Sail it like it’s Stolen…
That became the motto amongst the crew yesterday when we realized that it was show-time. We had a fantastically close race going in the 2011 Transpac Race, and after 9 days of open ocean racing, it was all up for grabs.
We had a phenomenal night, blasting along an ocean alive with moonlight and swells. Some 18-22 knots of breeze had us getting many back-to-back prolonged surfs at 15, 16 , 17 knots. It’s almost impossible to describe the sensation with any justice. Water searing by with a steady hiss. Spray sheeting off the bows as the helm grows light and the boat lunges down the wave. It’s one of my favorite things in the world. It is a complete rush and requires full concentration. It’s part science, part art. Park me in the back of a fast boat on a moonlit run anytime!
Dawn broke and were were all a bit tired, and we were faced with a need to gybe. That’s where things started to go south. In short, we botched it and blew up our 2A spinnaker, yes, the one that so faithfully dragged us nearly all the way across the Eastern Pacific. We got that sorted, and were off with the 4A chute when we got the morning standings… we had dropped to fourth in class, but 2nd place was still right there, so we certainly weren’t out of it.
Then the final straw: while blasting along on a great broad reach expecting to see Molokai at any moment and report in with our “100 mile to the finish” required check-in, the steering went out. The boat rounded up, and the crew did a fantastic job of rallying to get the spinnaker down in trying conditions. A quick look below revealed that a corner of the steering quadrant had broken off, allowing the steering cables to go slack and rendering them useless. So. After 2125 miles, we are now proceeding to the finish line with reduced sail area and our emergency tiller rigged.
What a roller coaster ride! As we reach toward the finish, after all the great surfs, and after all the trials and tribulations, the thing I am most thankful for is the great crew we have aboard Hula Girl. Coaches Josh and Geoff worked tirelessly to make sure things went smoothly, and to make sure all of our guests had an enjoyable and beneficial time. Thanks to Mark, Jason, David, Tom, Tom, and Tom. It truly was a pleasure sailing with each and every one of you!
Anyway, that’s it for now. Going to go sit on deck in the sun, maybe take a nap, or watch Molokai slip by, or just let the whole experience soak in. I’ll post some great pictures and a wrap-up in a couple of days.
All the best,
Wayne Zittel and the J World Team
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