Time to get you all report number one from J World’s Hula Girl in the 2016 Pacific Cup! We just started day three of our 2016 Pacific Cup, and things are starting to settle in. The world is leveling off, and (dare we even think it?) drying off.
We started in the typical freshening SF breeze last Thursday. With a #4 jib and a reefed main, we had a nice start and were in top pack as we sailed out under the Golden Gate. Once clear of the ‘wind machine’ funnel which is the mouth of SF Bay, the breeze started to lighten and we shook our reef and eventually changed to our #3 jib. Then land faded into overcast distance and our small sleet of racers were all there was. We watched the outlines of our competitors into the early evening, then lost them too and we were alone.
The breeze and waves were, however, our constant companions. I’m not sure it has dipped under 20 knots yet this race. So for the first 36 hours, it was hard on tight reaching. That means a loud boat as she launches off waves. That means a wet boat, as she lands back in the sea hurling wall of water in the wind, which in turn hurls it at the crew.
On day two we reefed the main again, and went up with the blast reacher. Perfect combo, and proved to be fast and controllable. And while the entire crew was wet, and cold, and uncomfortable, our soggy spirits were lifted to see that we were in second place! So suddenly it is all worth it… and the good stuff should be coming any time now…
The good stuff happens when you cross ridge and into the SE corner of the semi-permanent Pacific High pressure system which lives in the northern Pacific. This shift the breeze (and the swells) around behind the boat, and, well, away we go. It’s what makes this race so famous and popular. Well, I’m happy to say that this morning, just after roll call, we shook the reef and set our 4A spinnaker (heavy runner) in some 26 knots of breeze. We are instantly surfing in the 15 knot range and it is trial by fire for the fresh crew aboard Hula Girl!
So more positive news: after the kite went up we got the morning position reports and were gratified to learn that we had taken over first place! It’s really early in a very, very long race, but feels good to be in the hunt. The breeze is still blowing strong, and it is forecast to be a windy trip over. It’s already been a fast one… we covered 500 miles in the first 48 hours. So now to just keep the wheels on the wagon, so to speak!
Life onboard is good… crew is happy that the slamming of the upwind leg is gone. The boat is level, and much more comfortable. It’s still cloudy, but we hope to punch out into some sweet Pacific sunshine before too long.
Ok, that’s it for now… more soon…
Team Hula Girl
Click HERE for a link to a great photo of the ol’ Girl and her crew at the start!