Overcoming adversity while offshore

Published on July 23rd, 2018

Overcoming adversity is part of life, and a huge part of life while offshore racing. For the biennial Pacific Cup Race to Hawaii, the usually blustery first few days out of California, plus the hard tradewind running to the finish, can take its toll on even the best-prepared boats.

With four of the divisions having completed the 20th edition of the race, and the pecking order pretty well established in the other four divisions, here’s a list of adversity some of the 60 teams felt along the 2,070 nm course from San Francisco to Kaneohe Bay.

• Green Buffalo (Cal 40) had a steering cable failure. Switched to autopilot while they repaired it and carried on racing, taking first in their division and leading the Pac Cup for many days. Later, their vang pulled off the mast. Also repaired.
• Highlander (Cal 40) suffered a broken boom. While this effectively ended their contention for race honors, they were able to continue to race and make good progress under headsails alone (just three miles from finish at this writing)
• Angelique (Columbia 57): Another broken boom. Again, continuing under headsails and making 7 knots at this writing.
• Abstract (J/105): While in the middle of posting a very saucy 25-mile check-in, a diagonal shroud on Abstract’s rig parted, potentially weakening the mast support. A chastened team reduced sail and proceeded to a nice fourth place finish, not affected by the minor mishap.
• Rage (Wylie 70): They began to exhibit some rig issues only a few days into the race. Ultimately, they lost a spreader, compelling them to significantly reduce sail. They arrived in Kaneohe in great spirits, however.
• Name Withheld: Sometimes the issues can be a little laughable. The toilet seat came off the head. Not the end of the world, but when a portable light took a tumble and dropped its batteries into the head, the entire mechanism had to be disassembled to retrieve them and avoid a clog!
• Knot Behaving (Jeanneau 379): Steering problems (“a loud bang”) led them to deploy their nicely-made emergency rudder. Its tiller failed and so they are steering with a tried-and-true technique of pulling the rudder to port or starboard with lines.

Sometimes turning back is the best move. The retirees include Compañera (Farr 44) with a leaky rudder seal, and Limitless (Express 37) and Cetacea (Hudson Force 50), each with steering issues, made the prudent decision to turn back early in the race.

While many smaller issues have likely been left off this list, it’s a list to which nobody aspires, but there is a certain satisfaction to dealing with what comes up and carrying on.

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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.

Note: Like a few other boats, Pyewacket and Blue are not eligible for ‘overall’ Pacific Cup honors. They are using new specialty reaching sails sometimes called “tweeners.” These sails are recently approved under ORR but not permitted under PHRF, which is being used to score the Pac Cup overall.

When using multiple ratings systems, as is done in Pacific Cup to provide broad competition between divisions, these kinds of strategic choices can arise. This will get attention for the 2020 edition of the race with that hindsight.

Source, Ronnie Simpson, Pacific Cup

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