HONOLULU, HI - As the first wave of record-breaking boats have finished, there is a break in the action at race HQ in the Ala Wai Marina before the second wave is soon to arrive in the 2017 Transpac.
Among the front-runners it looks as though Manouch Moshayedi's Rio 100's hold on the Barn Door Trophy for being the first-to-finish monohull sailing without powered assistance in the sailing systems is fairly secure: at 1400 HST was 170 miles out going 15 knots. Assisted by a left shift in the breeze and being on port tack, she is close to being at her normal speeds and is outpacing Frank Slootman's Pac 52 Invisible Hand who was closing on her the last couple of days but is now 100 miles astern. At current speeds she is expected at Diamond Head after midnight tonight, with Hand expected about 8 hours later.
Next in line is the other new Pac 52, Tom Holthus's Bad Pak at 325 miles out, and then the remainder of the fleet will start coming in fast succession throughout the end of this week.
As the bulk of the fleet progresses west and south into the tradewinds, the weather gets warmer, layers of clothes get removed and the boats get flatter, giving teams more comfort to hit their keyboards and express themselves with their creativity. In the last couple days more and more teams are sending to Transpac YC race HQ their stories in words, photos and even videos.
Some are detailed accounts of overcoming adversity, such as this story from Rio 100:
At 0015 Sunday July 9th we struck an unseen submerged object at a speed of 18-20 knots. We believe that it first struck the keel, then ran along the portside, until it struck the port rudder. The ensuing impact completely snapped the rudder just below the upper bearing. The rest of the stock and the rudder were now free to swing about, destroying the lower bearing and threatening to tear a hole in the boat. Since we were on starboard tack, copious amounts of water were pouring into the boat.
Luckily for us, we have a very experienced crew who have all been with the boat since its christening, plus we have onboard multiple Volvo veterans, Chris Nicholson, Justin Ferris, Bouwe Bekking, Will Oaxley, and our own ace craftsman and Magyver, Jeff Messano onboard who came up with a plan.
Jeff quickly went to work rounding up parts to cover the hole, while the others came up with a way to secure the patch. But first we had to get the rudder out of the boat, which meant keeping the boat as slow as possible, which in turn meant the boat was flat and water would flood the compartment. When all preparations were complete, everyone except for Jeff left the compartment. The plan was to push the broken rudder out of the of the boat, stuff a sleeping bag in the hole to stop the water until we could pick up speed, heel the boat, and make our repairs.
Please wish us good luck for the remaining 500 miles or so that we have to go.
Fortunately, more stories are lighthearted and focus on life on board a yacht at sea 1000 miles from land, such as this from Stephen Ashley's Beneteau 40.7 Onde Amo:
Well, we are in the tradewinds that will carry us to Hawaii. From the latest reports, it looks like the winds will be consistent from here to the finish, with maybe a build in the winds and seas as we come down the Molokai Channel to the finish off Diamond Head.
Like the night before, we switched to a heavier spinnaker for the overnight to save the A2 for the daylight sailing and hopefully, the finish. We switched back to the A2 this morning right after daybreak. The hours are really starting to get weird as we stay on PDT and continue to head west. Sunset now comes after 22:00 and daybreak doesn't come until after 08:00.
Early this morning, we had a couple of interesting events. First, a boat, which we think was Buona Sera, passed us within about 5 boat lengths. A bit close in rolling seas with light winds, which makes the boat hard to control. Oh well, we didn't have an incident, but would have preferred more room. Of course, he was the leeward boat, so he had right-of-way. We had a bird following us for a couple of hours early this morning and doing a kind of flyby, like he was looking for food. After I went off watch at 05:00, a flying fish landed in the cockpit. Dave was concerned that the bird might try to land, so he came up with the idea of lighting the bird up with his headlamp to scare it off. Unfortunately, he lit Jim's left eye up at close range with the brightest white light his headlamp could offer. After examination, we think the burns to his retina will heal in the next few weeks. Brilliant!
Looks to be another hot, clear day. Yesterday, we started with overcast like every other morning before that and then it cleared up and got hot. Trying to nap down below was difficult, so there was a dog pile of three or four off-watch bodies trying to sleep on the pile of spare spinnakers in the "Debbie Bag". Quite the sight!
We have named most of the spinnakers as follows: A1 - "Clifford" as it is solid red A2 - "Good and Plenty" as it is pink, grey and black .5 oz - "Casper" as it is solid white .5 oz - "Islands" as it has the logo of the previous owners but looks like an island chain sewn on it .75 oz - "Patches" as it has been repaired several times 1.0 oz - unnamed at this time, please feel free to forward any suggestions 1.5 oz - "Thor" because it is powerful and very tough
We found a stowaway night before last. It was pretty lumpy and the boat was bouncing around quite a bit. In the middle of it, my iPad comes to life and Siri starts asking if she can help in some way. I was able to convince her that we had it under control, primarily by the use of the on/off button on the iPad. We found it pretty hilarious, but it may be that we are getting pretty delirious!
And from Wayne Zittel on the modified SC 50 J/Worlds Hula Girl, we had this story of life aboard as the sun came out and life got better:
Yesterday we dried out some of the sails and jibs used earlier in the race, refolded them and packed them down below. We had some nice sunshine and beautiful sailing, and it looks like more of the same on tap for today. Most of the crew took showers (woo-hoo!). Last night we had chef's select sashimi grade Ahi, lightly seared, crusted with sesame seeds and prepared with a dijon mustard laced ponzu sauce. The fish was served with garden greens tossed in a raspberry vinaigrette, and paired with a crisp dry Napa Chardonay. Just kidding. We had freeze dried.
Early this morning we had our first tropical squall. It was a pretty weak one, but brought a little bit of rain. Nice. We saw a cruise ship a couple days ago, a few birds, a good number of flying fish, and sadly more trash. Other than that, we could be led to believe that we are pretty much alone out here. But we know that there are a whole lot of boats racing, and we will probably start to bunch up in the bottleneck towards the finish, so maybe we'll see more of our fleet in the next couple days.
In corrected time standings there has been one change since yesterday on the leaderboard: Karl Otto Book's Wasa 44 Cubaneren - the only entry from Norway in the history of this race - has taken the lead in Division 7. But this will probably be shortlived: Rodney Pimentel's Cal 40 Azure was leading the class when Jay Spaulding's SC 52 Medusa called for help, saying their fuel had been contaminated with water and they were out of power. The two boats converged mid-sea and despite 18 knots of wind and large swells managed to transfer 5 gallons of diesel from Azure to Medusa in a managerie of containers without incident. For this Azure will likely be given time credit by the jury for giving assistance to another vessel in distress.