Hawaii bound

Pacific Cup sets sail tomorrow

Saturday July 19th 2008, Author: Barby MacGowan, Location: United Kingdom
All of the 55 entrants scheduled to start this year's Pacific Cup race from San Francisco to Hawaii so far have crossed in front of Saint Francis Yacht Club to start. There will be no starts on Friday, perhaps honoring a sailors' tradition about not starting voyages on Fridays, and six more boats will depart for Oahu's Kaneohe Bay on Saturday.

Saturday's start will see the fastest in the fleet: light long race machines designed to make the crossing in times close to a week or less. Constructed of carbon fibre, titanium, and no small amount of careful engineering, these boats are the greyhounds of the fleet and include Philippe Kahn's Pegasus (Honolulu), hoping to beat Stan Honey's double-handed record of 11 days, 5 hours, 33 minutes and 46 seconds, as well as larger, fully-crewed efforts like Velos, a 73ft custom sloop skippered by Kjell Hesterhave (Temecula, CA).

The boats already racing report pleasant sailing conditions after a frustratingly light Monday. The weather patterns had been somewhat unusual for the beginning of the race, leading many competitors to adopt initial courses well north or south of conventional strategies. Raindrop, a Cascade 36 sailed by Joby Easton and Bill Huseby (Portland, Ore.), took a major dive south and has profited by the move, holding on to a solid first place in the double-handed 1 division.

Among the fully-crewed boats, Shaman, a Cal 40 from Alameda, CA, is leading division A, but only a few hours projected time separate her from the runners-up. Similarly, Music, a Nordic 44 from Bellingham, WA, and Sweet Okole, a Farr 36 from Richmond, Calif. lead their divisions by thin margins at the time of this writing.

At the daily 'Children's Hour', a free-format radio discussion time among the racers, spirits were high as a good breeze had filled in, allowing boats to proceed toward their chosen waypoints with speed. "No Ka Oi is Hawaiian for 'perfectly trimmed spinnaker'" announced a spokesman for No Ka Oi, a Gibsea 43 from Brisbane, CA. A bit later, Tiki Blue (Beneteau 423 from San Francisco) announced the loss of a pair of spinnakers to wind perhaps a bit too boisterous for the choice of course and sail. Repairs are underway.

Also underway, according to reports, are repairs to two heads (marine toilets), two radios, and at least one generator. Unlike in-the-bay racing, ocean racing over long distances calls not only for superior tactics and boat handling skills, but also equipment repair skills, for broken gear will not only slow a boat's progress but also will impair crew comfort and possibly safety. Racers carry a range of backup and overlapping safety gear to assure a safe - if not always swift - passage.

The Pacific Cup: Started in 1980, the Pacific Cup race has attracted sailors of all stripes, from the hard-core ocean racer to the family ready and prepared for a true adventure. Roy Disney, Stan Honey, Philippe Kahn, and other luminaries in the sport have taken home Pacific Cup trophies, as have many family enterprises. The 2008 race will be one of the most heavily-attended in recent years, with 61 entries from 24 to 73 feet competing for a range of trophies including the Pacific Cup itself for best corrected time over the 2070-mile course.

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