Monday lunchtime now, and we are reaching down the north shore of Molokai with a 2A spinnaker up, coasting towards the finish off Diamond Head. We should be in before Happy Hour ends. The fun thing about these races to Hawaii is that they are everything a good ocean race should be. They are exhausting and motivating. They are frustrating and gratifying. They boring and exciting. They are finesse and strength. They really do have it all, and are a roller coaster of a ride – mentally, physically, emotionally. As an ocean race should be. The sweetest successes are the ones we earn, and the accomplishments of our Hula Girl Team in the 2013 Transpac are precisely that: well earned and sweet indeed…. sweet like the Mai Tais waiting for us just over yonder…
We started off in Los Angeles with a crew of nine: three J World coaches and six sailors who – for the most part – had never sailed together before, nor sailed on a boat like Hula Girl. So our first challenge was to create a real team out of the disparate group. Then, as if that weren’t enough, an unlucky break in the first day (getting stuck in a windless hole) put before us another mountain to scale… we needed to catch up to our fleet. But what a year to be behind… the racecourse this time was uncharacteristically shifty and challenging…. it was a tough Transpac year.
I’ll cut to the chase: now, after we executed perfect gybe and have the finish line in sight, I can definitively say that this group – no, this TEAM – has truly impressed me with the their ability to conquer these goals…. and, more than that: they impressed me with the style of how they did it. Everyone busted their backs, driving, trimming, grinding, and we hammered back into the fleet. Seriously impressive speed, smoothly executed maneuvers, and (put simply) a well-sailed race. We picked off almost half the fleet, and had the rest looking nervously over their shoulders.. And we still have a shot at getting past a couple more boats… it’s too close to call. Another reason it’s a great race: 2225 miles across an ocean, over 11 days of non-stop racing, and we are going to have some close finishes. Good times indeed.
And beyond the success of climbing back into the race… what a blast we had doing it! It truly was an absolute pleasure sailing with each of our crew: Don, Dave, Tom, Mario, Tommy, and Peter, and coaches Geoff and Chris. The laughs cabin, the all night conversations in the cockpit, the overall collaboration was all so very great to see. I know I can say that I feel like I’m coming out of this race with a half dozen new friends…
What makes the races to Hawaii truly GREAT races is the fact that the scale always tilts, at the end of the day, towards the positive…. the sailing, the people, the great challenge of crossing an ocean. And I can say that this Transpac was a great race. Thanks to the race organizers and volunteers. Thanks to J World team supporters: Atlantis Weathergear, Team McLube, Expedition Software and Almar Marinas. Thanks especially to our friends and families that support our crazy ambitions.
But most of all, thanks to the crew of Hula Girl, a true bunch of (now certified) Hulagins with which I’d be happy to sail again… anywhere, anytime. Thanks tremendously, guys!
I’m going to go outside and enjoy the final push to Honolulu right now… we are about to punch into the breezy Molokai Channel and reach down to the finish line off Diamond Head. And it feels nice.
All the best,
Wayne Zittel and the Hula Girl Team
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