TRANSPAC – Report from J/World’s Hula Girl
Well all right now.
It’s time to get all our family and friends caught up on the happenings out here in the deep blue Pacific. We are now about two and a half days into the 2017 Transpac and things have started to settle down enough that yours truly can take a minute to run thru the past couple of days.
On July 5 our fleet started off of Point Fermin in LA under clear skies. We had a nice start on the boat end of the line, mostly clear of traffic, and we started across the channel towards Catalina Island. The breeze built on the way, and by the time we passed the West End, we had shifted from the big genoa to our #3 jib. We were seeing a nice 15 knots of breeze and a really mild sea state. The crew began to adjust to life at a good angle of heel, while getting a feel for the way Hula Girl sails. The first night was stunning. A large moon in a cloudless sky lit up the surface of the water, making it look like a sea filled with scampering silver fish. Hila Girl clipped along nicely, and we started to grow used to the sound of the water sheeting off the hull.
Our fleet is going to be very tough, very tight. The ten boats in our class are all very close in design and speed… and the talent out here is astounding! To do well, we are going to have to continually work hard, sail to a high standard, and keep the boat in good wind and at a good heading. This year we were faced with an atypical split high pressure system, with the eastern portion sitting pretty much right on top of our racecourse. That means light winds along the direct rhumb line course. And that’s not good. So our whole fleet opted to dive south early to stay in good breeze, and it’s been working great. The downside is that we end up sailing more distance. So it’s a fine line, and some boats are staying a bit north, and other working farther south, We feel pretty good about where we are. We also had some great pre-race coaching/guidance from Rick Shema (weatherguy.com) and wanted to thank him for his great routing advice. Now let’s see what we can do with it!
After a day of pretty tight reaching with the #3, we shifted to the Jib Top, and even took in a reef for a while. By midday today (Fri) we thought we could get the first spin up, so out came the A3 and away we went. SInce then, we have been reaching with that sail, slowly getting lifted as we get farther West.
Position reports have our fleet really tight…. there is a pack of six boats just to the north, and three more just to the south. Some 25% into this race and it really is absolutely anybody’s to win. We are into a bit of a drag race now, but looking down the road it could get a bit interesting weather wise.
Life onboard is good. With the wind getting farther behind us, the boat has been leveling off. Things are starting to dry off a bit (it gets a little wet the first couple of days) and with any luck the soakings associated with upwind sail changes are a thing of the past! Tonight for dinner we had some wonderful braised prime rib medallions with a peppercorn sauce paired with a delightful Cabernet, Just kidding. We had freeze dried lasagne.
Ok, I think that’s it for now. It’s just past midnight out here, some 600 miles off the coast of North America. Paul just went up on deck. Derek and Patrick are hitting the rack for some well earned sleep. It’s beautiful tonight, a slightly bigger moon, really flat seas, and a nice steady breeze. We are starting to get into Hula Girl’s element, the downwind slide. So now we need to see if we can put some miles on these other boats!
Good night everyone.. and we’ll be in touch again soon….
Wayne Zittel and the Hula Girl Crew