Pacific Cup: This doesn’t suck

Published on July 18th, 2014

The 2070-mile Pacific Cup had staggered starts on July 6 through July 11 for the nine divisions. Since 1980, the race has been sailed from San Francisco Bay to Hawaii every other year, and since 1988 the finish has been at Kaneohe Yacht Club on Oahu. Here’s an update from Wayne Zittel onboard the Santa Cruz 50 Hula Girl…

Well the past couple days have been perfect ‘chamber of commerce’ sailing conditions out here. But, of course, the deep Pacific lacks any semblance of a marketing department (and the hotels are few and far between). So here we are, just over a week into the 2014 Pacific Cup and we are ripping along, on port gybe finally, heading, more or less, straight for Oahu.

The last couple nights have been, shall we say, ‘sporty.’ There is a big ol’ moon out here, but it gets eclipsed by cloud cover and squalls pretty regularly so it gets dark dark, with the brightest things around being the fiery phosphorescence in the water. Then the moon will punch thru, reflecting on the water like a silvery shimmering blanket. After sunset, the breeze kicks up a couple clicks from the normal 18-20 knots…. until a squall comes thru, then all bets are off. Top breeze we saw last night was a short spike to 34. And Hula Girl has been just lighting it up.

The B&G instruments have been a bit ‘wonky’ so we have taken to tracking top speeds on GPS which doesn’t show the quick spikes but gives a good and accurate representation of steady speeds. Until ‘Mr. Geoff’s Wild Ride’ in the aforementioned puff, Alix held the speed record of 17.7. But with the extra horsepower, coach Geoff showed us how it’s done and raised the bar to 18.8. So Alix still leads the Amateur division, and Geoff is holding onto the newly formed Pro division. I’m sure our momentary speeds were well above those numbers and into the 20s, but regardless, Hula Girl (and everyone on board) is having a hoot.

We were sorry to hear at roll call this morning that Tiburon, the SC37, had lost their rudder sometime yesterday. Apparently the Passport 40 Cayenne was on scene with them and passing them extra water and supplies for what will become much longer trip to the Islands. I’m sure they were tearing it up in the breeze, and we are sorry to hear of the problem but glad everyone aboard is safe.

We had a brief moment of excitement earlier today when the steering wheel almost came off. It must have loosened up over the past 1500 miles and slipped just enough to let the key slide in the hub, so turning the wheel did not really turn the boat. Uh oh. Hula Girl rounded up in a civilized fashion and I, having identified the problem right away, ran below to grab the socket set. I have to say that when I got on deck, pulled the wheel off and handed it to Jimmy saying “Here! Hold this. And don’t drop it!” his look was priceless. Wheel was re tightened momentarily, and we were on our way again shortly. The socket is now living in the sheetbag near the wheel until we can get some loctite on that nut (the wheel, not Jimmy).

* The staff of J World and crew of Hula Girl would like to apologize for the immediately preceding pun. It was obvious and gratuitous, and we are sorry to everyone…. except instructor Andrew in San Diego. This is what you get.

Jimmy started trouble in the cockpit, again. You think I’d be used to it by now. Yesterday it was “Let’s do the Tahiti Race on Hula Girl!” then today it was “So what food do you miss the most?” There ensued a discussion as to all the fine things we are looking forward to in Hawaii. Then a truly inspired lunch. Alas, no ice cream! Geoff is on watch with Marko driving at the moment. Mike trimming, Alix grinding. Dale is off watch but still out in the cockpit chatting. Haven’t seen Jasper in a while. I assume he’s sleeping, again. He stayed up nearly all night last night, carrying on and partying away, then thinks he can just lie around snoozing all day. Some people!

We passed close by a glass fishing ball yesterday. Alas, in race mode there was nothing we could do except scoot by, leaving it to continue it’s lonely and long voyage….

That’s what I got for now. 561 miles to go. Averaging about 11.5 knots. With a bit of luck, we’ll be in Saturday night. Supposed to get a bit lighter for a stretch the next couple days, but our breeze has been higher than forecast recently, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

Anyway, more soon…

Distributed on July 17, 2014

Event website:
Starting times for all divisions:

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