“Made ya jump!” That might be the gleeful cry uttered by several of the racers in the Singlehanded Transpacific Yacht Race once they learn that they are making tracks to Hawaii so fast that the race committee has had to change their travel plans. The volunteer welcoming committee’s original arrival date on Kauai was to be this Friday. That’s been moved up, as all of the racers have less than 1,000 miles to go, and some have passed the 500-mile mark.
The lead has changed several times since the start on June 25 in front of Golden Gate Yacht Club in San Francisco. Currently leading the varied pack of 16 sailboats is a match race between two Cal 40s, with Green Buffalo (with less than 450 miles to go) leading Solstice by about 30 miles. The 1D35 Such Fast, Express 37 Perplexity and J/120 Jamani are nipping at their transoms. Still far outsailing her rating of 219 (the slowest PHRF in the fleet) is the Westsail 32 Hula. Bringing up the rear are Horizon and Eos. The fleet’s pings are not entirely in sync, but you can view the tracker at www.jibeset.net/gpswatch.php?FA=JACKY_T004055182_1_1681513023. Also see the event’s registration page at www.jibeset.net/JACKY000.php?RG=T004055182.
Messages from the Singlehanded Fleet
Fleet members have been emailing updates to the organizers at the Singlehanded Sailing Society, which has been posting them on the SSS forum. Check them out at www.sfbaysss.org/forum/showthread.php?2915-Emails-from-the-fleet. Here’s a sample from some of the skippers:
Randy Leasure, Tortuga, Westsail 32, June 25 (Day 1): “I had a terrible start and got caught in the counter/flood current that had started to flow. I was trying to start with just the staysail to make it easy to tack back and forth as needed, but then I realized I had to get the jib up to get enough speed to make it across. The other two Westsails pulled away from me and made it under the bridge before me.
“It was a washing machine ride out with the last of the ebb pushing us out under the bridge and past Point Bonita doing almost 9 knots. … The breeze did fill in, so we were bounding along at 6.5 knots later in the afternoon. It was a bouncy night with lots of shipping traffic, so I was eventually down to a double-reefed main with the working jib and staysail.”
Jim Quanci, Green Buffalo, Cal 40, June 26: “Beam reaching in 20-25 knots of wind and moderate seas. AWA 76-100 degrees, almost spinnaker time but too bumpy and too windy for this tight a reach when alone. Crossing the North Asia to Panama Canal shipping route; saw three ships today and one quite close (consider a half mile is 3 boat lengths for a large ship). John on Perplexity is right behind me maybe a mile back, as he has been since the start, which makes using the AIS alarm tricky as it keeps going off because John is so close. Started eating a wee bit: sardine sandwich, Swiss cheese on crackers, trail mix. This is early for me as usually I need to avoid food for 2-3 days to avoid mal de mer. The meclizine I started taking the day before the race must be working.”
Alex Benderskii, Reverie, Tartan 41, June 27: “Winds steady all day in 12- to 18-knot range, backing from NNW in the morning to N in the evening. Seas calmer, much more comfortable ride, still pretty fast, averaging 7-7.5 knots. Have been following Solstice, who is about 10 nm ahead, in VHF contact. His AIS receiver is not working, while I have non-functioning AIS transponder. So between the two of us we have a fully functional AIS system. This was useful as there were a couple of close crossings (within a few nm) with tankers going SE towards the Panama Canal.”
July 4: “Reverie is reporting loss of tiller for aux rudder, meaning can’t use Pelagic to steer as intended. Trying out different ways to steer.” Later: “Pelagic itself is OK and primary wheel steering is OK. Trying to drive the wheel with Pelagic, but it’s slow (3rd reef in main). I guess I’ll do some fishing.”
Christophe Dessage, Elmach, XC-42, June 28: “14C in the cabin, tuque on, that old sleeping bag shows up unexpected, from Tibet to the Pacific Ocean, who would have guessed?” (Christophe is Canadian; for us Yanks, 14ºC = 57ºF.) July 1: “Canada Day report — sailing with a flag. A bit of gennaker but then above 18 knots it feels like dancing with a partner who can hurt you.”
Piyush Arora, Horizon, Beneteau First 305, June 29: “Spinnaker set, deep downwind. I’m trying to get out of low wind as quickly as possible. Working a lot harder today than any other day trying to get the boat to move. Finally moving at 6, with 8 on my back. Not in the direction that I want to go, but I’ll take it.”
Mike Smith, Eos, Cal 2-34, June 30: “There are some storms coming down the West Coast that I think will push into the reforming North Pacific High and strengthen the winds where I am. That was the idea of going north anyway. Well north of everyone else, as I’m pretty much on the shortest distance line, or rhumb line, close to the Great Circle line. But I think I messed up by going too far north early on. Learned a lot though! Anyway what I have to [do] now is point at Hawaii. I should be able to manage that.” The Englishman commented yesterday: “Happy July 4. I was going to hoist the Union Jack but nobody here to see it.”
Sean Mulvihill, Jamani, J/120, July 1: “After 5 days of sailing and over 850 nm from the GGB, things are settling into a routine. We survived the (very) windy reach with minimal carnage, then Jamani fought through the transition zone desperate to get south. What a weird Pacific High this year! Even at latitude 30N (ie Mexico) we still suffered high pressure and low wind speed. Yesterday, at latitude 30N I crossed Maersk Tender around 1600 hrs. It looked strange, two large commercial vessels very close together. They politely informed me that they indeed were tethered together — with a net(!) — sweeping plastic out of the High. They asked me to get out of their way as they had ‘limited maneuverability.’ As did Jamani, with 3 knots boat speed in 5 knots of wind. But we avoided them and wish them well on an amazing mission.”
Michael Polkabla, Solstice, Cal 40, July 3: “Solstice POL [Proof of Life] check-in for 7-3-23. Less than 800 to go now! OMG, that’s like sailing from S.F. to Cabo.”
Bill Stange, Hula, Westsail 32, July 3: “I brought way too much food. Could you make it two laps?”
Max Crittenden, Iniscaw, Martin 32, July 3: “Broke whisker pole. Annoyed but alive.”
A 17th starter, Tony Bourque on the Freedom 40/40 Circe, turned around west of the Farallon Islands. “He is OK, if a little bruised, and disappointed of course, but he feels solid about the decision,” commented race chair David Herrigel. “What happened was a crash jibe; sounds like the boat went up on a wave and effectively rounded down — either poor reaction on the autopilot, or the rudder came out on the crest. End result was two broken APs, which he wasn’t sure he could resurrect, and he didn’t want to continue past the point when he could hand-steer home.”
Our own media mini-team will arrive on Kauai as previously scheduled, on Friday. As we write this, we’re guesstimating that five boats will beat us to Hanalei. We’ll file an update here on ‘Lectronic Latitude next week. Then, look for our feature story in the August issue of Latitude 38.