Land Ho!

What have we missed??  What possible wind speed, sail combination, and/or wind angle have we NOT seen in the past 700 miles since leaving California  four days ago in the 2011 Newport to Cabo Race?  From upwind in ghostlike zephyrs, scarcely moving a ripple on the face of the Pacific, with every stitch of canvas we can set flying, to charging along on a reach in 20 knots, peeling to the A4 to keep the wheels on the wagon, so to speak.

As I write this we are just a tick over 60 miles from Cabo.  Our fleet is pretty tight, with the SC50 Horizon leading our class, and overall.  We’ve been hammering at the fleet since paying some dues early in the race and are slowly getting back into it.  While we were happy to see the fourth place at roll call this morning, I was also surprised to see that Locomotion really found some wheels overnight and slipped in front of us (I had been optimistically hoping for a third).

But it ain’t over yet.  And with the tight grouping in our fleet and the unstable conditions we’ve been dealing with, anything remains possible!  We are gambling a bit (going to have to to get past the extremely well sailed  likes of Bad Pak and Loco), and it’s all coming down to the next five hours…  if our westerly shift comes in early enough, we can stand to make up some time, but if she’s late coming to the dance, we’ll be reaching hard to the finish…

Beyond that, life is great onboard Hula Girl.  At the moment, nearly our whole crew is on deck.  Drew is driving, mark is trimming, Bev is grinding.  Eric was just good enough to do the dishes after a superb shift driving.  Now it looks like nap time for him.  We have 16-18 knots of breeze and are scooting along at 10-12 (with spikes over 14 in the puffs).  Everyone is hanging tough, and the spectacular night sailing we have been having has blown away most of our crew.  Maneuvers and sail changes are getting better, the driving smoother.  And it shows.  We are hanging pretty close to some teams who have been sailing together for many years, and  thousands of  open ocean miles.  And we’re pretty happy to be here…  this race has been a challenge, and a hoot.  I’m not sure which has been more fun, sailing a challenging event like this against some great teams, or sailing with a group of sailors and watching them become a great team.

Anyway, I have to get going…  I’m going to go on deck and look for signs of that lefty we’re banking on.  For the moment, I’m tired, but happy, and I suspect that’s a sentiment which runs thru our whole team.  That’s not to say a couple simple things like a shower and a Margarita won’t make me happier, but for a stinky, sleep deprived, dehydrated, sun-blasted, wind-chapped, bruised and battered sailor, I’m surprisingly gratified.  And that will stand, leftie or not…

Wayne Zittel and the Hula Girl Crew