Express 27 Fleet Races to Hawaii

The Express 27 class fields a healthy fleet for around-the-cans in-the-Bay racing. But a one-design division for a Hawaii race?

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Division starts for the 2018 Pacific Cup will commence on July 9 in front of the St. Francis Yacht Club. For the first time in the event’s 20-year running, there will be an Express 27 one-design class with eight entrants. Alternate Reality, Bombora, Fired Up!, Loose Cannon, Magic, Motorcycle Irene, The Pork Chop Express and Yeti will oppose one another for 2,070 miles.

Adam Mazurkiewicz’s Yeti, sailing doublehanded in a recent SSS Corinthian Race.

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Christopher Jordan and his wife Charlotte will pair up on The Pork Chop Express. Christopher has made several ocean crossings, plus competed in a Pac Cup on the Santa Cruz 50 Hula Girl, but this will be a first for Charlotte. “We’re racing as San Francisco E27 class race neophytes,” he says, noting they have had the boat for only one year. Christopher grew up on dinghies and keelboats, eventually spinning things into a vocation. Less of a hard core racer, “Charlotte takes a more relaxed approach to sailing, which usually makes it more fun.” As to the boat’s moniker, “There’s an opening scene in San Francisco’s Chinatown for Big Trouble in Little China where Kurt Russell is driving a big rig named the Port Chop Express. We discovered the name was initially used by commissioned WWII vessels that transported provisions and supplies to the South Pacific Theater; Pork Chop Express boats took a while to arrive but averaged 10 knots.” Christopher indicates that the film also has many usable quotes suitable for situations aboard a boat.

Rebecca Hinden’s Bombora competing in Island YC’s Jill & Jack + 1 in November.

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Rebecca Hinden of Bombora has staffed up with full crew. “I have chosen to go with three, which means a bit more weight, water and food.” A fourth-time racer across the Pacific, she’s undaunted by the scale of things, noting that the Express 27 is a great ride — upwind is easy, it planes well, it’s fun to drive, and loads on the lines are less. “It’s a little boat on a big ocean.” She and peers enthuse over the merits of one-design racing on a long ocean course, plus the fact that each crew will know its ranking as things unfold.

Will Paxton and Zach Anderson’s Motorcycle Irene, seen here in an Express 27 Nationals race.

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Over on Motorcycle Irene, Will Paxton will saddle up with Zachery Anderson. “Doublehanding is something I have not yet done and is a new challenge,” states Paxton, a veteran of seven Pac Cups, eight Transpacs and four Pacific Ocean deliveries. “You are basically singlehanding, but with rest stops.” He’s looking forward to seeing the ocean and surfing the waves, plus braving dark nights as lone man up top like never before. “Wind and weather could be anything, so I adopt a Zen attitude about seeing it through. All kinds of crazy things are out there — whales at the Farallones, huge floating objects, commercial and Naval traffic, whale sharks, shooting stars and incredible sunsets and night skies.”

Manning Alternate Reality will be Darrel Jensen, raised on racing in the San Francisco Bay Area. By age 15, he had participated in his first Pacific Cup aboard his father’s Cal 39. Jensen tackled the 1982 and 1986 events on a Farr 48, did the 1987 Transpac, then the 1996 Vic-Maui. In 2006 he purchased Alternate Reality; he and a brother sailed her in the 2008 and 2016 Pac Cups. “This year my son will accompany me on his first Pac Cup. Doublehanded on a small boat means life consists of sailing and sleeping. People have often asked if my brother and I were still on speaking terms when we got there. I laugh and say that other than a short strategy session in the morning and one in the evening, we hardly saw each other.” Conditions require racers to “Drive until you can’t remember how you got on the last wave — and just to the point where you’re about ready to drop off into sleep. Then you pound on the deck to wake the other guy.” Shifts on his boat will run three hours — or until the driver just can’t do it anymore.

Taking things in stride on Magic will be Mike Reed and Jeff Phillips. Reed has sailed this event three times on a crewed boat; 2018 will mark his second time doublehanded. “In 2012 we placed second in our division, so expectations are high.” A trauma flight nurse by profession, Reed has participated in numerous big events around the globe and writes about his adventures. Sailing since a young lad, Reed reckons he’s logged 25,000 racing miles. “We’re hoping for good wind in the 20- to 25-knot range and following seas.”

Andy Goodman’s Loose Cannon, seen here sailing on the San Joaquin River.

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To start, crews will see a challenging reach down the California coastline. Says Jensen, “The first couple of days are generally pretty breezy, followed by a few days of very pleasant sailing. The 2 a.m. squalls add excitement and adrenaline to the mix, but back in 2008 it took us until 2 a.m. to just pass the Farallones!” The finish is off the north coast of Oahu, near Kaneohe Bay. The Schumacher-designed Express 27s automatically qualify to be considered for the Carl Schumacher Trophy — first to finish on corrected time takes the prize.

1 Comment

  1. Avatar
    Timothy F Yeghian-Ahern 10 months ago

    Christopher Jordan and his wife Charlotte will pair up on ‘The Pork Chop Express’. Christopher has made several ocean crossings, plus competed in a Pac Cup on the Santa Cruz 50 ‘Hula Girl’, but this will be a first for Charlotte. “We’re racing as San Francisco E27 class race neophytes,” he says,’

    Neophytes?

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Reader Lee Panza snapped two amazing photos off Oyster Point on New Year’s Day. © 2018 Lee Panza "The first sunset of 2018," he wrote us.
When would you set sail for the South Pacific Islands? If you’re one of the more than 80 boats already signed up for the 2018 Pacific Puddle Jump the answer would be this January to April, meaning there’s a slim chance there will be any close maneuvering on the ‘starting line’ which stretches almost 4,000 miles from Southern California to Panama.
Back in the ’90s, I was working at the Navy Sailing Center in Point Loma on an especially windy weekend, keeping an eye on the renters (15 knots being a really big deal in San Diego).