Hula Girl Hawaii to California Cruise Reports

We are getting regular updates from the crew Hula Girl on our annual Hawaii to California offshore cruise.  

Tuesday, July 29

Hula Girl is humming along today. Averaging 10 KT of wind and about 6 KT boat speed throughout the day. Mellow seas and a happy crew. We played with reefing today and did a few man over boards just to make sure we don’t lose Jasper along the way.  We also took a brief detour to chase a flock of birds that were fishing – we have two most excellent hand lines in the water – one squid and one minnow and we are hoping for a tuna sooner rather than later. Just after dropping our lines we were checked out by a shark cruising by – pretty cool! Also lot’s of algal blooms that are accumulating and drifting with the current. We used a make-shift plankton net to collect some and check it out. Waters are pretty much teaming with life around here! 

Hula Girl, Mid Pacific (photos from previous HI-CA trips)

Chris wins best dinner (as of yet) award – North African couscous! I win an award for not puking today and finally having my sea legs. Jasper wins sleeping on the job award. And well Anne is keeping us all in line and that deserves an award!

Other than that we are at 24 50.186 by 156 05.543 and we are in touch with the rest of the group. We will figure out why the autopilot hates us….

Signing off for now…

p.s., Where the *&^%^ is the peanut butter!?!?

Wednesday, July 30

Sparky here again. Today was a good day at sea. Again we had mellow seas, 8-10 KT winds and averaged about 6 KT boat speed. My sea legs left me again but they are on their way back… The peanut butter saved us all – thanks for that! 

Good Food = Happy Crew (photos from previous HI-CA trips)

The big news of the day was the lovely 10 lbs Mahi Mahi that we caught. The menu included a tuna tartar (with red onions, soy sauce, chili flakes and capers) followed by tuna fillets fried with garlic and olive oil accompanied by a Greek slaw with feta cheese, black olives, and fresh tomatoes. Today was a great food day!  We will dump the minnow lure and do all squid. We are aiming for a blue fin. 

Boat wise Hula Girl is doing well and the autopilot likes us again. It seems we will be trying to tuck under the Pacific High – so far the plan looks as though it may work. Jasper is still on board and there are no mutinies to report! Hope all is well at home base!

Our location is 26 57.780 N 154 30.145 W – crew spirits are high – all stomachs are full!

Rock on,

Pacific Cup Pictures


Inside 100!

So as I write this on Saturday afternoon, we are inside the 100 mile check in point, about 75 miles from the finish line in Kaneohe Bay on the north side of Oahu, to be precise.  We should finish tonight, or – more specifically – early tomorrow morning,  having made the crossing from San Francisco to Hawaii in the 2014 Pacific Cup in about nine and a half days. Average speed over the 2070 mile course would be a bit over nine knots.  We are the third boat to Hawaii in our class (maybe the seventh or eighth boat overall), however (because of rating differences) a number of boats will ‘correct’ out in front of us, so we’ll likely be 6th in class, and about 12th overall.Those are the stats.  What they don’t show, of course, is the human side of the experience.  As the Hawaiian Islands come into range on the distant horizon and Hula Girl charges along in the late afternoon sun, a whole range of emotions begin to take hold.  And when you cross that finish line, pull into the dock and step ashore after having traversed the Eastern Pacific Ocean, you can at once feel gratified, relieved, excited, exhausted. You have accomplished no small feat, and, most importantly, YOU have accomplished the feat.  This wasn’t any cruise ship.  No one just took you for a sailboat ride. In the past 10 days, each of our team was on watch a total of 12 hours per day, and drove about 4 hours per day.  That means that over the course of the race, each driver drove for the equivalent of a 40 hour work week!

And I can tell you the level of improvement has been just fantastic.  At the start of the race, for plotting and routing purposes, I generally assume we’ll be going about 85% of our target boatspeeds.  I’ll modify this a bit one way of the other depending on a variety of things (experience of the crew, race conditions, etc.) but we were pretty close to that number.  By the time we got to the halfway point, I was using 90%.  The next day I bumped it up to 95%.  That’s pretty impressive.  I can’t really tell you how fun it is to see a team go from just ‘hanging in there’ sailing the boat (and sometimes not even able to do that in the darkness of night and shifty conditions) to full-on efficiency across the whole spectrum, day, night, squalls, and tradewinds.  And, of course, it’s not just driving…  the trimming, the crew work, the understanding of the relationships between all the positions, etc. etc. just became stronger and stronger. and contributed to our increased efficiency day after day….

One of our team mentioned that it’s really like having four coaches aboard:  not only are there three ‘regular’ coaches, but the group has been pro-active at working together, fostering a real sense of unified purpose and experience, and sharing with each other to improve as a whole.  I’ll admit, I might have been premature in calling a group of diversified sailors who had never stepped on a boat together before a ‘team’, but that designation is certainly justified now.  I’m proud of all of them.  Marko, Joe, and Alix came aboard with extremely limited exposure to sailing, and I couldn’t be more impressed with how they have progressed. Dale, Mike and Jimmy all brought more experience aboard and all rose to a high standard.  And, beyond them all just doing great, we had a fantastic time.  I have to say it was an extreme pleasure to sail with each and every one of them, for the first time or again.

So good on you all, team.  We were up against probably one of the toughest fleets I have ever raced to Hawaii against.  Each and every boat in our fleet was immaculately prepared, and the crew rosters read like a who’s who of West Coast offshore racing.  This is the real McCoy, a true grand-prix offshore racing event.  The fact that our young team could even think of competing against these guys was cool.  The fact that we were able to be competitive against them was awesome.

An finally, a huge thank you to coaches Geoff and Jasper.  These guys did a great job.  It’s no small feat to pull together a new crew and head off on a serious adventure like this, and the lion’s share of the credit goes to the great oversight and instruction provided by these two.  I know I consider myself fortunate to have had them both aboard.  Thanks tremendously, guys.

Now I’m going to head out into the cockpit for the final evening and enjoy the warm weather, the trade winds, the good company.  I’m looking forward to getting to Hawaii, to be sure, but I am just as excited about the next couple hours.  Although I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that a Mai Tai is sounding really, really good about now…

Have a good watch, friends.  And we’ll try to post some pictures in the next couple days.

Wayne Zittel and the Hulagins

Life in the Tradewinds – Hawaii, here we come!

Well the past couple days have been perfect ‘chamber of commerce’
sailing conditions out here. But, of course, the deep Pacific lacks
any semblance of a marketing department (and the hotels are few and
far between). So here we are, just over a week into the 2014 Pacific
Cup and we are ripping along, on port gybe finally, heading, more or
less, straight for Oahu.

The last couple nights have been, shall we say, ‘sporty.’ There is a
big ol’ moon out here, but it gets eclipsed by cloud cover and squalls
pretty regularly so it gets dark dark, with the brightest things
around being the fiery phosphorescence in the water. Then the moon
will punch thru, reflecting on the water like a silvery shimmering
blanket. After sunset, the breeze kicks up a couple clicks from the
normal 18-20 knots…. until a squall comes thru, then all bets are
off. Top breeze we saw last night was a short spike to 34. And Hula
Girl has been just lighting it up. The B&G instruments have been a
bit ‘wonky’ so we have taken to tracking top speeds on GPS which
doesn’t show the quick spikes but gives a good and accurate
representation of steady speeds. Until ‘Mr. Geoff’s Wild Ride’ in the
aforementioned puff, Alix held the speed record of 17.7. But with the
extra horsepower, coach Geoff showed us how it’s done and raised the
bar to 18.8. So Alix still leads the Amateur division, and Geoff is
holding onto the newly formed Pro division. I’m sure our momentary
speeds were well above those numbers and into the 20s, but regardless,
Hula Girl (and everyone on board) is having a hoot.

We were sorry to hear at roll call this morning that Tiburon, the
SC37, had lost their rudder sometime yesterday. Apparently the
Passport 40 Cayenne was on scene with them and passing them extra
water and supplies for what will become much longer trip to the
Islands. I’m sure they were tearing it up in the breeze, and we are
sorry to hear of the problem but glad everyone aboard is safe.

We had a brief moment of excitement earlier today when the steering
wheel almost came off. It must have loosened up over the past 1500
miles and slipped just enough to let the key slide in the hub, so
turning the wheel did not really turn the boat. Uh oh. Hula Girl
rounded up in a civilized fashion and I, having identified the problem

Carbonautica wheel in it’s “attached” state!

right away, ran below to grab the socket set.

I have to say that when I got on deck, pulled the wheel off and handed it to Jimmy saying  “Here! Hold this. And don’t drop it!” his look was priceless. Wheel  was re tightened momentarily, and we were on our way again shortly. The socket is now living in the sheetbag near the wheel until we can get some loctite on that nut (the wheel, not Jimmy).

* The staff of J World and crew of Hula Girl would like to apologize for the immediately preceding pun. It was obvious and gratuitous, and we are sorry to everyone…. except instructor Andrew in San Diego.

This is what you get.

Mai Tais await! (as demonstrated by our 2010 Team)

Jimmy started trouble in the cockpit, again. You think I’d be used to it by now. Yesterday it was “Let’s do the Tahiti Race on Hula Girl!” then today it was “So what food do you miss the most?” There ensued a discussion as to all the fine things we are looking forward to in Hawaii. Then a truly inspired lunch. Alas, no ice cream!

Geoff is on watch with Marko driving at the moment. Mike trimming, Alix grinding. Dale is off watch but still out in the cockpit chatting.
Haven’t seen Jasper in a while. I assume he’s sleeping, again. He
stayed up nearly all night last night, carrying on and partying away,
then thinks he can just lie around snoozing all day. Some people!

We passed close by a glass fishing ball yesterday. Alas, in race mode
there was nothing we could do except scoot by, leaving it to continue
it’s lonely and long voyage….

That’s what I got for now. 561 miles to go. Averaging about 11.5
knots. With a bit of luck, we’ll be in Saturday night. Supposed to
get a bit lighter for a stretch the next couple days, but our breeze
has been higher than forecast recently, so we’ll just have to wait and

Anyway, more soon…

Wayne Zittel and the Hula Girl Team


Well all right now. It’s straight up midnight, and it looks it.
Pitch black at the moment, even though we know there is a nearly full
moon up there, somewhere. Just a couple hours ago, we passed the
halfway mark in the 2014 Pacific Cup. At this point, we are farther
from dry land than you can get anywhere else on the place of the
planet. California is over 1000 miles away on one side, and Hawaii
more than 1000 miles on the other. North and south of us there is a
whole lot of nothing for a long ways. But calling this ‘nothing’ out
here would be a true error. True, we are but a spec in the ocean, but
the ocean is a great thing and (for the moment) our playground.

The breeze came up again around sunset, as it did last night. We were
a little better prepared for it this time, and shifted down to the
heavier 4A spinnaker (last night we had the big/lighter 2A up the
whole time, which caused yours truly undue stress). Shifting down was
definitely the right call. We are seeing sustained 20-25 knots, and
the lovely Hula Girl is in her element, scooting along at steady 12-14
knots. The driving right now is difficult, to be sure. But our team
has been getting great practice in the past couple of days and I’m
really pleased with how everyone is doing!

Our fall from 2nd to 6th in the standings two days ago was a bit
disappointing, and after a great run yesterday we were sorry to see we
hadn’t picked up anyone by roll call this morning, but by our
calculations we have narrowed the margin a good ways and we think that
we are in a great lane to make some good moves. We don’t think the
boats way south of us will get good angles into the islands (plus, it
could get a bit lighter down there). We think the boat north of us
have gotten more lift earlier on our way out towards the layline to
Hawaii. So we are pretty happy where we are. The light planing boats
are, as expected, untouchable in this stuff, so we are targeting a
respectable finish amongst the displacement members of our fleet. Now
we just have to sail like rockstars!

Everyone has been behaving wonderfully. Now, with the boat flatter,
we did a bit of house-cleaning today. Most of the crew have enjoyed
showers in the cockpit, and things are remarkably civilized! It’s
pretty warm now too… hot in the sun during the days, and welcomely
cool at night.

The crew also wants to thank Sue for the phenomenal batch of
cookies… I’m not sure what we did to deserve being recipients of
her baked specialties (not only for the Pac Cup, but earlier in the
year we received cookies and milk just before the SD to PV Race!), but
boy we are are highly appreciative! Especially me, as I have taken
to using the treats as rewards to keep instructors inline. Especially
that Jasper character… he has taken to making things up, just for
attention, I think, I mean dolphins sleeping with one eye closed and
half a brain?? Really Jasper, where do you get this stuff?!? I
think he was in the sun too long today. But seriously Sue, thank you
from all of us. Please let us know your shirt size so we can send you
a Hula Girl team shirt!

That’s it from me for now. I’m going to go on deck to get some cool
fresh air and take Hula Girl for a spin. Enjoy your feather beds
tonight, friends, It’s a bit more ‘sporty’ out here tonight, and
that’s working well for me at the moment!

All the best,

Wayne Zittel and the J World Team


Monday morning commute was pretty nice this morning.  Traffic was, for the most part, non existent out here.  Life on board is good.  Jimmy is on his iPad, making sure I really know where I am going.  Dale just took a shower and is napping, and coach Jasper is zonked out in one of the pipe cots.  Mike just woke up and is getting ready to go on watch (he’s grazing for snacks in the galley as I write this).  The sailing team on deck at the moment is coach Geoff, with Marko trimming spinnaker, Joe grinding, and Alix at the wheel….  and they are doing awesome.

“stock photo,” actual Hulagans may vary…

Just about a week ago, this team had never sailed together.  Now, here we are, almost 800 miles off the coast of North America competing in the great Pacific Cup race from San Francisco to Hawaii.  And it’s pretty sweet.

We are well underway in shaking off the concerns involved with ‘everyday’ shoreside life.  So many of the things and stresses that seemed so important a week ago aren’t so pressing anymore.  They aren’t completely gone, to be sure, but the perspective is different.  It’s kind of like having the vague feeling that somewhere I have frequent flyer miles which are about to expire, but I don’t really care.  I’m more concerned with nautical miles , at the moment.  And we know the world rolls on without our immediate participation or attention, and it’s kind of nice forgetting about it, even if only for a bit.  The World Cup, for example:  forgot it was even going on.  Wouldn’t know a thing about the outcome had we not overheard Caro, the beautiful Botin 65, chatting on the radio with one of our competitors, Hana Ho (Caro is a German boat, and was celebrating the result).  And partisan politics, misbehaving starlets, self-driving cars, and the close of the markets today really don’t mean much to us at the moment.  And it’s pretty nice.

Well, after the first couple days, the breeze remained unstable.  We had big variations in speed and direction which meant our team had to work extra hard to keep the boat moving.  The wind also remained more northerly than forecast, so we spent a good amount of time reaching straight for Hawaii.  We thought the wind was working around to the east (as expected) and changed to a flat reaching spinnaker for part of the day yesterday, but it didn’t really happen so in the afternoon we changed back from the 3A to the Code 0.  Early this morning, the shift had come in to stay, so shortly after sunup we hoisted the big 2A spinnaker and are pointed pretty much at the islands for now.  The breeze is up to 16-18 knots with occasional gusts to 20 and there is a small but building swell making for some good surfing conditions.  The smaller lighter boats in our fleet (especially the J125s Hamachi and Reinrag2, but also the SC37 Tiburon) are going to be virtually untouchable in this stuff, but we’ll keep the hammer down and see if we can’t take a bite out of a couple of them.

Saturday night out here was stunning.  The full moon peaked out of the clouds for a while, and lit up an ocean full of jumping dolphin.  Absolutely breathtaking.  Today is overcast, but actually nice…  it’s plenty warm (most of the foulies are getting stored away at this point), and a break from the tropical sun is nice (we’ll have enough of the shortly).

So that’s about it for now.  Everyone have a great night, think good thought for those of us out here in the deep blue, and we’ll see you when the big ‘ol sun comes ’round again!

Wayne Zittel and the Hula Girl Team

Exit Strategy…

Well, sometimes the wind does what it is forecast to do, and other
times it doesn’t. And sometimes it doesn’t at first, and then later
does. And sometimes it doesn’t at all, unless you are looking at a
different forecast, then it pretty much does until later when it
doesn’t at all. You get the picture. Sometimes the breeze can be as
fickle as, well, the wind. And so it has been for many of the racers
out here in the 2014 Pacific Cup thus far. With our start aboard J
World’s Hula Girl not until Thursday (many of the smaller and slower

On Port?

boats started as early as the previous Sunday in an effort to get us
all to Hawaii about the same time), we watched the earlier fleets work
their way from the California coast with no small degree of
difficulty. LIght and shifty breezes kept things challenging. And
weather patterns were in no rush to go back to ‘normal’ so it was into
this uncertainty that we sailed on Thursday.

We expected that the natural wind-generating geography of San
Francisco Bay and the (in)famous ‘slot’ thorugh which seabreezes are
accelerated would give us good wind at the start, and such was
certainly the case. Team Hula Girl shot out the Golden Gate and into
the Pacific where we met the first windshift to the south (as
expected), and away we went, heading (more or less) towards Hawaii on
port (!?!) tack. Conditions held into the first night, where things
started to get lighter and shifty. We use two weather models to
forecast the wind: COAMPS and GFS. The former takes into account
geography and the impact of land, so since we were just off the coast,
this one should have made moire sense. But COAMPS hadn’t been dealing
with the weird weather patterns of the last week terribly well, go it
had a high uncertainty rate. Which left GFS. It did ok, but not
great. The bottom line was that both of them told us to expect the
unexpected, and hence we resolved to stay close to the straight line
track (the rhumbline) , and keep moving towards Hawaii. That was our
basic exit strategy. I know it seems logical, but it’s easy to get
tempted to a side of the course, sometimes realizing short term gains
but at a cost down the line.

We were able to see maybe half our fleet spread out around us the
first night, some fairly distant and a couple close by. And we
crossed tacks with Delicate Balance a couple boat lengths away a
couple hours after sunrise on Friday. The morning roll call had us in
a good bunch, too early to have too much separation and still anyone’s
race! Conditions since leaving the Gate had been 5-10 knots, mostly
upwind, and we carried the #1 jib since Thursday afternoon and all day
Friday. The breeze was blowing anywhere from east of south to to just
north of west. Reflecting the instability of the winds, the
conflicting swell patterns make it a bit lumpy out here… especially
when it gets light! Early this morning the wind veered a little bit
and so just after first light we shifted to the Code 0 and staysail.
Been sailing like that all day as we work a touch south to avoid a
patch of high pressure in front of us and to keep with our fleet a
bit. We were second in our class as of the roll call this morning.
Not that it means too much this early in the race, but it’s

Life on board is great. Everyone is getting acclimated to life on
board, and accumulating lots of practice sailing the Hula Girl with a
jib up, which will pay dividends later as the spinnakers go up! We
have a fun bunch of people on board for this race, including three
veteran ‘Huligans’ which is actually making life easier for coaches
myself, Geoff, and Jasper. One Sunfish spotting. A small turtle. A
number of fishing net floats, all plastic (no glass ones), Some
lonely seabirds. And that’s been about it for the day. Not much else
to report, which is good news!

I think it’s time to start up dinner, so I’ll sign off for now but
will be beck in touch shortly…

All the best to our friends and family ashore, and we’ll see you in the morning!

Wayne Zittel & Team Hula Girl

Happy 4th All…

Well I for one can’t really believe that it is July already.  The sailing season has been absolutely ripping along. Classes have been running regularly in California, and there are a lot more on tap.

  • Up next is the Pacific Cup race from SF to Hawaii, with our start less than a week away!  The Hawaii races are sold out thru 2015, but we are accepting reservations for 2016.  We’ll be posting reports from the boat here so stay tuned for all the late breaking news from the middle of the Pacific!
  • We have a Racing Week in San Francisco July 21-25, then another one in August.
Have a great holiday!
– The J World Team