoil the party, Tropical Storm Darby is currently arcing toward the islands, and packing 60-mph winds. 

© 2016 NOAA Central Pacific Hurricane Center

Meanwhile, concern about the storm has not eclipsed the fact that Manouch Moshayedi and his crew aboard the super maxi Rio100 completed a blistering run to Kaneohe (5d, 2h, 41m, 13s) that shaved nearly three hours off the previous Fastest Passage record (elapsed time), set in 2004 by Robert Miller’s 139-ft Mari Cha IV (5d, 5h, 38m, 10s). 

Judging by the jibe angles of some fleet members, wind speeds and direction on the course seem to be much more varied than they were a day or two ago.

© YBT Tracking

Perhaps even more impressive, though, is Mark English and Ian Rogers’ amazing effort, doublehanding the Moore 24 ¡Mas! through the course’s strong winds and big seas to take first in their Kolea DH1 Division, first in PHRF and first in fleet — at least provisionally — on corrected time. 

Other provisional winners include: Melinda and Bill Erkelens aboard the MORC30 Wolfpack in North Sails DH2 Division; Walter Smith’s Cal 40 Redhead in Honu Division A; Shawn Ivie’s Express 37 Limitless in Alaska Airlines Division C; Wayne Zittel’s SC50 J World`s Hula Girl in Pasha Hawaii ORR Division D; and Rick Niello’s Jeanneau 57 Ticket II in the Latitude 38 Cruising Division.

Decked out in matching Aloha shirts, Rick Niello and the crew of the Jeanneau 57 Ticket II celebrate their first-place finish in the Latitude 38 Cruising Division.

© 2016 Leslie Richter

See the event’s official website for additional race updates, and to follow the real-time transponder tracks of fleet members as they converge on Kaneohe. And be sure to check out our Pac Cup feature in the August 1 issue of Latitude 38 magazine.

Record Falls in Vic-Maui

The TP52 Valkyrie finished the Vic-Maui Race in record time yesterday in the late afternoon.

© Vic-Maui Race

It wasn’t a record year for the Singlehanded TransPac, which started a week or more earlier than the Pac Cup and the Vic-Maui, but it sure was for the latter two Hawaii races. Keeping the pedal to the metal all the way to the finish, the TP52 Valkyrie, sailing for the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club and skippered by Jason Rhodes and Gavin Brackett, smashed the Vic-Maui record, which had stood for 16 years. They finished at 5:17 p.m. HST yesterday, July 21, for an unofficial new record of 8 days, 9 hours, 17 minutes and 56 seconds. The tired crew described the race as a "people smasher," but they proceeded to party until their nearest competitor arrived.

Fellow Royal Van member David Sutcliffe and crew aboard the other TP52, Kinetic, finished at 10:16 p.m. local time, also beating the old mark of 9 days and 2 hours set by James McDowell on the Waikiki YC-flagged Santa Cruz 70 Grand Illusion in 2000. Stuart Dahlgren’s SC70 Westerly out of Royal Victoria YC completed the trio of record-breakers, finishing in the middle of the night about five hours ahead of Grand Illusion’s time.

The SC70 Westerly at the start off Victoria Harbour on July 12.

© Vic-Maui Race

The Vic-Maui starts in Victoria, BC, in even years. The boats’ tracks this year show a wide swoop to the south around the Pacific High before turning west toward the rhumbline then jibing to dip south again. Check out the tracker here.

Not all of the 22 entries that started this 50th-anniversary edition will make it to Maui. The J/109 Mountain, racing doublehanded, retired and sailed into San Francisco Bay after problems with the rudder bearing. The R/P 55 Crossfire sailed to Seattle after two major gear failures.

The boats still on the course are keeping a watchful eye on Tropical Storm Darby, after Blas and Celia the third storm to impact racers to Hawaii this month. The leading boats appear to be pushing hard to get into Maui prior to the arrival of Darby sometime this weekend. A middle group have adjusted course to the south, working to pass behind Darby. The third group is holding course, counting on being far enough back for the storm to pass in front.

See www.vicmaui.org for much more.

Golden Globe Redux

Have you ever considered reliving the experiences of history’s most famous trailblazers? You know, crossing the plains in a covered wagon; maybe sluicing down the Colorado River on rickety boats à la John Wesley Powell; or climbing Everest alongside the ghost of George Mallory — using only the tools and skills those intrepid pioneers had available back then?

Neither have we.

But there is one such challenge that has piqued the interest of enough sailor-adventurers to fill 30 provisional entry slots: the 50th Anniversary Golden Globe Race 2018-2019, scheduled to depart Falmouth, UK, in June 2018.

If you’re old enough or interested enough, you may recall the first Golden Globe. Nine intrepid adventurers — one of whom had never sailed before — set out from Falmouth between June and October, 1968, in what was then the first-ever solo, nonstop, round-the-world sailboat ‘race’. Four entries retired while still on the outbound Atlantic leg. Nigel Tetley, an early leader, had his boat sink under him. Ex-British paratrooper Chay Blyth (the heretofore non-sailor) made it just past the Cape of Good Hope before dropping out.

Donald Crowhurst famously committed suicide from his trimaran. Bernard Moitessier, who had a shot at winning, decided not to finish. Apparently in protest of the commercialization of the event, he kept on going halfway around the world again to eventually stop in Tahiti.

There was only one finisher. Almost a year after he departed — 312 days to be exact — 30-year-old Robin Knox-Johnston sailed his 32-ft, double-ended wooden ketch Suhaili (an Atkins ‘Eric’ design) back into Falmouth Harbor. Not only did he win the Golden Globe trophy (and a cash prize that he donated to the Crowhurst family), he also became the first solo sailor to sail nonstop around the world.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s Suhaili, as seen in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race.

© 2016

Although the event eventually morphed into the BOC Round-The-World Race a few years later, there never was a second Golden Globe.

Until now.

Australian adventurer/sailor Donald McIntyre wants to do it again, just as they did it back then. Yachts are limited to 32-36 feet LOA, must have been designed before 1988, and must have full keels with attached rudders. The only electronics allowed on board are SSB/Ham and VHF radios — no electronic charts, GPS, weather routing, laptops, tablets, autopilots or any other newfangled folderol. Navigation will be by sextant. And how’s this for serious? CD players are not allowed, but you can take along a cassette player and cassette tapes (assuming you can find them anymore). Even digital cameras are banned. But film cameras are allowed.

(As part of a safety protocol, there will be a sealed compartment on each boat containing a satphone and GPS – the latter for tracking purposes. Breaking into it means disqualification. But at least you might live to tell about it.)

Of Knox-Johnston’s voyage, McIntyre writes: "He had only a wind-up chronometer and a barograph to face the world alone, and caught rainwater to survive, but was at one with the ocean, able to contemplate and absorb all that this epic voyage had to offer."

The race is by invitation only. So you apply and if the RC likes what they see, you are invited and given a provisional status until you complete the 2,000-mile solo qualifier and pony up the entry fees — a $2,200 (US) deposit, plus $8,200 to enter, plus another $8,200 if you have a sponsor. (The original 1968 race cost nothing to enter.) That’s on top of the price of the boat, refit and retro-gear. The low-end estimate for buying and refitting a suitable boat is about $100,000, and the sky’s the limit depending on how deep your pockets go. But it’s a lot cheaper than mounting a Vendée Globe or Velux 5 Oceans effort.

French adventurer and professional sailor Jean Luc Van Den Heede (aka VDH) is among the provisional entries, but is by no means typical of the fleet.

© 2016 Jean Luc Van Den Heede

The entries come from all walks of life; range in age from 26 to 71; and hail from 13 different countries. There is one woman so far, 26-year-old Brit, Susie Bundegaard Goodall. Perhaps the best-known name on the list is Jean Luc Van Den Heede, at 71 the ‘old man’ of the group. VDH, as he is known, is a veteran and podium finisher of four solo round-the-world races and currently holds the record for fastest solo ‘wrong way’ (westabout) circumnavigation. He will be sailing a Rustler 36.

A brochure shot of a Rustler 36. Rustler Yachts happens to be based in Falmouth, Cornwall.

© Rustler Yachts

For more on the GGR 2018-2019, check out www.mcintyreadventure.com/goldengloberace.

Woohoo! We’re havin’ some fun now. Charles Devanneaux of the Beneteau First 30 Sailing For ALS (currently second in DH2) somehow found the time to upload a few photos to give his followers a hint of the wild ride he’s having: barefoot and blasting downwind with a rooster tail behind.
Mike Jefferson sails the biggest boat in the fleet, the Garcia Passoa 47 Mouton Noir, into the Hanalei Bay anchorage after completing the Singlehanded TransPac race from San Francisco Bay.
If you’d love to use your boat for something more ambitious than a Central Bay daysail but aren’t ready to enter the cruising lifestyle full-time, we’ve got the perfect solution: Join us on the fourth annual SoCal Ta-Ta rally, a weeklong, one-directional cruising rally from Santa Barbara to Catalina Island.