Brisk Winds, Fast Speeds for Pasha Hawaii Division (ORR D) Start
Point Richmond, CA, - Seasoned offshore racers know not to take too many risks at the start of a 2,000 nm race. So even though Thursday’s sustained winds were under 20 knots at the start, half the boats in Pasha Hawaii Division (ORR D) played it safe and reefed their mains before hitting the line. The conservative sail plan didn’t prevent a bit of drama: the Club Swan 42, Elusive, barged the line but was nudged outside the starboard mark by the Schumacher 46, Surprise, which crossed first, followed by the Santa Cruz 50s Chasch Mer and Oaxaca. Shortly after leaving the Bay the boats encountered lighter breeze, and the reefs were quickly shaken out of their sails. All the boats had made it past the Farallones well before dark and into the desired synoptic wind, reaching at speeds of 8 - 10 kts.
The 2016 Pac Cup is already shaping up to be a memorable year for Santa Cruz 50 fans, with fours boats sailing in the Pasha Hawaii Division -- a resurgence in the class for this race. They will be competing along with other smaller Bill Lee designed boats for the inaugural Bill Lee "Wizard" Perpetual Trophy. Chasch Mer, owned by Gib Black, was hull number one of Bill Lee’s Santa Cruz 50s. Built in Lee’s famous chicken coop, she was designed for downwind races to Hawaii, and sailed her first Transpac in 1979. While many skippers prefer to sail with established crew, Black, a veteran of two Pac Cups and numerous Transpacs, has put together a team of experienced sailors who are all first time Pac Cup racers. They’ve put the boat through its paces during several of the Bay area’s spring coastal races. "I was invited from my crew list posting to fill the navigator position on a historic boat, with # 1 hull," - says crew member Jack Everett. "Now I just want to meet Bill Lee."
Shana Bagley Howe and Mark Howe traded up this year to the Santa Cruz 50 Adrenalin after double handling their Farr 36 War Pony in the 2014 race. In addition to changing boats, the Howes have also changed marital status since the last race. "We were engaged shortly after the race. We decided that if our relationship could survive a double handed campaign and ocean crossing, it could survive anything." Shana has only been sailing for ten years, but that includes a trio of legs in the Clipper Round the World Race, a Transpac (on Pac Cup competitor Chasch Mer) and a Southern Ocean delivery. Shana said they selected their crew carefully, sailing with them before the race. "Preparing for ocean racing is not just about having a safe boat, it is about having safe and compatible crew. People change when they are offshore," - she says. "We are under incredible stress being sleep deprived, too hot/too cold, taking mal de mer medication, and physically and mentally challenged. Selecting a cohesive, properly kitted, and well-functioning team is invaluable, as is keeping an eye out for yourself and your crew while offshore."
Also trading up for the 2016 race is Michael Moradzadeh with the Santa Cruz 50 Oaxaca. The boat won the overall Pacific Cup in 1990, and division honors in 1994. This is the third boat and the eighth Pac Cup for Moradzadeh, who has tapped four-time Pac Cup division winner and 2002 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, Liz Baylis, as navigator. I am thrilled to be racing in our "fleet within a fleet" of Santa Cruz 50s," - says Moradzadeh. "When the boats are so similar, there are fewer ‘blame it on the rating/designer/weather’ excuses, and we each get a better feel for what our boats and crews can do." He stressed, though, that the competition is friendly. "As a side note, the owners and crew of this year's crop are simply a bunch of nice folks and all Corinthian (amateur) crews, which makes for a great experience all around."
Pac Cup virgins are the norm on the Santa Cruz 50, J World’s Hula Girl. Owned by veteran racer Wayne Zittel as part of his J World Performance Sailing School, Hula Girl competes in coastal and ocean races with three coaches and six clients who pay to crew. "While we have great backing by pro sailors, we really don't do that much aboard other than give coaching and instruction," - says Zittel. "The clients do the vast majority of the trimming, the grinding, and the driving." Zittel is most proud to be competing against former students. "It is fun to see how many of our alumni go on to do the race themselves. Last Pac Cup I think three of the skippers of other boats were past clients of ours, and this year, the skippers of Mirador and Avion both raced their first Hawaii race with J/World."
Vying to retain the Carl Schumacher Trophy is Bob Hinden, the skipper of Surprise. This will be his fourth Pac Cup, and the second aboard Surprise. Navigator Brent Draney is sailing his sixth Pac Cup, this time with his 15-year-old son Jeffery, who is one of this year’s youngest competitors. Other crew include Scott Owens, who has sailed in numerous Pacific races, including the 1998 Pac Cup on Surprise with the former owners. Hinden will be competing against his daughter Rebecca for the Carl Schumacher trophy. She’ll be racing on the Express 37 Elan, which took home the trophy in 2012.
Among the other boats in the Pasha Hawaii Division, the J/124, Albion, will be skippered by veteran international ocean racer Graham Ellis. In addition to two Fastnets, a Middle Sea Race and many English Channel races, he’s sailed the Chicago Mac Race 10 times. Among his crew is Bay Area pro sailor Ashley Perrin, who has more than 65,000 ocean miles of racing, including five Fastnets, two transatlantic crossings and three Pacific races.
The Pacific will be new waters for the Club Swan 42 Elusive, and it’s the first Pac Cup for Thomas Furlong, who purchased the boat last year from the East Coast. In addition to 40 plus years of SF Bay racing, he’s sailed mulitple Newport to Bermuda, Annapolis to Newport, and other East Coast coastal races.
Traveling from Portland, Oregon for his third Pac Cup, Scott Campbell will once again be skippering his J/46 Riva. In the 2010 race Riva won the award for best-prepared boat. This will be the first Pac Cup for half his crew.
New to the 2016 Pac Cup is the Melges 32, Rufless, but owner and pro-sailor Rufus Sjoberg has plenty of Pac Cup experience. The Melges isn’t generally viewed as an ocean racer, but Sjoberg has made some modifications. "Fortunately I run a boat repair shop locally and was able to go through the entire boat and trick it out with all the go-fast ocean goodies," - says Sjoberg. “We have done quite a bit of ocean racing in the boat but this will be its biggest crossing so far. The boat definitely presented its share of hurdles to overcome for ocean racing. Keeping the boat dry downstairs was a tough one. But after I built a custom carbon dodger and modified a couple other leaky areas the boat became dry as a bone downstairs. We're looking forward to a fun fast race to Hawaii."
Follow the Fleet
Keep track of the standings with the YBTracking on pacificcup.org or by downloading the app YB Races. Many of the boats will be posting to blogs during the race and you can find a list at pacificcup.org.
Photo: The Pasha Hawaii Division heads to Hawaii. All photos by official race photographer Leslie Richter / Rockskipper Photography. For additional images of Pacific Cup events and racing, visit www.rockskipper.com. For more information, please contact:
The Pacific Cup Yacht Club is responsible for organizing the biennial Pacific Cup, dubbed the "FUN race to Hawaii." Since 1980, the Pacific Cup has been sailed from San Francisco Bay to Hawaii every other year, and since 1988 the finish has been at the warm and welcoming Kaneohe Yacht Club on the island of Oahu. With an emphasis on pre-race preparation for the 2070-mile race, PCYC’s volunteer membership has helped to ensure that thousands of racers have been delighted with their Pacific Cup experience.
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About Richmond Yacht Club - Since 1932 RYC has been dedicated to serious sailing while at the same time having tremendous fun. The club's Point Richmond location and excellent harbor facilities make it easy to hold both small boat and big boat regattas, and RYC has a proud tradition of hosting world class championships as well as many regattas for Bay Area racers, junior and youth boaters, and its own members. A significant percentage of Pacific Cup competitors have always come from RYC, and RYC is pleased to be the Bay Area host yacht club of the 2016 Pacific Cup race.
For more information about RYC, visit www.richmondyc.org.