Mild Launch For Final Pac Cup Starters
Pulling the short straw, the Pacific Cup’s big-boat BMW of San Rafael E division is set to start today in the least favorable conditions of this week’s four starting days. If you’re the Moore 24 Foamy — the smallest boat in the fleet — we’re sure it feels a little better knowing that the 70-footers you assumed would be breathing down your neck will actually be parked in the Gulf of the Farallones on a day better suited for drop-line fishing than racing to Hawaii.
However, if you’re out front with Foamy, you have your own problems. Foamy, the Erkelens on Wolfpack and the can’t-bear-to-be separated, one-design fleet of Express 27s have all taken the southern route, which is currently the less windy part of the course. It’s the northerners that are enjoying actual breeze in the ‘Fun Race to Hawaii’, including Charles Devanneaux’s Beneteau Figaro 3 A Fond le Girafon who is about 50 miles closer to Hawaii than any other boat.
On the course, Pacific Cup media man Ronnie Simpson suggests, "The major north-south split that has taken shape in the first wave of starters will begin to play out very quickly, and while the southerly boats looked better off early on, the northerly boats are now beginning to show an advantage. Due to the patchy nature of the breeze and the fluky conditions, it’s quite difficult to predict which group will eventually come out ahead. We suspect that the northerly boats will look better in the immediate future, but that the southerly boats will poke their bows into the trade winds first and gain an advantage. Bottom line, it’s still anybody’s race and there is almost certain to be a lot of movement on the leaderboard."
The Wednesday/Thursday starts remain tightly packed on the rhumb line as they search for a way around the low-pressure, light-air system ahead. At some point, leaders will emerge and the evolving north/south split decisions will be become clearer. Right now, A Fond le Girafon is at about latitude 34:30 with 1289 miles to the finish, while Wolfpack is about 240 miles to the south at 30:40 with 1434 miles to the finish.
For the fleets following Monday’s starters, the fun in the race may come more from jokes on the rail than flat wakes astern. The long waterlines and big sail plans aboard Roy Disney’s Pyewacket, David Raney’s Rage and the rest of the big-boat fleet will only be helpful if they can find some wind to put in their sails. But the navigator’s wind challenges are all part of the game, and it’s part of the fun of racing to Hawaii. But the winds will change and hopefully the trades will blow and help everyone to the finish line before the ice melts in the Mai Tais.
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