Pacific Cup: Fools make predictions

Published on July 17th, 2018

(July 17, 2018) – One thing is for certain about the 2018 Pacific Cup; at no point has it ever been a boring race. With constant weather changes, never-ending lead changes, gut-wrenching tactical decisions to be made, and huge splits in the fleet as a result, this race is poised to come down to the wire before most, if not all, of the results are decided.

Just when we thought the foiling new Beneteau F3 A Fond le Girafon may be first over the line and the storied Cal 40 Green Buffalo with a trophy case full of hardware would add another big one, they both got nearly becalmed up north while a mini-maxi and a west coast sled from the fourth start day slipped away from the coast unscathed and began a meteoric rise up through the ranks.

Two days ago, we watched the Mark Mills designed 68′ mini-maxi Prospector with interest as they began legging out on their fleet and potentially putting themselves in a position to be first over the line and spoil A Fond le Girafon’s Cinderella story.

One day ago, chatter of them potentially being a contender for the overall Pacific Cup (though likely not winning their division, more on that later…) began circulating throughout the Pac Cup race team, and now it’s beginning to look like a real possibility – if not probability – that Prospector could well claim first to finish, fastest elapsed time and the Pacific Cup overall.

With renowned navigator Artie Means calling the shots on routing, the boat is likely to leave very little time on the table when making her way down the race course and into Kaneohe. After the way this race has evolved, however, making any bold predictions looks unwise until boats are nestled in the barn.

While Prospector is beginning to look like a very real contender to win the Pacific Cup overall, they will likely not win their division as the mighty Andrews 68 Pyewacket is putting in a performance for the ages to take a commanding lead in the BMW of San Rafael E division (ORR >1.099). But due to somewhat of a technicality, Pyewacket will not be eligible for the Pacific Cup overall award as a result of flying a specialty reaching sail that is legal under the ORR rule under which the big boats are racing, but not under PHRF which is the rule that is used to decide the overall Pacific Cup winner.

Having said all of that, Pyewacket and her crew of world-renowned sailors including Volvo Ocean Race superstars Tom Addis, Stu Bannatyne and Kaneohe’s own Mark Towill, not to mention 5-time Olympic medallist Torben Grael, have been absolutely on fire since the start and are building up a solid cushion over her divisional rivals, including the other three ‘sleds’ in the E division, all of which are faster rated boats.

One reason for Prospector’s constantly increasing chances of winning the overall Pacific Cup award is that current overall corrected time leader Green Buffalo, Jim Quanci’s green Cal 40 that has led since the start, has been sailing below 5 knots of boat speed for more than a day now. Making matters even worse, the Buffalo is pointed south, both on the race course and on the leaderboard.

Putting in a daily run of just 65 nautical miles (made good) yesterday, she is on a slippery slope that could see much of the Express 27 fleet, and potentially her Cal 40 rival Highlander move past her in the rankings. Green Buffalo isn’t alone either; the Beneteau Figaro 3 A Fond le Girafon, Hanse 505 Outremer, and the J/105 Abstract have all been on the same slow-moving pain train, though are just now beginning to re-accelerate.

Playing the north very rarely pays dividends in a Hawaii race, and while it looked good while it lasted, it now begins to look more and more like the southerly boats will reap the rewards of making long-term investments early and not picking the low-hanging fruit and easy miles that existed up north in the early stages of this race.

As a result of Douglas Pihlaja’s J/105 Abstract getting stuck up north and fading fast in the rankings, the DH2/ Mount Gay Rum doublehanded division has been blown wide open and could now be a four-way battle between four quite different boats: Moore 24 Foamy, Santa Cruz 27 Zipper, Antrim 27 Bacon Berger, and the Donovan 30 Wolfpack.

Lester Robertson sailed a Moore 24 to Hawaii 38 years ago in the first-ever Singlehanded Transpac and all these years later, Lester is still doing his thing. Owning the south since day one, the little Moore has slowly but surely worked her way up the leaderboard and as of this writing holds a very small margin, just 30 minutes on corrected time, over Alexia Fischer’s Santa Cruz 27 Zipper, who has had tracker issues for the duration of the race and does not display properly on the race’s YellowBrick tracker.

Just a few more hours off the pace, Bacon Berger, the Antrim 27 sailed by Kaneohe Yacht Club Commodore Frederic Berg and Mikey Bacon is more or less gybing down the rhumb line now, while running fairly hot angles and making great speed. Now taking another hitch south is perennial contender and two-time defending division champions Bill and Melinda Erkelens on the Jim Donovan-designed MORC 30 Wolfpack.

With one boat working the rhumb line, two boats in the middle and one boat playing the south hard, this race is an absolutely fascinating race between some phenomenal sailors who are pulling out every trick in the playbook.

Our other doublehanded division in this race, the DH1/ Pau Maui Vodka division promised to be a close one from day one, and it certainly has not disappointed. A six-boat one-design Express 27 division, the fleet has stayed in pretty close formation south of the rhumb line and continues to see four boats consistently trading positions on the leaderboard.

Alternate Reality is leading at the moment over Loose Cannon, Motorcycle Irene and Fired Up! – in that order – but don’t get too attached to that order as the positions are likely to have shuffled again by tomorrow. In the wake of the Volvo Ocean Race, this is the best one-design ocean race going right now.

One can’t forget about Rebecca Hinden’s fully-crewed Express 27 Bombora, who has faded slightly on the overall leaderboard but remains a top contender and may even be able to overtake Green Buffalo in the Coral Reef Sailing Apparel A division (PHRF-DW <= 615), after she gained a staggering FIFTY miles on Green Buffalo in the last 24 hours.

The Weems & Plath B division (DW PHRF 614 to 583) has also seen the boats at the top of the leaderboard compress a bit in the corrected rankings, though Benjamin Rummen’s Farr 1220 The Fugitive currently remains atop the leaderboard, though the Swan 46 Free, Davidson 44 Imagine and Grand Soleil 50 Alessandra are all just a handful of hours behind on corrected time.

The attrition division received a new entry as Paul Eichen’s Farr 44 Companera have retired from the race, bound for San Diego with rudder issues. All souls onboard are safe and the situation is said to be ‘quite manageable’.

Another thrilling battle is that of the Alaska Airlines C division (DW PHRF 582 to 550) in which Phil Wampold’s J/92 Zaff and Dean Treadway’s famous Farr 36 Sweet Okole are nearly tied on the tracker’s corrected time calculations, though are sailing quite different routes. Okole appears to have just set an A2 or similar and is beginning to soak down to the rhumb line, while Zaff runs just south of rhumb and the Hobie 33 Aloha and the Evelyn 32-2 Poke and Destroy are match racing down the rhumb line to fill the final podium position.

One would expect Sweet Okole to benefit from her new rig and asymmetrical spinnaker inventory in the later running stages of this race, though again any bold predictions in this race have shown to be risky as it’s proven to be a highly competitive division as originally anticipated.

The Pasha Hawaii D division (ORR tcf <= 1.099) continues to be controlled by Gregory Mullins’ Farr 52 Zamazaan, who has proven themselves to be the class of the fleet in the early stages of this race, jumping out to a commanding lead in division while J World’s Hula Girl remains second in fleet, though Chris Kramer’s Columbia 32 Six Brothers continues to impress and slowly make gains on Hula Girl as the breeze moves aft and the smaller, lightweight sportboat can begin surfing earlier than her larger, heavier rivals.

The Kolea Cruising division has begun to see some real action on the leaderboard as Emmanuel Sauquet’s Hanse 505 Outremer slowed alongside the other northerly boats, allowing her sistership Anais to make inroads into her once commanding lead. Outremer is slowly getting back up to speed, but still remains two knots slower than her sistership who is well south of her, and continuing to head further south, towards the stronger breeze that may allow her to continue to make gains against her once-dominant sistership which sails with Vendée Globe superstar Tanguy de Lamotte onboard.

Paul Koenig’s Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 40.3 Bear Boat continues sailing at more than 7 knots, near the rhumb line and relatively close to Anais, and is currently rounding out the cruiser’s podium, while James Peo’s Jeanneau 379 Knot Behaving also has a steering system that is not behaving. The crew reports that they are running under emergency rudder at a leisurely 5 knots, though they don’t seem too perturbed.

Race detailsEntry listStart timesTrackerResultsFacebook

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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