Pacific Cup: Not a normal edition

Published on July 15th, 2018

(July 15, 2018) – After the fourth and final starting group on July 13, the 20th edition of the Pacific Cup to Hawaii is officially on but far from stable with movement all over the leaderboard and all over the race track.

Perhaps most importantly, the day two and three starters, who had been going painfully slow since sailing out under the Golden Gate Bridge, have finally hooked into moderate northerly pressure that has them reaching towards Hawaii and putting them on track to make their first respectable daily runs of the race.

Meanwhile, at the head of the fleet, the first wave of starters continue to make decent boat speed down the course while beginning to plan ahead for the finish. Most notably, the first wave’s fastest and most northerly boat, Charles Devanneaux’s Beneteau Figaro 3 A Fond le Girafon has gybed over to port and is now pointing directly at the Hawaiian Islands.

Now under 1,000 miles to go, the revolutionary new foiling one-design offshore racer has slowed significantly but retains a commanding lead in her quest to become the first boat over the finish line. Though A Fond le Girafon is racing with an “experimental” rating, meaning that she won’t be eligible for overall awards, Devanneaux and co-skipper Matthieu Damerval are writing a beautiful chapter in the long story of this race.

Jim Quanci and his Cal 40 Green Buffalo continue to lead the race overall on corrected time. With the forecast staying more or less the same, meaning moderate tradewinds down the race track, Green Buffalo is constantly strengthening her grip on overall honors.

When legendary naval architect Bill Lapworth first penned the Cal 40 design on a cocktail napkin in the 60s, he did so with the intent of building a production racer that would excel in off-the-breeze conditions and win races to Hawaii. Incredibly, more than half a century later, his designs are running 1-2 overall in the 20th running of the Pacific Cup, further adding to the many accomplishments of this legendary design.

Another boat that is sailing a phenomenal race, Douglas Pihlaja’s J/105 Abstract retains her corrected-time lead in the DH2/ Mount Gay Rum division and continues her slow and steady march up the leaderboard; a remarkable accomplishment for a doublehanded entry, again proving the versatility of the J/105 design. Abstract’s lead is anything but secure, however, as Frederic Berg and Mikey Bacon on the Antrim 27 Bacon Berger are rumbling down the rhumb line and matching Abstract on boat speed.

With just a small increase in pressure, which the boats should sail themselves into fairly soon, the little 27-foot speedster should be able to begin surfing just slightly, and will aim to close the gap. Sean and Kim Mulvihill’s J/120 Jamani is currently rounding out the podium, also from the northerly group, giving us our first indication that the northerly option may well prove to have been a winning move.

Once these three northerly boats gybe towards the islands and begin consolidating with their southerly rivals, they should cross well in front. North doesn’t often pay in a Hawaii race, but the 2018 Pacific Cup has proven to be a slightly atypical year thus far.

DH1/ Pau Maui Vodka has turned into a barn burner with the top 4 boats in this 6-boat Express 27 fleet compressing significantly on the leaderboard. Most notably perhaps is that pre-race favorites Will Paxton and Zachery Anderson have slipped to 4th in division on Motorcycle Irene. Before the race, the dockside chatter wasn’t just if Irene would be able to win the division, but by how much.

In the early reaching stages, Irene showed a significant boat speed advantage, likely due in large part to a very customized and tricked-out sail inventory with specialty reaching jibs. Now going dead downwind in light to moderate trades, the 27-footer has found herself in a close battle with current division leader Fired Up!, while Alternate Reality and Loose Cannon round out the podium.

With many sailing fans experiencing withdrawal symptoms after a thrilling conclusion to the Volvo Ocean Race, these 6 Express 27’s look to fill the void by crossing gybes all the way into Kaneohe for what should be a thrilling finish.

The highly-anticipated Alaska Airlines C Division (DW PHRF 582 to 550) continues to live up to expectations with Dean Treadway’s Farr 36 Sweet Okole and Phil Wampold’s J/92 Zaff swapping the corrected-time divisional lead on seemingly every check-in. Okole will likely hold an advantage in dead-downwind running through moderate conditions, owing to her longer waterline length and her spinnaker pole, which will allow her to square back and run deeper, while Zaff’s lighter weight and more modern design may allow her to begin surfing just a bit sooner.

For now, however, the boats are locked into a tight duel while the others look to begin making inroads into their lead. Shawn Ivie’s Express 37 LImitless, currently in third place in division, appears to have thrown in a gybe to the south just before this writing, and will certainly be a boat to watch in the future.

Michael Chobotov’s Jeanneau 49 Venture has withdrawn from the race and is en route back to San Francisco. With a very slow start on July 11 and some of the crew having other commitments that they feared may be missed by a delayed arrival in Kaneohe, the team made an about face, almost exactly at the same time as the fleet reached the northerly pressure.

At the head of the fleet, Benjamin Rummen’s Farr 1220 The Fugitive continues to lead while Wyatt Jones’ Davidson 44 Imagine has solidified her grip on second place. With a veteran Pac Cup navigator in Paul Kamen, Imagine may be a somewhat unexpected threat to grab the lead further on down the track.

Limitless, in the Weems & Plath Division (DW PHRF 614 to 583), has also reluctantly made the decision to return to the barn. Citing steering problems (lower bearing, it seems), they have opted for the better part of valor.

Pasha Hawaii D division (ORR tcf <= 1.099) looked to be blown wide open by J World's Cazan making a decisive move to the south early on, and threatening to hook into pressure while her northerly rivals drifted, but with the arrival of moderate northerlies for the rest of the fleet, Gregory Mullins' Farr 52 Zamazaan and her highly talented and experienced crew, have moved into the divisional lead and are making great speed towards Hawaii. Just off her hip, J World's Hula Girl is matching her on boat speed and looking towards the downwind conditions later in the race to make her move. At the back of the fleet, the two small sports boats - Rufus Sjoberg's Melges 32 Rufless and Chris Kramer's Columbia 32 Six Brothers - struggled in the light conditions early, and will now look toward the stronger winds and the downwind conditions later in the race to try to get back in touch with her larger, longer rivals. South of the day two and three starters, the final wave of 'big' boats in the BMW of San Rafael E division (ORR >1.099) are beginning to stretch their legs in the north-north westerly breeze that will carry them towards the trades.

The Mills 68 Prospector has a commanding lead boat-for-boat, while Roy Pat Disney’s Pyewacket has not surprisingly jumped out to a big lead on corrected time. Michael Schoendorf’s Riptide 41 Blue has begun to accelerate in the stronger winds as she tries to keep touch with the bigger boats, biding their time until reaching the trades and getting into the downwind conditions that will better allow her to sail to her rating.

In the cruiser division, Emmanuel Sauquet’s Hanse 505 Outremer remains in 2nd place on line honors while sistership Anais has faded after sailing very slowly yesterday along the rhumb line. Many in the cruising fleet slowed more significantly during the light air than their racing rivals and are beginning to get back up to pace.

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Background: This is the 20th edition of the 2,070 nm Pacific Cup Race from San Francisco to Kaneohe Bay, Oahu. The start of the fleet was staggered with divisions beginning on July 9, 11, 12, and 13.

Source, Ronnie Simpson, Pacific Cup

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