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Entering the Pacific Cup Race: Fort Worth, Texas, to Hawaii With a J/105

We’ve been reaching out to sailors signed up for this year’s Pacific Cup to learn a little more about who they are, and why they signed up for the race. Matt Arno from Fort Worth, Texas, shared a little about his sailing life and his plan for his first Pac Cup race.

Matt has owned the J/105 Blue Flash for 15 years, mostly focused on one-design racing. Before that he crewed on a variety of smaller J/boats, and has been adding offshore racing to the schedule, one step at a time.

“We started out doing the Harvest Moon Regatta (150 miles Galveston to Port Aransas), which we’ve done several times,” Matt told us, “then did the Chicago-Mackinac race (330 miles) twice, then two years ago the Newport Bermuda (600 miles there and then 600 back).

“The next step is Pac Cup. It’s been on my bucket list for quite some time and represents the biggest race I’ll be able to do on my own boat. Going to do Sydney Hobart or Fastnet will have to be as crew for someone else.”

J/105 sailboat with crew
There’ll be fewer bodies aboard when Blue Flash crosses the Pacific in July.
© 2024 Matt Arno

The Newport Bermuda was good practice for the Pac Cup, as the preparation and safety requirements were almost identical and the amount of supplies needed was very similar, as the crew was doing a round trip. The Pac Cup, however, will be one way and returning on a trailer.

“The Pac Cup was a natural next step. We’re too small to compete in the Transpac,” Matt says, “but fit right in with the fleet for Pac Cup. Plus we’d rather be in a ‘FUN Race’ anyway. We might be the largest boat making the trip back home on a trailer after the race.”

One difficulty he has encountered is finding crew. It’s been harder than he expected and is still a work in progress.

“With only four crew on board, everyone has to be able to do everything; no room for specialists. Lots of people can’t take the time off work. And some people say, ‘On a J/105?? Are you crazy?? How long will that take?’”

Among the crew will be a “techie” who will be filming the action on board, and drone footage from above. Though with a lack of high-speed internet, viewers will have to wait until the crew reach shore.

When we asked which of the four will do the cooking, Matt said the boat’s cooking is limited to a single-burner camp stove mounted on a custom gimbal, limiting their culinary activities to boiling water.

Although, “We discovered the Mountain House freeze-dried food is quite good these days, including the hot breakfasts they make,” he adds.

Since he still does one-design racing, Matt has focused his boat modifications on things that are easily reversible, to return the boat to one-design configuration.

He explains, “The electronics suite was where a lot of attention was needed. Chartplotters at the helm and nav station aren’t normally seen on purely one-design racers, nor is AIS, much less satellite communications. I’ve tripled the battery-bank size and added solar panels off the stern and on the dodger. We should be able to go several days at a time without needing to run the engine to charge the batteries. We went almost four days without running the engine for Newport Bermuda and we’ve doubled our solar charging capability since then.”

We wish Matt and his crew lots of luck, and fun, during and in preparing for their race from San Francisco to Hawaii, starting on July 15.

NEED CREW?  Check out our Crew List here.

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