Vic-Maui: Half Way Home

Published on July 16th, 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 16…

Half Way
Casting away false wind idols. Or welcoming aboard Badger Bob and King Neptune. These are traditions from old time sailors that recognized the accomplishment of crossing the Equator. Vic-Maui’s version is the Half-way party. A number of boats including Longboard, Kinetic, Valkyrie, Westerly, Equus and Atalanta will likely reach Half-Way overnight. The celebrations may be mute while the crew thinks about how to shave distance off the competition, or a celebration over what has been accomplished so far.

The boats are all pushing hard in conditions perfect for a fast passage. But the pushing has taken its toll. While RC does not know the bill, we suspect there have been multiple failures of spinnakers, sheets, blocks and stuff across the fleet. A week’s sailing to Maui is like 10 years of racing around the bay. So much has been done, but there is a much again left to do. So we suspect the Half-Way celebration is about the accomplishments so far, and a renewed focus on completing the rest of the trip safely and fast. I suspect some of Mt. Gay’s finest might be sacrificed as a toast to Badger Bob and Neptune tonight.

The Heat is On

Every boat was roaring along their own slot on the line to Maui. But the stronger winds have now veered to the west forcing boats into decision time on the fastest approach. Do you gybe early and take a southerly approach? Or do you ride out the changing wind direction and gybe late and approach from the north? Or do you stay in the middle and get lots of practice at doing multiple gybes throughout the night?

Clearly the fleet has thinks that the port gybe is the right one for now and most boats have flipped, but we will see. At the recent update, Longboard is flying and is now in the lead of Div 1. But Kinetic and Valkyrie are very close.

String Theory holds the lead in Div. 2 – John Mortimer was the Div. 2 winner in 2014. He is just ahead of Equus with Turnagain and Salient not too far behind – Remember, these finish predictions are very volatile. Rain Drop has taken control of Div 3 – for now – there is still more than 50% of the course to go.

The wind predictor now says wind strength will remain good for the next number of days with averages along the course in the 15 – 20 kt range – perfect conditions. Winds get a little lighter in the middle of the course later next week, but the fleet should be well south of that and in sight of the finish by then.

At present the concern about hurricanes seems to be fading. The remnants of tropical storm Celia will pass north of Hawaii this weekend, well ahead of the fleet. The next storm is hurricane Darby, which is expected to be downgraded from hurricane to tropical storm in the next 48 hours. It will approach Hawaii from the southwest sometime next weekend, hopefully weaker still and after the boats have finished, but watchfulness is warranted.

Insight into Crossfire’s Retirement Decision
The Vic-Maui Race record may well fall, but it won’t be Crossfire that gets it. Lou Bianco’s Reichel-Pugh 55 pulled out of the race a few hours ago after a series of incidents yesterday dictated the boat be pointed back home to Seattle. Here are the details from navigator Bruce Hedrick:

“We decided to withdraw after a litany of problems just all added up. Among the first problems were losing the wind instruments and Windex due to violent motion at the masthead. At dawn yesterday the wind had built to 20-22 knots and boat speed was steady in the upper teens to mid 20’s. The boat was flying and completely in control. Being the prudent sailors we are we decided to change down to the A4. All went well until about noon when we blew that kite up doing 28.4 knots. We took it down and changed to the A5. Conditions worsened after we blew the A4. With the A5 we were trucking.

“Then the halyard on the A5 parted right where it came out of the spar, just above the deck block. HUH? The A5 dropped of course and was then shredded. Pulled the wreckage out of the water and got ready to go to the J2 and a staysail. Then we figured out that the halyard hadn’t chafed, it just failed. We found out we were sailing on all halyards that had come with the boat. With more failures imminent and no heavy kites to use on the approach to Hawaii we decided it was time to do the safe thing and we retired. Seattle was closer, so we’re headed home.

“This is a huge bummer. Crossfire is a rocket and the crew was really into the program. I set the top speed of 31.1 knots. Scott Anderson was #2 at 30.0 knots Lou Bianco was #3 at 28.8 knots. We’re on the wind now with just the J5 up trying to get closer to the high and less wind which should happen this afternoon. We’ll power north, get into the northwesterlies and sail back to Seattle.”

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Source: Vic-Maui Race

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