Pretty cool. Just awesome sailing right now in perfect conditions, and the Hawaiian Islands are coming up fast.
And there is more: from Wednesday morning at 8 am to Thursday morning 8am, Hula Girl covered more miles than any other boat out here, with the exception of the big Icon. That’s pretty impressive for a team that never sailed together before, and never sailed this boat before. In fact, most of the crew didn’t even know each other two weeks ago. They came from all around the US and Canada to race in the 2012 Pacific Cup from San Francisco to Hawaii. Add to the mix three coaches from J World Performance Sailing, and you have Team Hula Girl.
In the course of an event like this, we (coaches) work hard to try to get everyone aboard to do all the heavy lifting. Everyone is an equal team member, and gets equal time doing all the jobs onboard an offshore racer, from trimming to grinding to driving. I’m not going to candy-coat anything. It can be really rough going for the first couple of days. The crew is learning the boat and getting acclimated to onboard life in the toughest possible setting: an actual offshore race on a real offshore boat competing against numerous grand-prix level teams. And it’s not uncommon that we get fairly beat up by the competition in those early days.
But then something pretty cool happens. The team gels. They learn how to drive the boat better, the early signs of being too high (or to low) and how much to respond. How the pitch and roll and yaw of the Pacific swells effect the boat and the sails. The trimming gets crisper, faster to respond to the driver and the wind. The team goes from being re-active to pro-active. The boat sails ‘in the groove’ longer, smoother, faster. Case in point: yesterday. As mentioned before, Team Hula Girl did an impressive job posting high miles and gains (some significant) on many teams out here with pro sailors, long term programs, and seasoned vets. Nicely done!!
We are about 100 miles out right now, on the final push to the finish. We are expecting a fifth place in our class, and a fifth place overall. Not too shabby. And, what’s even better, is that it’s shaping up to be one final beautiful evening. We’ll have a waxing moon, and mostly clear skies. With about 14 knots of breeze, we are surfing small swells under spinnaker at about 12 knots. Tonight, as we run towards Kaneohe Bay on the north shore of Oahu looking at an early morning finish, I am really proud to have sailed with everyone on this team. Not only did they do a truly fantastic job, but they were also an absolute blast to be with. Many thanks to coaches Geoff (the Governor) and Chris (the Dude) for their tireless efforts and keeping the proverbial ‘wheels on the wagon,’ and of course thanks to Tom (the Tominator), Tim (the Bishop), Les (Field Marshal Serge), Brendan (the Cowboy), Martha (Trixie), and John (Bux Money) for making this such an enjoyable and memorable passage.
Clearly we have been out here too long. Now we need to get ready for our finish. And I’m looking forward to sampling the local refreshments. I hear they have something delicious called a Mai Tai and that it is terribly difficult to have only one. There are some challenges I am not ready or willing to face, so I am fine if they give me a couple…
Wayne Zittel and the Hula Girl Team
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