• Vic-Maui July 5th Updates


    The low that boats ran into around Roll Call yesterday has mostly moved to the east and strong northerly winds have filled in its wake. What better way to celebrate the 4th of July than to see all boats moving quickly again. But the sustained winds of 20 kts or better is starting to take its toll on gear - Kraken reported an accidental gybe that blew their traveller apart. And taking its toll on people as even the seasoned veterans were calling last night “challenging”. At Roll Call today, the fleet was generally about 400 miles west of Florence, on the Oregon coast still more or less pointing straight towards Maui. And going fast.

    The light airs and challenges after the low passed last night compressed the fleet together. In Racing 1, Firefly and Joy Ride split apart last night but are now approaching each other; both sailing over 9 kts. While 45 miles apart on the race course, Firefly’s lead (measured in distance to finish) has shrunk to less than 10 miles – pretty much a dead heat.

    Racing 2 has also compressed with Salient, Turnagain and Kraken all more of less the same distance to Hawaii. Oxomoxo is about 35 miles back, but because of their time allowance, they are still very much in the mix. Anjo got caught being a little too far to the east, but have now moved back to the west where better winds are and making up ground quickly.

    In Cruising Class, Serenite used the rules on running their engine in gear to good use during the lighter winds and are now only 25 miles behind Anjo as both move into stronger winds. The girls on Gemini’s Dream are now in the lighter winds that the others have moved out of. They report the easing came as a relief – but it looks like the relief will be short.

    And the first fish was reported today on Oxomoxo with a tuna going straight from the line to the fry pan leaving a bloody mess on the deck. Kraken had company with a couple of Humpbacks for a while – that must be good luck after several gear failures. But Joy Ride had company with a Minke, a Humpback, and porpoises - perhaps even better luck.

    Now the fleet is onto the next challenge – better described in today’s Weather Eye. How are the boats all going to manage crossing the “plateau” and be first into the trade winds. At least it looks like Hurricane Fabio will not be an issue as the National Hurricane Centre is reporting it is already weakening and will be a remnant low by Sunday, well ahead of the fleet


    Day 4 – July 4th
    44 deg 06.1 ’N 135 deg 19.9 ’W

    The last couple days have been challenging.
    After light winds for a few hours yesterday, the wind steadily picked up. We went through half our sail inventory starting out with the wind seeker mid day, then an asymmetrical spinnaker, and then to our symmetrical light wind spinnaker only to have to gear down again a few hours later. With winds around 30 kts and gusts to 36 kts we had our hands full through the night. It was raining non-stop and everything was soaked. Nothing like getting up at 2 am, to get into soggy pants to stand a four-hour watch in near gale winds with pouring rain. On a brighter note the bioluminescence was amazing. For a moment on the fore deck (working on yet another reef) I watched the water flying over the bow. As it ran aft, it turned the deck into a sparkling firmament making it look like a star lite sky. The night was black and the only other thing we could see was the white caps illuminated by our navigation lights. The white caps performed a wild dance as the waves caught up with Salient, lifting her stern up and let her surf down the back side into the trough. Mesmerizing. Today the winds eased a bit and we flew Black Magic, our heavy weather spinnaker. The wind blew around 25- 30 kts and the Salient was a handful to keep under control. Driving was hard and required 100% focus. We were doing 10 kts and more most of the time with the top speed at 18.9 kts surfing down a particularly large wave. We thought about gearing down but it was not until we had a complete wipe out followed by a full 360 pirouette including an accidental gybe that we got off our adrenaline high and reduced sail.
    Today's dinner were Chilean Empanadas with Chipotle hot sauce – fantastic!
    Until tomorrow – Salient out.


    July 4, 2018 - Happy Independence Day

    The Weather Eye, July 4 – One, Two, Three Big Things to Think About
    by David Sutcliffe, July 4th, 2018

    This is not a textbook year! The weather situation for this Vic-Maui is developing into a true ocean racer’s challenge, where seemingly small decisions and a few miles one way or the other early in the race could make for big gains and losses. That doesn’t mean it’s all on the navigators, who do have their work seriously cut out for them, as it’s also on the whole team who will have to sail the boat very well and work hard with sail changes, trim and transitions to get ahead or stay ahead.

    Wednesday & Thursday, the near term weather is all about getting past the Low which is currently (0900 PDT) centered about 42N 133W.

    All of the boats appear to be going over the Low, varying distances West of the rhumb line.
    There is a squeeze zone with strong winds, possibly to gale force, predicted. Careful!

    Leaders Firefly and Joy Ride appear to be splitting this morning, with Firefly making a move further West and Joy Ride staying the course. With over twenty miles of lateral separation, and the passage of the Low to be threaded, the risk/reward is likely to be significant for both boats. If one does a better job of passing the Low, they could stretch that into a very significant lead for the next stage of the race.
    Turnagain has made big gains overnight and is closing in on Joy Ride, while Salient and Kraken (chasing Firefly) have opened up a lead on Anjo who has sailed more miles. OxoMoxo is angling out towards the others.
    The Low may drift North, back across the fleet’s track, potentially catching the tail-runners Serenite and Geminis Dream in lighter, variable winds. Sailing fast, now, is especially important for these boats.

    Thursday & Friday, after navigating the Low, the teams will move on to sailing around the High and setting up for crossing the ridge which typically extends to the SE from the center of the High. The models show a significant “plateau” developing on that ridge, and winds would typically be much lighter in such a feature. Once again, teams will have to evaluate the risk/return on miles sailed vs. wind speed/angle, and decide where to go to avoid the plateau and to stay in good breeze. Having parked on a similar plateau (making just 65 miles in 24 hours) in 2006, and had boats pass us on both sides (ouch!), I am going to watch this potential trap with great interest.

    By Saturday, the fleet should still be sailing around the High which should be centered about 40N 165W. It is predicted to continue to be strong at about 1036mb. One strategy could be to sail an isobar contour line around the high, say at about 1026-1028mb, to stay away from the center, sail in good pressure, and be closer to the rhumb line. All the while not getting stuck on any “flat” spots. Lead boats should be looking ahead to curve around the bottom right hand shoulder of the high and set up for calling the port gybe lay line to Maui. Calling a layline from 800-1000nm out!

    Beyond the above One-Two-Three, the trade winds ahead are looking good. Champagne sailing ahead! Off to the Southeast, there is some tropical system activity to keep an eye on, with TS Emilia reportedly dissipated and TS/Hurricane Fabio forecast to peak and then dissipate without significantly affecting the Vic-Maui fleet’s probable track to Hawaii. One eye to weather!

    Going out on the proverbial limb, I’d say the first finishers could arrive in Maui on July 12 or 13. Or not. Time will tell.

    Caveat: this article and images are presented for informational purposes – they are not predictions of or advice to any boat regarding weather or routing!
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Vic-Maui 2018 started by Photoboy View original post