• A Saturday Stampede

    A mad rush of boats rushed through the Molokai Strait Saturday including the entire
    SC 50-52 fleet if you include Oaxaca and Medusa which came in before sunrise Sunday.
    The 1st in group John Shultze's optimized 52' Horizon, which pulled a horizon job on an otherwise
    very competitive fleet that finished within hours of each other.

    all images © Lauren Easley

    In the mix was Hula Girl, which filed their final report below:

    Ok, we are on the home-stretch of the 2017 Transpac. We are aiming straight at Molokai about 10 miles out, with Oahu just in sight. It feels good. And boy it's been a tough couple days. Really shifty out here, with light breezes that require a lot of concentration to keep the boat moving... and moving in the right direction. We knew this was a fierce fleet from the outset. And it is panning out to be a hotly contested event.

    Horizon pulled out into a comfortable lead, but second thru fifth or sixth are completely up for grabs. We dropped to fifth in the position report a couple days ago, but reclaimed third yesterday and are hot on the heels of second place! Apparently Sin Duda and Prevail were racing within sight of each other most of the day Thursday, and crossed paths less than 100 yards apart after 2000 miles of ocean racing! It's more like a bouy race as the boats approach the finish. As I write this, Sin Duda, Previal, and Triumph are all in a tight pack just to the north of us (of course that was four hours ago since tracking information is delayed four hours for competitors), but it's too close to call right now. This morning's roll call has us in third still, but my calculations put us really really close to second. With the shifty conditions, our emotions oscillate with the rise and fall of our fortunes, but what has remained steady is the hard work everyone is putting in!

    We are definitely in the tropics now. We had lines of squalls pass by in the early morning hours the past couple of days, giving some wild wind shifts and dramatic starts to the days. Now it's sunny, hot, and beautiful out. Breeze is finally up a bit, around 18 knots, and the seas are very flat, but a bit confused. The nights have been stunning. A starry sky that defies description, with a late night moonrise that looked like a freight train's spotlight coming thru the clouds. And while the days are getting hot, the nights are perfect shorts-and-t-shirts sailing conditions.

    Life onboard is great... it's a really fun bunch of people and spirits are high. Everyone has showered... and a couple have even shaved. It was our last night at sea, so dinner was Cornish game hens with a port wine reduction, a potato galette, and roasted asparagus. This was paired with a 2017 Charles Shaw Chardonay. Desert was a Neapolitan gellato. Just kidding. We had freeze dried.

    So now, with the finish line more or less straight up ahead and Hula Girl in line for a happy-hour finish off Diamond Head, I want to thank all the folks who have helped pull this effort together. Coaches Patrick and Paul have been absolute rockstars. Thanks to Rick Shema for his world class weather routing info. Thanks to my parents for being shore support in Long Beach (and everywhere else). And thanks to my wonderful wife for all the support and letting me disappear every summer for weeks on end!

    And finally, of course a big thank you to the whole team for making this a special experience. When we start these things, we are essentially a bunch of strangers, albeit strangers with similar mindsets and one great aspiration: to race to Hawaii. For some aboard, it is the first time. For others, they are doing it again (take it from me, it can be addicting). But as the trip progresses, we see that the strangers become collaborators, shipmates, and friends. For us coaches, it is truly a gratifying experience to both bear witness to individuals realizing the dream of the Transpac and to see a disparate group work together towards a common goal, and in so doing become something quite different: a true racing team. So to the crew this year, awesome job cranking out a fantastic showing in one of the toughest fleets in one of the world's premier yacht races. Seriously impressive. And beyond the excellent performance, I had an absolutely fantastic time sailing with all of you.

    Ok, enough of this. I'm going to go sit in the cockpit and watch the green hills of Molokai slip by, then shoot across the channel, and start looking for the lovely, familiar Diamond Head profile that marks the finish line. Then I'm thinking a Mai Tai might taste pretty good. And if it does, I might just have to have a second one...

    Cheers all, and Aloha!

    Wayne Zittel and the Hulagains

    Meanwhile a bit further back, some additional Notes From Boats:

    "July 15, 2017, 1200

    Good morning to all our loyal readers!

    We are about 200 miles from the finish, at least as the crow (or more appropriately seagull) flies. We will have to sail a bit further than that, but are making good time and looking for a finish before noon tomorrow HST.

    Overnight, we had good winds and made good time and recovered some of the lost distance on our competitors, but it does seem that we will run out of race course before we can catch them.

    Yesterday, we were treated to a visit from the Flying Corzini. First, he checked out our main sail for wear, then checked out the lower spreaders for stability, and finally, went to the top of the mast for an inspection of all of the gear there. He also got some great video of the boat sailing from that view. After that, he was back to Sarasota Florida, where all circus acts go to retire!

    Yesterday was a long day of mediocre winds, fair, but not great boat speed and hot clear skies. Many of the crew fought the boredom by finding boat tasks to do. Dan chose yesterday to tape cords all over the nav station to make the communications equipment we have been using for the past 12 days more efficient (about damn time)! As we have been keeping a keen eye on our electrical consumption, Dean decided to determine the electrical draw on most of the components on the boat. This was done by switching each one off and then back on and recording the difference. This process was going well, until he switched our navigation system off and when it came back on, the electronic compass that the system (and especially the autopilot) uses for boat heading, did not come back on. This discovery was followed by a tap on my shoulder while I was napping and having a weird dream, and "Houston I think we have a problem". Good news is that the next few hours occupied two or three of us finding and trying to diagnose the problem. It appears that the compass chose the exact moment that Dean switched it off to die - what timing? Oh well, we have a work around until we get to Honolulu. All of this speaks to turning the lights off in a room when you leave it - just say’n!

    Looks to be another hot one today as the sky is clear and bright.

    This morning, when I came on watch at 02:00 PDT, the moon had not yet made it's appearance and it was breathtaking, seeing how many stars there were in the sky. The Milky Way was as clearly defined as if drawn on the sky with a Sharpie. When the moon came up about an hour later, almost 3/4 of the stars disappeared, as if shut off by Dean in his attempt to save power. Then, the clouds started rolling in and within another hour, you could hardly see a single star.

    One more night! Hopefully tonight will be as amazing as last night was. It would be a great way to finish this incredible journey!

    Again, thanks for all the support and for continuing to read my daily messages. I don't know that I will get one out until we are in the harbor in Honolulu.


    Aonde Omo


    Tropic Thunder Race Update

    July 16, 2017, 0030

    The 14th was fairly uneventful. The abysmal winds picked up to tolerable and progressed to decent. And then the sun set.

    A-Team came on watch at midnight. Gusty winds to the upper-mid 20's and unfavorable seas perpetuated an epic wipe out. Quote of the night, "Blow the vang! Blow the traveler! Blow everything!" At the end of the shift, things had settled and the kite went up for the next shift.

    During that early morning shift things got a bit sporty as Tropic Thunder experienced her first squalls of the race. The wind was in the mid- to upper 20's, not too bad until you add in the pitch black night and torrential downpour. Throughout the morning there were two more significant squalls. The last one brought winds in the low 30's. The planned and prepped letter box douse quickly became a kite retrieval as the guy shackle sheared off, causing the clew shackle to pop off. Due to great teamwork with Mat at helm, Lalo and Aaron on bow, and Inez and me in pit the kite was back on deck with zero damage. The remainder of the crew during all of this were below deck taking care of a few other issues such as the not properly functioning engine, head, and water maker.

    Things broken over the past 24 hours:

    Guy Shackle-down to one guy. McGyvered a spare spin sheet as dousing line and tweeker
    Boom Vang Sheet-replaced it using the broken guy sheet
    Aft Head-cleaned, cleared, functioning
    Engine Gasket Leak-not critical. Keep sailing
    Water Maker-Dead. We are using emergency rations for the last two days of racing
    Add to this list the freezer that gave up the ghost the day before, defrosting all remaining frozen dinners. No worries, plenty to eat.

    As the day wound down, the entire crew was on deck for pasta and social hour. Skipper broke out two bottles of beer, the only alcoholic beverages on the boat, and everyone shared a little in celebration.

    Brenda the Boat Blogger


    La Sirena Race Update

    July 15, 2017, 0200

    These are the days of miracles and wonder.

    The gods smiled upon us today -- but first they made us sweat. Light air and broiling heat vexed the boat throughout the afternoon. Steering was difficult in the fluky winds and occasional rogue swell. We made the best of it still, policing up the boat, stowing foul weather gear, cranking down hardware, and taking down-time in bunks. The occasional "This wasn't in the brochure," comment was made in reference to the much lighter than normal winds for this stage of the race. It would have been easy to get down. Sean and Carl decided to rig a swing instead.

    Utilizing a bosun's chair and some good old-fashioned American ingenuity, they rigged a sitting harness off the boom on the port side. Infectious laughter, ridiculously fun wave-skimming, and pure joy followed. The gods see these things. Signs were sent to the optimistic and fun-seeking crew. After six days of hopeless trolling on a makeshift handline, a Mahi Mahi took the hook. "Fish on!" rang out, and many hands rushed to battle stations to dispatch the beautiful 10 lb green and gold offering from the sea. Requisite clownish photos were taken and the grim work of filleting set to. Dinner plans were changed.

    As the skipper put his galley skills to use, a distinct freshening in the breeze was noted. Items began sliding off counters, the boat lurched in gusts, walking became difficult again. Life at sea was set to right. Before it got too rough, the crew feasted on 3 different incarnations of the divine fish as prepared by Chef "Tonimoto" (all apologies to Mr. Morimoto of Honolulu), and Owen Provence's yum-yum-beefy-cheesy mac. Shortly thereafter, the sun sizzled down into the sea in a blossom of orange and red as the crew rocked epic cuts from The Ventures.

    As of this writing, the wind is laying on NE at 25 knots and the boat is scooting along at 8-10 knots* on "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride," under ten million stars. THIS is what the brochure promises. This is Transpac. Book your passage soon, and make sure to render a suitable offer to Poseidon.

    Love from the rollicking high seas,

    The crew of La SIrena,
    23.42.113N/153.51.57W (less than 300 mi from Honolulu)


    Got ED? Deception Day 10

    July 14, 2017, 2000

    If you're watching the tracker, we're a slow sperm wiggling it's way to that wonderful tropical egg in the Pacific. Strong swimmer, not so sure. It looks like Horizon is fighting hard to inseminate themselves into the Ala Wai and claim the prize. The rest of us are out here fighting a slow death not knowing the battle has already been won.

    But the race isn't over until we cross the finish line. Even if we have to do it upside down or swim the documentation number across the line of the Diamond Head buoy.

    Don't get me wrong, this is not even close to a email admitting defeat. We have the boat we really wanted to get and there are still 36 hours left in this race and the race is still tight. If we can make up a small handful of hours on our competitors we can still move up far into the standings. We haven't given up one bit. we're actively trimming and drivers swap out every half an hour to 45 minutes to keep focus in this lighter air and relentless sun.

    Randall R is going to need some ice at the finish line. He had an accident with the tea kettle this morning and might appreciate a fresh ice pack... something we can't provide out here.

    Food hoarding, boat speed and mai tai's are hot topics among the crew. Randal L was accused of stashing the Tapatio hot sauce this morning. That will be worth more than gold if we have to switch to freeze dried. Oatmeal, Cholula, bread, chips, all forms of snacks and most tortilla's are gone. Bill tried to foist very old fermented pineapple that he dredged out of the bottom of one of the coolers on us for dinner. Tasted like it had turned to rum.

    Other than that, spinnakers up, spinnakers down. Squalls to the left of us, Squalls to the right, but we're stuck in the middle with none.

    Big D... Swimming home.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: 2017 Transpac: Go South Young Man started by Photoboy View original post