Ronstan

Pacific Cup: Full Speed to the Finish Line

Published on July 24th, 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 July 24.


Eleven more boats finished on July 23, and three on the morning of July 24, and bringing their crew and their war stories to Kaneohe Yacht Club. Despite the sometimes squally conditions at the dock, every boat is met by volunteers bearing leis, mai tais, fresh pineapple, and a warm Hawaiian welcome. With tropical storm Darby approaching, larger boats have been required to anchor out near Coconut Island to protect both the boats and the docks from damage due to predicted high winds. KYC volunteers are providing shuttle service to and from the boats. With the track of Darby no longer a threat to those boats still at sea, they have been cleared to proceed at full speed to the finish line.

Arriving back home to Kaneohe was bittersweet for J/109 RV Aloha, who were in third place in the Weems and Plath Division for much of the race. Unfortunately, when the boat was 150 miles from the finish, the spinnaker filled and the mast broke midway, falling to the port side. “They were normal conditions. We were not over powered,” said Sanborn. “We were racing hard and feeling very comfortable, with a stellar crew.” The crew cut off the new main and the new spinnaker. “It went down to Davey Jones’ locker,” said Sanborn. Most importantly, the crew were all safe and when Sanborn calculated how much fuel they had and how far they had to go, the numbers tallied almost precisely. A huge crowd gathered at the dock to welcome the hometown team back to KYC.

With RV Aloha out of the running, the J/44 Viajante finished with a provisional third in the Weems & Plath Division. Rudder problems required some fixing that made driving difficult at times and slowed the boat down. Given the conditions, skipper Bill Williams decided, wisely, to take things conservatively. The crossing was “pretty copacetic”, according to crew member Dogen Hannah. “We took our foot off the pedal at times,” said Hannah. And that was OK.”

Also finishing on Saturday were the J/35 Shearwater, and the Beneteau 45f5, Ohana. “We persevered,” said Karl Haflinger, skipper of the J/35 Shearwater. “We didn’t feel we were overwhelmed by the conditions but were, never-the-less, humbled by them.” After a longer than expected period of wet weather, skipper and crew particularly enjoyed the last few days when the water became blue, the sun came out and an ahi became sashimi. “It was fun – it was fast.”

All the boats in the Alaska Airlines Division have now finished. Arriving on Saturday and Sunday morning were the Beneteau 411 Nota Bene, and the Express 37s Bullet and One-eyed Jack.

In the Pasha Hawaii Division, Surprise and Rufless finished within 50 minutes of each other. This was the fourth Pac Cup for Robert Hinden and the second on his Schumacher 46 Surprise. “This was way more of adventure than I have ever had before,” says Hinden. “We had an adventure from start to finish and even after the finish. I think I’ve gotten my adventure quota for this race.” When Tropical Storm Darby became an issue, Hinden was particularly happy he had upgraded his sat phone and had it installed below so he could talk to the weather experts daily.

Rufus Sjoberg, the skipper of the Melges 32 Rufless described the race, “We had an awesome adventure the whole way through,” said Sjoberg. “It was a little too much breeze for this boat we were sailing. A lot of people were wondering if we were going to make it. This is a lake boat.” As they backed into their slip, they found they had brought a souvenir with them: several yards of fishing rope a few inches in diameter that had wrapped around the keel.

Two boats in the North Sails Double Handed Division 2 finished on Saturday, Double Espresso and Spadefoot. Olson 30 Double Espresso crew have a combined 21 Hawaiian crossings. However it was the first Pac Cup for skipper Jason Lauer who tapped Pac Cup veteran Paul Kamen as crew shortly before the race when his other crew had to withdraw. With the high winds and confused seas, Lauer said he found Kamen’s experience invaluable. “I was very happy to have Paul onboard,” said Lauer. “Paul is like a warm fuzzy blanket. When he’s there, you just know it’s going to be OK.” Lauer said he went through a huge mix of emotions during the trip. “There was fear and there was joy.”

Having sailed their J/120 Shearwater in the 2014 Pac Cup, Chris and Justin Wolfe moved to the smaller, lighter, trailerable Schumacher 28 Spadefoot. They quickly found the boat overpowered with a spinnaker and sailed most of the race with a main and a storm jib. In their blog, they describe their attempts at wildlife rescue underway, “We’ve valiantly tried to save 100’s of flying fishlings that land on decks. I am sure we will discover their little bodies in the months to come. They are beautiful, and it’s something to see as 20-30 at a time fly out of waves.” Kamen was feeling much less charitable towards the fish after one hit him on the forehead hard hard enough to cause a gash.

The focus was on food and laughter on the two boats that finished Saturday in the Latitude 38 Cruising Division – Aquavit and Vera Cruz. The crew on the Jeanneau 42 Aquavit became competitive when told that the Jeanneau 57, Ticket II, claimed that they had the best food in the race. “A larger boat size doesn’t mean you have better food,” said skipper Michael Hutchinson.”

Also in the Latitude 38 Cruising Division, Beneteau First, Vera Cruz, would probably win the award for most laughter onboard. Skipper Michael Johnson crew included his wife Vera and daughters Nika and Kira, plus their Nika’s fiancé Mike and Kira’s boyfriend Beau. Nika, Kira, Mike and Beau had very little sailing experience before the race. “When we first put up the spinnaker, my dad explained how to do it for maybe five minutes and then started yelling at us,” said Nika. “It was so chaotic, I said, ‘Dad we don’t know what you’re talking about!’” Within a few days, however, she said they were tacking and gybing with ease. Mike and Nika remain engaged. Beau said, “I was still wanting to kiss Kira after two weeks with no showers.” The girls said the trip had been a dream of their dad’s for years. “I just graduated from college and my sister just graduated from high school,” says Nika. “We didn’t have any big arguments. I’ve never laughed so much.”

There is a break in finishers with the next boats expected to arrive in the early morning hours of Monday, July 25. The break is providing many of the volunteers with some time to catch up on their rest before the remaining 14 boats arrive.

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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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