The Unbearable Lightness of Sailing (in the 2015 Transpac)…

And we are off in the 2015 Transpac Race from LA to Hawaii!

J/World’s Hula Girl got a nice start a couple of boatlengths down from the committee boat, with a wide lane and good speed. The beat to Catalina Island was pretty much normal, although maybe a bit lighter than usual. We had a nice 10 knots, and carried our heavy #1 jib all the way. For a while it looked like we might lay the island, but it ended up taking a couple tacks to get around the West End. Then we were off on the starboard tack drag race, pushing out to sea, through the last of the Channel islands and into the beautiful Pacific.. The breeze held wonderfully through the night, and we had a fantastic sail…. but in the morning, well, it was a different story.

The Pacific is certainly living up to her name. We knew it was going to get light. Everyone out here did. So it was absolutely no surprise as the breeze tapered off and left us struggling to nurse every once of power, every drop of speed, from our sails and our boats. It’s now late Friday night (well, early Saturday morning), and it has been a tough day. The unstable, light, shifty breeze has taken a consistently high level of attention and focus. I have always argued that it is tougher to sail a boat efficiently when it is light than when it is heavy. then throw in an ocean swell that is coming from an entirely different direction than the wind, and well, you have a bit of a challenge on your hands. What little breeze there is seems to always come straight from where we want to go, straight from Hawaii. and so we try to play the huge shifts to make any progress at all towards the islands, but our tacking angles in these light breezes are huge, and the tacks are slow and painful. Regardless, the crew has been doing a great job in these challenging conditions. It’s a new boat (to them), a new team, a new event, and, well, even a new ocean for most of them! So while it isn’t your typical Transpac so far, we are pretty much rolling with it and we’ll see what shakes out. Still have over 2000 miles to go! There is the tropical storm Dolores pushing up form the south, and then the typical tradewind flow that should try to develop again, well, hopefully before this race ends, so who knows where the breeze will be, and when it will get here? We all have our guesses, I am sure, and it will be interesting to see everyone’s position tomorrow morning after this instability has shuffled up the fleet. I would expect there to be a pretty big spread in things….

Life onboard is good. We have seen whales and dolphins, little jellyfish and lots of nice blue water. Had to back down in the middle of the night when we landed on a kelp island in an apparent attempt by the on-watch crew to claim it for King and Country. I am glad I have hidden/rationed much of the snack food onboard since everyone just grazes when it gets light. It’s dark out tonight, clouds covering the sky and soaking up what little light there is…. and while it sure makes the phosphorescence in the water something wild, it also makes the sailing really, really tough. Anyway, that’s it for now… our preliminary report for this running of the Transpac, Stay tuned for more!

Wayne Zittel and the Hulagains

J/World’s Hula Girl

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