First, an apology to readers who aren’t into racing. We realize that ‘Lectronic Latitude has been almost completely consumed by racing news recently. But with three major Hawaii races going on — all of which were somewhat affected by powerful tropical storms — the realm of offshore racing has demanded our full attention lately. By next week, though, we’ll be back to our regular mix of reporting on recreational sailing, cruising, racing and nautical curiosities.
Since our last Pacific Cup report on Friday, conditions throughout the weekend were raucous. Thankfully, Tropical Storm Darby veered to the west, passing behind the Hawaiian Island chain, rather than clobbering the fleet directly. But it caused plenty of havoc nonetheless. Although many boats hit record boat speeds in the intense conditions, frequent squalls and wildly confused seas made the final sprint to the finish line extremely challenging — especially for the smaller boats. Concern about the storm’s effect on racers spurred the Race Committee to share weather updates fleetwide from Rick Sheema (The Weather Guy) and Commanders Weather, and also allowed all boats to consult professional weather gurus directly for additional input.
"Driving through the morning squalls was amazing," reported crew member Michael Radziejowski of Dean Treadway’s Sweet Okole. "It felt like you were tumbling inside a washing machine." This was the 11th Pac Cup for the bright-finished Farr 36, one of 13 boats that finished Friday.
Reports indicate that many boats intentionally slowed down during the weekend in order to let the storm pass without incident. Now, in hindsight, we’ve heard that some crews realized they put the brakes on a bit too hard. All in all, though, Darby threw a wild card into the mix, affecting roughly two thirds of the fleet in one way or another.
Despite the punishing conditions, most boats report only minor gear breakage — in addition to many blown sails. The most costly loss we’ve heard of so far occurred aboard Ray Sanborn’s Hawaii-based J/109 RV Aloha, which was third place in the Weems and Plath Division B for much of the race. Roughly 150 miles from the finish, her mast snapped while flying a chute. Sanborn’s uninjured crew was forced to jettison the broken stick, but saved the new main and spinnaker.
Although most division winners have long been decided, all results are still provisional. You’ll find the leaderboard on the event’s official website, and be sure to check out the Pac Cup recap in the August issue of Latitude 38 magazine (out July 29).
The 20th edition of the Singlehanded TransPac came to a close Saturday night with awards at Nawiliwili Yacht Club on Kauai Island, Hawaii. The last boat to arrive, Lee Perry’s aptly named Westsail 32 Patience, came in Thursday morning, July 21, closing out the ‘one-design’ Kanaloa division. Perry, recipient of the Perseverance Trophy, had damaged his mainsail sailing through remnants of Hurricane Celia so he hanked a storm jib to his mast. John Woodworth, who finished Wednesday morning, July 20, on the Pacific Seacraft 37 Owl, spoke of sailing in the storm simply as “awesome!”
Veteran racers agree that this year they encountered the most difficult conditions of any race they had sailed. Vance Sprock, a first-timer, on the Cal 40 Seazed Asset, had contemplated requesting a refund of entry fees, stating the racing was “not what was in the brochure.” We’re sure he reconsidered upon winning First to Finish Displacement Monohull.
Racers this year endured very light winds in the Gulf of the Farallones, and once beyond saw little sun and little of the usual trades, whose east-to-west flow was disrupted by multiple tropical low-pressure systems. When the fleet did get wind, it was dead aft heading straight for Kauai, making helming challenging in sloppy seas. Despite difficult conditions, all sailors who started were able to finish.
Dave Herrigel on the Wilderness 30 Domino arrived in Hanalei fourth, but his corrected time earned him the coveted Hanalei Yacht Club Trophy for overall winner, as well as the Latitude 38/Nelson’s Trophy for First Monohull on Corrected Time from Northern California. Santa Cruz 27 Giant Slayer’s Dave Garman, from Renton, WA, who originally intended to doublehand the Pacific Cup but lost his crew very late and had to convince nearly everyone around him it was OK to go alone, takes home the Jim Tallet Memorial Trophy as the first on corrected time from outside Northern California. First-to-finish Jirí Šenkyrík from the Olson 30 Kato won the Jack London Trophy.
A youth group from the Kauai Sailing Association followed the race; each skipper was adopted by a child aged 7-16 to receive letters asking questions about the trip to Hanalei. See full results and much more in August’s issue of Latitude 38 coming out this Friday, July 29.
The sun may have set on the glorious heyday of the British Empire, but the Brits still rule their own waters. It really was Super Sunday for Sir Ben Ainslie and Land Rover BAR, whose results in Sunday’s three races gave them the overall regatta win at the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Portsmouth event this weekend.
On hot, sunny Saturday, in light, difficult breeze, Land Rover BAR recovered from a poor first race result to win the next two contests and complete the day at the top of the leaderboard.
The winds on Sunday presented the teams with perfect conditions for the AC45F cats to foil, thrilling the tens of thousands of fans who lined the Portsmouth shore. The British team used local knowledge and the cheers of the crowd to propel them to victory in race one. At the start of race two it was Oracle Team USA who seized the early advantage and increased their lead throughout the race. Although the Yanks also won the third and last race of the day, it was the Brits who edged ahead on points to win the regatta 82 to 81.
“It’s been a brilliant weekend,” said skipper Ainslie. “For us to race in Portsmouth, with the weather playing its part and two cracking days of racing, as a home team to win in front of our home crowd is the best thing we could do.” The British also won 2015’s ACWS event in Portsmouth.
The next stop on the tour is Toulon, France, on September 10-11. See www.americascup.com.