Well now, a lot has changed since my last posting from Hula Girl, out here in the mid-Pacific in the 2011 Transpac race from LA to Hawaii. After a string of days with light to moderate breezes, the real winds that make this race so famous have finally come out to play. We knew they were coming. We’ve been watching it for days now. So yesterday afternoon when the breeze slowly climbed from 10, to 14, to 17, to over 20 knots we shifted Hula Girl into high gear. All night was spent in 20-24 knots of breeze, tearing across a moon lit sea. And what a moon. It somehow seems bigger out here. Or maybe we feel so small. ‘Carbon’ was saying that at any given moment we can see about 600 square miles of ocean around us, and it’s pretty rare that we see anything at all taking up space out here. Only the march of squalls, each one with its own personality. We try to line them up, to flirt with the beautiful increase in wind along the font edge but not get caught in the light breezes and the vacuum behind them. Like a woman, observed one of our crew. Ok, clearly we have been out here too long.
Anyhow, last night was a wild an lumpy ride. We’d take off on prolonged surfs of the north swells at 15, 16, 17 knots, then go bouncing across the remnants of a southerly swell. I hear our top speed was close to 20 (Josh), but didn’t crack the barrier. I was below (but at 20 knots in this stuff, I can guarantee I wasn’t sleeping). We have a real race on our hands, so we kept up the big A2 spinnaker and I’m quite relieved (and a bit surprised) to say that she made it thru the night in great shape. She’s our MVP at the moment… the big White and Red and Blue chute that we hoisted last Sunday… yes, SUNDAY… and haven’t taken down yet. She’s done us right for some serious sea miles!
So the race: yep the Barn Door (fastest elapsed time) was claimed by Bella Mente early this morning, but most of us are still out here in quite the slugfest. In our class, we dropped a position that we had gained yesterday, but the whole fleet tightened up. While Horizon has maintained their best in fleet position and are proving extremely difficult to gain any more miles on, there are four boats in a very close race for places 2 through 5… at this point there is about 1.5 hours (corrected time) between all four boats! And that’s after a full week of non-stop ocean racing! And no one is rolling over. Two nights ago, we saw Allure (one of our fleet) about 12 miles off, south and east of us. Two days later, they are still down there… albeit a bit farther off and out of view, but we know they are still close…
So that’s where we are right now. This wraps up the week… our second Friday night at sea. And we all really need a weekend. Mark is lightly snoring atop a pile of sails here in cabin. Josh is dipping pretzel sticks in a spoonful of mustard (??). Tom K. is driving us at a steady 11 knots towards the west and hopefully a nice right shift to bring us to the islands sometime on Monday.
You all have a great weekend. We’ll keep you posted from our here.
All the best,
Wayne Zittel and the J World Team
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