Vic-Maui: Riding Out Darby

Published on July 23rd, 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 23…

Riding Out Darby
There is some interest in how the boats plan to ride out Tropical Storm Darby. Everybody (still racing and those ashore) are on tender-hooks waiting to see what happens as the storm front approaches. At 1700 HST it is reported to be entered on the SE corner of the Big Island and heading toward the south side of Maui at 10 kts. The forecast is for arrival and nasty weather overnight.

There are 11 boats remaining at sea. Most are mostly NE of Darby’s path and now proceeding directly to Maui in Darby’s wake. They are all in good shape, with some wishing for more wind. Alegria X is pushing hard to reach the Finish prior to Darby becoming an issue. at 1730 HST they were 57 miles away and expected to arrive around 10:30 pm tonight. Expresso is sailing parallel to the Finish Line about 200 miles away and waiting for Darby to pass, then gybe and lead the rest to the Finish on Sunday night/Monday morning.

The boats who have finished have different strategies. While there appears to be a calm before the storm in Lahaina (the weather is actually perfect at 1700 HST), so have people on storm anchor watch seems a little silly. But Kinetic, Atalanta and Longboard are too deep to come into Lahaina Harbour and crew will be on board all night ready to bail out of the Lahaina Roadstead for safer conditions (probably Ma’alaea) if necessary. Westerly and Valkyrie bailed out and are safe in Ali Wai basin in Honolulu. And the rest are packed like sardines inside Lahaina Harbour with every other vessel that can find a spot. Hopefully they are packed so tight and roped and rendered that they can weather the weather that may come.

Some of the local believe that Darby will blow up on the Big Island and not be too big a deal on Maui. The Vic-Maui boats are listening, but not taking chances. Plan for the Worst, Hope for the Best.

Kraken 1, Darby No Score
In a real race, not the artificial ones that sailboats make up between themselves, Kraken has beat Mother Nature’s child – Darby. Mark and Annette Malacek’s Beneteau First 40.7 from West Vancouver Yacht Club crossed the finish line around 1:45 pm local time. It was great relief to the many family and fans that greeted Kraken’s arrival.

While the approach to the Finish deteriorated a bit, it was mostly in the form of rain, not extra wind. And conditions in the afternoon here in Lahaina are actually nicer than usual in Pailolo Channel. Perhaps this is the proverbial calm before the storm.

Another boat arrives and there is another incredible adventure to talk about. While the race against Darby certainly makes for good drama, the real story was the week of power reaching in high wind conditions. The discussion starts to center on what is part of the boat and what gets included in consumables that the crew shares in. Are spinnakers considered consumables like food and fuel? And while Kraken was cracking on to finish ahead of Darby, one of the crew got cracked on the head yesterday and required stitches, but all is okay if with a slightly bigger scar. It adds to the bruised ribs, broken toes, jammed fingers and wrenched shoulders that many crew aboard all vessels are self-medicating for with MaiTais and Vitamin Ibuprofen.

Rain Drop Arrives to Early Morning Fanfare
Looking like winners in their division as Darby split their competition behind them, Rain Drop finished this morning. Joby Easton aboard his Cascade 36, a very early example of fibreglass production boatbuilding and sailing for the Rose City YC in Portland, arrived just before 4 am on Saturday morning and joined Equus and String Theory safely in the harbour to wait out Darby’s arrival.

Despite the early hours, there was a crowd of family waiting for two father/son duo’s on Rain Drop. Carson and Carter joined their Dads Joby (Overall winner of Pac Cup in 2008) and Bill Huseby (son of 2012 Vic-Maui Overall winner Tom Huseby). While it was a little early for MaiTais for any but the crew and most hearty of greeters, the highlight was the speech of Bill and size of appetites.

Darby Update – O Dark Hundred
The good people at Commander’s Weather, a pre-eminent provider of offshore weather and routing advice to racing and cruising sailors have been very kind to share their views of Tropical Storm Darby.

“At 2:30 PDT Saturday, Darby was centered near 18.8N 153.5w, about 335 miles ESE of Honolulu ,Hawaii, moving 280 degrees at 8 kts. Top winds are 50 kts mostly in squalls now near and S of the center.

Expect Darby to turn more NW next 24 hours and pass just about right over the Big Island Sat evening and likely just S of Honolulu midday Sunday and then exit to the NW of the Islands on Monday. Darby continues to keep a significant circulation but the cluster of strong squalls has shifted to the S of the center early today.

Darby will begin to weaken further Saturday night as it crosses the Big Island and will be just a minimal tropical storm when it passes S of Honolulu midday Sunday.

Boats continuing to Hawaii will get into increasing NE-E winds to 22-30 kts later Saturday and there could be some squally showers to 35 kts for boats arriving Sat evening and potential winds to 30-40+kts after midnight tonight thru Sunday.”

Most of the remaining boats still racing are well north or northeast of the storm track. Still racing to get into Lahaina in advance of the front are Kraken who is expected early Saturday afternoon, and Alegria X who is cutting it close, but may be adjusting strategy to let storm pass to south of them, just a Expresso did overnight.

While Lahaina is usually one of the better anchorages in Hawaii, it is still exposed to winds from the wrong direction. So boats that have finished are thinking about their strategies in case conditions at Lahaina get difficult. Westerly left for Oahu Friday night and is safety in Honolulu. Valkyrie was planning to leave a first light on Saturday (a hour of so from now). Longboard has battened everything down and will ride out the conditions, while Kinetic and Atalanta will review their plans today with the latest weather updates. Equus, String Theory and just now, Rain Drop are behind the breakwater in Lahaina harbour.

While Darby might weaken significantly as it hits the mountains of the Big Island, nobody is taking things for granted. “Plan for the worst and hope for the best”

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Source: Vic-Maui Race

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