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First Pacific Cup Starts Are Off

After much anticipation and preparation — by both organizers and competitors — the 20th Pacific Cup yacht race officially gets underway today, with the first four starts off the San Francisco Cityfront, including three racing divisions and one cruising. After a fun-filled weekend in Richmond that finally got the fleet together for the first time, roughly half the boats in Pacific Cup 20 will get underway today.

Greg Mullins’ Farr 52 Zamazaan, sailing out of St. Francis YC, will be racing in its first Pac Cup since 1986.

© 2018 Pacific Cup

As with any staggered-start race, there is always a weather lottery to be played. Early indicators show that the large batch of Monday starters will benefit from the best conditions, as they should encounter typical solid northwesterly pressure, generally forecast at 15-25 knots. Later in the week, however, the scenario looks much more complex as the trend shows a major soft spot in the breeze on the race course (please see the story following this one for the full picture). Motorcycle Irene co-skipper Will Paxton described the forthcoming navigational dilemma: “We’re going to hit a stop sign a few days in, and then have to decide whether to go right or left.”

Zachery Anderson’s Express 27 Motorcycle Irene out of Richmond Yacht Club does the standard iconic spinnaker pose in front of the Golden Gate.

© 2018 Pacific Cup

For today, however, it should be glamor sailing out under the Golden Gate Bridge and into the Pacific for the 31 boats spread across four divisions. The first fleet out the Gate will be the Kolea Cruising Division, which is by far the largest fleet in the entire race at 14 boats.

Not scored officially or racing for overall honors, the majority of the cruisers are taking a laid-back approach at racing to Hawaii, and revel in the camaraderie and support network of the Pacific Cup. In many ways, it’s like a semi-competitive bluewater Baja Ha-Ha complete with great stories of past and future cruises. Running deep throughout this fleet are sailors with longtime Hawaii dreams finally being fulfilled, as well as first-timers who are on the adventure of a lifetime — we look forward to profiling a few of these interesting sailors in upcoming articles.

Warren Holyoke (left) and Paul Sutchek (right) will be sailing the Morgan 382 Eliana. Warren sold his house, bought the boat, and is using the Pacific Cup as the start of some long-term Pacific cruising.

©2018 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

On the racing side, there are many highly-anticipated battles. An astounding seven Express 27s have come to participate in the race, with the highlight being a six-boat doublehanded division. While ratings vary slightly due to different rudders and modifications to some boats, the fleet is very close to a true one-design division. The other Express 27 is sailing three-up as part of a small handicap division that includes four diverse designs. The other doublehanded division, DH2, includes a number of ultralights and interesting designs including the much-anticipated debut of A Fond le Girafon, a new Beneteau Figaro 3 equipped with hydrofoils that will help it sail into the record books as the first boat equipped with lifting foils to participate in the Pacific Cup.

Nick Bannon shot this video on Poke and Destroy during a test sail on the Bay.

© 2018 Pacific Cup

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Birders might have what they call a ‘Big Year‘; the Singlehanded Sailing Society had a Big Day when seven boats out of a 16-boat fleet finished the Singlehanded TransPac yesterday, Sunday, July 8.