Pacific Cup: Keeping Wheels on the Wagon

Published on July 16th, 2016

The biennial Pacific Cup attracted 64 entrants for the 2070 nm course from San Francisco to Hawaii, with the fleet divided among four staggered starts on July 11, 12, 14, and 15. Here’s a report from the race office on July 16.


Nicole’s tracker has run out of battery power and will be reporting her position to the communication’s boat, Rapture. We’ve now heard from Cetacea, reporting that everyone is well but they suffered a ruddder/steering problem which has now been fixed, but with damage to their emergency rudder they are returning to California.

Yesterday’s starters blasted out the Gate, but quickly encountered a hole at the Farallones — but they’re now bombing along and heading into strengthening wind that could still carry them to Hawaii in record time. YB Tracker data is showing 19+ kts of boat speed for Rio 100 and 17+ kts for Varuna VI. From the third group of starters, Adrenalin reports beam reaching at 14-17 kts with an occasional 20, under white sails.

This report comes from the Santa Cruz 50 Hula Girl:
We just started day three of our 2016 Pacific Cup, and things are starting to settle in. The world is leveling off, and (dare we even think it?) drying off.

We started in the typical freshening SF breeze last Thursday. With a #4 jib and a reefed main, we had a nice start and were in top pack as we sailed out under the Golden Gate. Once clear of the ‘wind machine’ funnel which is the mouth of SF Bay, the breeze started to lighten and we shook our reef and eventually changed to our #3 jib. Then land faded into overcast distance and our small sleet of racers were all there was. We watched the outlines of our competitors into the early evening, then lost them too and we were alone.

The breeze and waves were, however, our constant companions. I’m not sure it has dipped under 20 knots yet this race. So for the first 36 hours, it was hard on tight reaching. That means a loud boat as she launches off waves. That means a wet boat, as she lands back in the sea hurling wall of water in the wind, which in turn hurls it at the crew.

On day two we reefed the main again, and went up with the blast reacher. Perfect combo, and proved to be fast and controllable. And while the entire crew was wet, and cold, and uncomfortable, our soggy spirits were lifted to see that we were in second place! So suddenly it is all worth it… and the good stuff should be coming any time now…

The good stuff happens when you cross ridge and into the SE corner of the semi-permanent Pacific High pressure system which lives in the northern Pacific. This shift the breeze (and the swells) around behind the boat, and, well, away we go. It’s what makes this race so famous and popular. Well, I’m happy to say that this morning, just after roll call, we shook the reef and set our 4A spinnaker (heavy runner) in some 26 knots of breeze. We are instantly surfing in the 15 knot range and it is trial by fire for the fresh crew aboard Hula Girl!

So more positive news: after the kite went up we got the morning position reports and were gratified to learn that we had taken over first place! It’s really early in a very, very long race, but feels good to be in the hunt. The breeze is still blowing strong, and it is forecast to be a windy trip over. It’s already been a fast one… we covered 500 miles in the first 48 hours. So now to just keep the wheels on the wagon, so to speak!

Life onboard is good… crew is happy that the slamming of the upwind leg is gone. The boat is level, and much more comfortable. It’s still cloudy, but we hope to punch out into some sweet Pacific sunshine before too long.

Ok, that’s it for now… more soon…

Event detailsTrackerDivision splitsFacebook

Background: The Pacific Cup Yacht Club is responsible for organizing the biennial Pacific Cup, dubbed the “FUN race to Hawaii.” Since 1980, the Pacific Cup has been sailed from San Francisco Bay to Hawaii every other year, and since 1988 the finish has been at the warm and welcoming Kaneohe Yacht Club on the island of Oahu. With an emphasis on pre-race preparation for the 2070 nm race, PCYC’s volunteer membership has helped to ensure that thousands of racers have been delighted with their Pacific Cup experience.

Source: Pacific Cup Yacht Club

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