Pacific Cup: Nothing is certain

Published on July 16th, 2018

(July 16, 2018) – The leaderboard for the Pacific Cup Race to Hawaii does not look much different than yesterday, but there are some very major developments occurring on the race course which threaten to significantly impact the overall rankings in this 20th edition of the crossing.

Most notably, the northerly boats in the first wave of starters have sailed into a large area of very light winds and hit the brakes. Furthermore, the final group of starters have proven to get off to a quicker start than predicted and are storming towards the top of the overall Pacific Cup leaderboard as current overall PHRF and Pac Cup leader Green Buffalo was sailing at less than four knots this morning.

Also up north and showing reduced boat speeds are the top cruising boat and still 2nd on line honors, Outremer, as well as the leading boat in the DH2/ Mount Gay Rum division, Douglas Pilhaja’s J/105 Abstract. As these northerly boats all take their first major hitch south on a port gybe, they will begin to consolidate with the more southerly boats in the fleet, who are still on starboard and rumbling towards Hawaii, albeit still fairly slowly, though comparatively quicker than their northerly rivals.

If the most southerly boats can reach the strongest breeze on the course and the northerly boats remain slow, this most recent development could again threaten to blow the race wide open.

With lead boat, the experimentally-rated A Fond le Girafon slowing to just 4 knots or so for the last day, their ETA into Kaneohe is getting pushed further and further back, while far behind them the Mills 68 Prospector – the fastest boat in the entire fleet – is cruising along at a steady 14+ knots as of this writing.

Doing what modern mini-maxi’s do, the big Mark Mills designed yacht owned by the Shelter Island Transatlantic Partners, has already blazed a path past all of the day two and three starters and should soon begin overhauling the first wave of starters in wholesale fashion.

With most of the first wave of starters in the southerly pack at around the halfway mark and Prospector just 400 miles astern, it now looks like a day four starter may well be the first boat into Kaneohe. Prospector is currently correcting out to 2nd overall in the ORR divisions and 2nd in the BMW of San Rafael E Division (ORR >1.099).

Top honors for ORR and E division currently belongs to pre-race favorite Pyewacket, the famous Alan Andrews designed sled owned by Roy Pat Disney and sailing with internationally acclaimed crewmembers such as navigator Tom Addis, VOR stud Stu Bannatyne, and 5-time Olympic medalist Torben Grael.

Again proving why one-design racing is so thrilling to watch, much of the Express 27 fleet appears to be sailing within sight of one another with the top four boats seemingly playing musical chairs on the leaderboard; it’s that close. We have a new leader in the DH1/ Pau Maui Vodka division (Express 27s DH) in Alternate Reality, as Loose Cannon and Fired Up! also find themselves on the podium at the moment while pre-race favorite Motorcycle Irene is in a dog fight in this competitive fleet and currently sails in 4th place, though all positions are still up for grabs.

Rebecca Hinden’s Express 27 Bombora, which is sailing three-up in the Coral Reef Sailing Apparel A division (PHRF-DW <= 615) still remains ahead of all of the doublehanded Express 27’s on handicap, but with her slightly more northerly position, she should soon be passed by some of the more southerly boats who are sailing more than a knot faster to contest for overall Express 27 honors.

Benjamin Rummen’s Farr 1220 The Fugitive remains in a steady first place in the Weems & Plath B division (DW PHRF 614 to 583), though just a handful of hours on corrected time over her pursuers, which are tightly clustered together. The Swan 46 Free, Grand Soleil 50 Alessandra, Davidson 44 Imagine, and Farr 44 Companera are all essentially tied on corrected time, with everything still to play for.

Taking a conservative, middle of the road approach, this fleet should be slow and steady towards the finish. Squared back and running deep, this should be a low-and-slow drag race to the barn in Kaneohe with little chance for a major tactical home run to blow the division open.

The other fleet of day two starters, the Alaska Airlines C division (DW PHRF 582 to 550) is living up to the pre-race hype with Dean Treadway’s Farr 36 Sweet Okole virtually tied on corrected time with Phil Wampold’s J/92 Zaff, who is sailing neck and neck with the Hobie 33 Aloha and the Evelyn 32-2 Poke and Destroy.

As the breeze continues to move aft and this becomes a true downwind race, Zaff will have her work cut out for her to run deep angles in the light-to-moderate trades that are forecast to the finish. The big questions will be whether Okole can leg out on her rivals, if Zaff can keep up, and if the smaller, lighter Hobie 33 and Evelyn 32 can make gains.

In the Pasha Hawaii D division (ORR tcf <= 1.099), J World’s Cazan’s early flyer to the south looked brilliant in the short-term, while her more northerly rivals were becalmed, but once they picked up the breeze, they have accelerated into the lead as Cazan has faded. Gregory Mullins’ Farr 52 Zamazaan and her crew, which includes several professional sailors, has jumped out to a big lead in division, while J World’s Hula Girl is off their port quarter, though sailing slightly slower and on a faster rated boat.

It is a commendable effort from a group of pay-to-play sailors on J World’s Hula Girl who are sailing their hearts out against the wicked up pro crew on Zamazaan. The J/120 Hokulani is rounding out the podium at the moment, while Chris Kramer’s 32-foot rocketship Six Brothers continues to move up the leaderboard after struggling in the early stages. As the breeze continues to move aft, watch for Six Brothers to displace Hokulani on the leaderboard; at the moment, the two are virtually tied.

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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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