Vic-Maui: A Close on Eye on Storms

Published on July 13th, 2016

The 2308 nm Victoria to Maui International Yacht Race is hosted by the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club and the Lahaina Yacht Club. The fleet of 22 entrants had four staggered starts on July 9, 10, 11, and 12. Here is a report from the race office on July 13…

Hurricane Alley:
Race Committee has received a couple of questions regarding hurricanes in the Eastern Pacific and their potential impact on the Vic-Maui fleet. These are both important and interesting questions. Hurricane Blas has already formed and dissipated. And at Race HQ we pay attention to the National Hurricane Centre run by NOAA and it is tracking both Tropical Storm Cecilia and Tropical Storm Darby.

A series of low pressure zones coming out of Central America are a common phenomenon in summer months. Some form tropical storms or hurricanes. Most dissipate in open ocean south of Hawaii and only trouble mariners sailing between Mexico and the South Pacific. But occasionally these storms veer northwest and get to Hawaii.

It is unusual for 2 storms to get to Hawaii in succession as Cecilia and Darby are currently forecast. But several boats in this year’s Vic-Maui fleet remember the challenge when the remnants of Tropical Storm Wali hit part of the fleet in Vic-Maui 2014.

All boats are aware of the potential for tropical storms and have sophisticated weather tracking information and are aware of trends of wind throughout the race course as they plan their best track to Hawaii. And each boat’s preparations include having the training and tools to withstand very severe weather. Certainly the five boats that encountered Wali in 2014 all weathered (pun intended) the impact reasonably well with only tattered sails and stories.

Some boats consider the worst problem with tropical storms is not their wind wallop, but their impact on shutting down the steady trade winds. The National Hurricane Centre forecasts Cecilia gets past Hawaii in the next few days – well ahead of the fleet. And we hope that Darby and any others stay well to the south of the racers.

We will be keeping a close eye.

In The Morning:
As the arm-chair sailors wake up on Wednesday morning, it has been an interesting night for the Vic-Maui fleet. As forecast, the Pacific High is re-establishing itself and moving eastward toward the Oregon Coast. Its impact on the fleet depends on where boats positioned themselves. But it is starting to look like a traditional Vic-Maui, but more interesting things are still to come.

The boats closer to land have been doing well, blast reaching in good wind with good boat speed. Expresso has used the left side leverage to good advantage and is now past the California border in rough company with Mountain (I know her tracker is not working again), Canard, Rain Drop and Ion.

The Beneteaus who earlier stayed on the Rhumb line to shorten the distance are suffering a bit trying to work back toward the coast and join in the better winds enjoyed by the smaller boats. The high-performance ‘hounds’ who started yesterday are trapped on the top of the high in light winds. They are just 30 miles south of Cape Flattery which they rounded before dark last night – it is not quite the pursuit they were planning.

There is better wind ahead, but on only certain path lines – we will see who can take the best advantage.

And what impact will the tropical storms have on the northeast trades that blow further south and provide the steady spinnaker run across to Hawaii that the race is famous for.

Excerpt from the the Log of the Kraken (by Mark Malacek):

We are reporting from 42.5 N and 130 W. We have now traveled over 400 nautical miles and have a mere 1920 or so to go. The sky is thinly overcast but bright; sunny clouds. Our solar panels are kicking out 4 amps regardless.

We have continued to make good progress, albeit a little slower than the previous days. We are making our way across the high and will be doing so for the next 24 hrs or so – we think. The winds here are light but we are moving along 5 kts or so with occasional burst of acceleration, under thundery looking cloud formations. The good news is we are finally going down-hill (that`s down wind for you land-lubbers) and have a spinnaker up (that’s the big puffy colourful sail).

Our communications systems are working well, especially the Iridium Go; we have had no issues whatsoever downloading weather data and receiving e-mails. The trick is to keep the file sizes down below 50kb or so and nothing hangs up. Our weather models are telling us that by Thursday we will be in some good pressure and the drag race will be on.

The Kraken Krew remain in good spirits and are starting to get their sea-legs. No more queasiness and the motion of the boat is becoming familiar.

Rations are growing thin though and the crew is down to salt pork and pickled potato skins to fight off the scurvy … WAA??.. Not!! – try wild Pacific sesame crusted seared albacore with organic soy sauce! We call our Oceanside restaurant the Taste of the Kraken and have brought in our new Ocean-wise (fresh) menu. Yesterday Annette and Alex decided to try out the fishing line and 3 minutes later (I swear) BAM – tuna on! The fight was short and death to fishy was swift. We do, however, have to figure out how to dispatch these things over the side or off the back of the boat. Our cockpit, and ALEX, looked like some sort of Silence of the Lamb meets the Godfather massacre once it was all over!

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Source: Vic Maui Race

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