Mag 80 leads the charge
There’s still a long way to go with the Doldrums yet an obstacle, but a strong launch off the foggy California coast puts Mag 80 in position out of the starting blocks to beat the record of 14 days 21 hours 15 minutes 26 seconds set by the late Fred Kirschner’s Santa Cruz 70, Kathmandu, in the most recent Tahiti Race in 1994.
Navigator Ernie Richau reported by e-mail: “We had another fantastic sail leaving So Cal! Although there was a bit of fog at the start, it soon cleared. We passed the west end of Catalina going upwind with the # 2 jib about 4 p.m. By 11 p.m. we had the # 4 jib up, the sky was clear and we were heading south at 16-17 knots. As the sun came up this a.m. we put up our first kite, the 3A. We are now reaching at about 19 knots and still heading south. By the afternoon we expect to be running with a full-size spinnaker and heading a little more toward the southwest.”
All four boats were still east of the rhumb line running downwind in northwest breeze, as yet uncommitted to lifting west across the line and long before gybing south toward the equator.
Bob Lane’s Andrews 63 Medicine Man was closest behind Mag 80, followed by Chris Welsh’s Ragtime, a Spencer 65, and Jim Morgan’s Fortaleza, a Santa Cruz 50. At report time, the 41-year-old but recently upgraded Ragtime was within reach of Medicine Man and projected second overall only to Mag 80 in handicap time.
Mike Priest, navigator on Medicine Man, e-mailed Sunday evening after the Andrews 63 had stolen the start in light wind and poor visibility: “Thanks for great foggy start ... cleared almost instantly about 40 minutes later with great photo of fog bank against PV, looking like Sausalito! We could actually see Catalina before we saw Mag 80 abeam.
“We came out of fog just above and ahead of Mag 80, a nice surprise for us. They remedied that quickly, and the parade begins. We rounded west end [of Catalina] just before 1600 hrs. about 2-plus miles behind Mag 80 and about same ahead of Ragtime. We did not see Fortaleza, last seen when we were mid-channel, hanging in above and behind Rags. We are sailing nicely with wind forward of beam in not quite 15 knots of breeze. You all probably know more than we do if the [Flagship] tracker is working!”
Tahiti Race 2008 standings
(boat for boat at 6 a.m. PDT Monday)
1. Magnitude 80 (Andrews 80), Doug Baker, Long Beach, 234 miles daily run/3,319 nautical miles to go.
2. Medicine Man (Andrews 63), Bob Lane, Long Beach, 192/3,361.
3. Ragtime (Spencer 65), Chris Welsh, Newport Beach, 174/3,382.
4. Fortaleza (Santa Cruz 50), Jim Morgan, Long Beach, 146/3,408.