Pacific Cup Update- Time Zone Madness

Time Zone Madness

We started the race in San Francisco on Pacific Daylight Time (PDT).  The race is run on PDT.  Our required 8am position reports are in PDT.  All of the position reports on the tracker are in PDT.  So, we run the boat on PDT.

Our weather forecasts all are in Greenwich Mean Time, or Zulu (Z). Z is 7 hours ahead of PDT, adjusted for daylight savings time.  We have to convert the run times for our weather data to PDT to make sure we get the latest updates

As we have sailed west we have crossed 2 time zones.  Hawaii time is 2 hours behind Pacific Time, but Hawaii doesn’t use daylight savings time. So, adjusted for PDT we have gained 3 hours.  Since we are running on PDT, that doesn’t change our watch schedules.  It does change our Sun Time.  That means the 6am to 10 am watch has shifted to 3am to 7am in both Hawaii and Sun Time.  All the other watches are affected in the same way.

PDT vs Sun Time creates havoc with meal times.  No one wants breakfast at 3, lunch at 9 and dinner at noon.  To avoid this issue, Colette has shifted the meal times to match Sun Time.

When do we change the boat to Hawaii or Sun Time? At the finish.  The sailing instructions for the race require us to report our finish time in Hawaii Time.

Sorting all these time zone issues out requires a bit of mental gymnastics.!

Pacific Cup Update -A Whole Lot of Shaking Going on

A Whole Lot of Shaking Going On

From the Deck of Prospector

19 July 2019, 1342 PDT

The stalwart Prospector team has been busy.  Since our last post we have covered over 600 nautical miles and have 408 nautical miles to go. In that time, we have done 8 jibes and 4 spinnaker peels.  There has been a lot more for the crew to do as compared to the first half of the race.

Now, finally, as we close in on the finish, we have gotten the stronger winds that our big silver sled craves.  Until this morning the wind has been playing hide and seek with us.  A promising 12-15 knot wind Tuesday pm, gave way to a 7-10 knot wind overnight.  Wind speeds picked up again Wednesday am, only to give out again in the afternoon.  On and on it has gone with the crew buoyed by the strong periods and working hard to keep Prospector moving when the winds get light.  

As the fastest boat in the fleet we give a lot of time to our competitors on handicap.  With enough wind to get on step we are competitive but in semi planning conditions it’s a lot more work.  For example, our ORR rating is 1.359.  Pyewacket’s ORR rating is 1.15x.  This means that the ORR rating system expects all things being equal we will sail 20% fast than Pyewacket.  It is hard in the lower wind ranges to achieve this.

But, when the wind picks up we get up and go.  Since early this morning we have enjoyed the 15-17 knot wind speeds the forecasts have been predicting.  Suddenly, we are blitzing along at speeds of 15-20 knots and our handicap is no longer an issue.

Today’s stronger winds are arriving just in the nick of time.  We are running out of race course and in a dogfight for several trophies.  As things stand we are leading in the race to have the fastest elapsed time without handicap.  We are contending to be first boat overall to finish, currently second but gaining fast.  We are third in ORR overall and ORR Class E, both to Pyewacket and Blue.  Pyewacket is going to be tough to catch, but we have a chance to pass Blue.  The key to protecting our current standings and moving up the leaderboard where possible, is simple, SPEED.  We currently have it and we are hoping it will last to the finish sometime tomorrow pm.

A Few Other items of interest: 

Life onboard.

 Our lives onboard Prospector are governed by two sets of numbers.  One is the clock. The other is our sailing performance stats.  The two interact with each other in different ways.

Our daily lives are governed by the clock.  To begin with it’s a race we want to get there first.  Secondly, we each stand 3 four hour watches each day.  These watch schedules govern our day.  Every hour the watches rotate, two go on, two go off.   We are paired with our opposite on the other watch.  Our watch captains, Paul McDowell and Dave Scott change on the 12’s,4’s and 8’s.  Our navigators Larry Landry and Artie Means change at 6’s,10’s and 2’s.  There are at least 8 on deck at all times and 10 during a watch change, so we try to coordinate any maneuvers at the top of the hour when there are more hands available to help.  Often there are one or two other crew members on deck resting or avoiding the heat down below.  For some maneuvers, like sail changes all crew are brought on deck.  Off watch you eat, tend to personal hygiene, and sleep.  Not necessarily in that order.

 At all times of day, we obsess over our sailing performance.  We are constantly trimming and tweaking to improve.  Prospector has 17 B&G displays, each displaying 1-4 pieces of data.  We have two pc’s that display both visual information and more numbers than you can count.  There are 2 iPads on deck to monitor all the information available while on deck.  Artie and Larry are constantly looking at wind speed and direction data to plot our fastest course to the finish.  The real assessment of our hard work are the hourly position reports that tell us if we have gained or lost against our competitors and what they are up to.

Playing with squalls

Over the past 36 hours we have spent a lot of time playing with squalls. Handling these squalls well or poorly can mean the difference between winning and losing this race.  As one approaches, we try if we can, to get in front of it to ride it down the course.  If we can’t get in front of it we consider either pushing straight through it, if near the front or middle, or if not, jibing away if near the dead air zone at the back.  Sometimes they just disappear as quickly as they came with no effect.  It is a constant guessing game to try to gauge the strength and direction of each squall, whether it will help us, hurt us or leave us alone and what we want to try to do with it.  We try to wait as long as we can to make our decision on what to do with each squall. This allows us to learn as much as we can about it before committing to a specific strategy.   



We are now downwind VMG sailing, jibing frequently to remain in on the favored jibe.  We are also sometimes jibing to handle squalls in the best manner available to us.  Jibing a wicked up Mini Maxi at 17 to 20 knots of boat speed requires a pretty high degree of precision in sail and boat handling.  Generally, our jibes have gone pretty well, but we have thrown in the occasional klunker.  For this race, which allows us to stack weight from side to side for each tack or jibe, things are complicated by the need to shift the 7 or 8 sails we are not currently flying from one side of the boat to another to keep the weight on the high side.  The Prospector team, who have now formed a union, the Brotherhood of International Yacht Grinders, or BIYG for short (pronounced like big) local 60669, have risen to the challenge developed and perfected a Prospector centric system and become very at moving the stack/


RIP Drone

We are extremely sad to report that Matt Landry’s drone, named Near Miss, crashed in the mid Pacific Wednesday morning during its second offshore flight.  The success of the initial flight which produced some spectacular footage, a small portion of which was posted online, emboldened Matt to be more aggressive in his approach yesterday.  He was flying the drone further forward on the windward side of the sail plan when the boat headed up a wave and the drone disappeared behind the spinnaker, faced with the risk of tearing up one of our big new kites, he reduced the altitude of the drone and tried to fly it away from the sail.  The lack of altitude proved fatal when the disturbed air from the sails caught the drone and Matts attempt to pour on the power to fly away from the boat only hastened its demise.  No rescue attempt was mounted.


July 19 Race Report


Twenty-four more hours into this 20th edition of the Pacific Cup and we have continued to gain clarity on how much of the fleet may end up once all is said and done. With several boats beginning to line up their final approaches to the Hawaiian Islands, Charles Devanneaux and co-skipper Matthieu Damnerval look to have re-staked their claim to being the first boat over the finish line. After much uncertainty due to temporarily slowing down in light winds while the fleet's fastest boat came screaming up from behind, the two Frenchman on the revolutionary new Beneteau Figaro 3 now look set to finish what they started and be the first boat into Kaneohe. Just behind them, plenty of other storylines continue to play themselves out. Prospector may not be the first boat into the barn, but with the fleet's scratch boat still making 15 knots and now under 500 miles out, she should be in late Friday or early Saturday and remain in pole position to claim the Pacific Cup overall victory. Behind the Mark Mills designed mini-maxi, Hector Velarde's Andrews 70 Runaway has now just barely moved into second overall in the Pac Cup rankings, having displaced the leading Express 27, Loose Cannon, overnight.

While Prospector and Runaway have moved into podium positions in the overall rankings, it's still Roy Pat Disney's Andrews 68 Pyewacket which sits atop the race's premier BMW of San Rafael E division, though that lead is no longer insurmountable as Michael Schoendorf's Riptide 41 Blue has made massive inroads into Pyewacket's corrected time lead and now sits just eight and a half hours back on corrected time; not ultra-close but not out of striking distance either. With both boats having multi-time Olympic medallists aboard and stacked deep with talent, this is a fascinating race between two very well sailed boats. Prospector remains third in division with Runaway in fourth. 

Working back down through the fleet, we see that the Pasha Hawaii D division has even further compressed and for the first time since departing San Francisco, we may soon have a new leader. After jumping out to a resounding lead in the very early stages of the race and then maintaining for much of it, Gregory Mullins' Farr 52 Zamazaan, stocked with several of San Francisco's top professional sailors, is now relegated to play defense against the pair of ultra-quick 32-footers that look destined to shake up the rankings in D division. Once past the light upwind and sheets-cracked reaching stages of this Pacific Cup, Chris Kramer's Six Brothers and Rufus Sjoberg's Rufless have been on a steady rise up through the ranks, and with both boats reveling in the off-the-breeze surfing conditions that define the latter stages of the Pacific Cup, are now attempting to take ownership of the D division's top spot. As of this morning, Six Brothers and Rufless were just 4 hours and 7 hours behind Zamazaan on corrected time, after both displacing J World's Hula Girl, and knocking this division's defending champion off the podium and into fourth place. With the D fleet boats passing the halfway point yesterday, there should still be plenty of race track left for the Columbia Carbon 32 Six Brothers and Melges 32 Rufless to burn past Zamazaan, though we don't know which order they'll be in when they do it. Rufless and her crew certainly know the way to Hawaii, but Six Brothers won't be easy to pass, with the oftentimes under-appreciated Tim Kernan design having proven itself to be an absolute weapon in the ocean. 

Alaska Airlines C division was predicted to be a barn-burner from the get-go, and it has exceeded even our wildest expectations. Phil Wampold's J/92 Zaff, full of young Melges sailing Canadians, has sailed an absolutely incredible race thus far, but as we have been long anticipating, she is beginning to have a hard time handling her competition in the dead-downwind running stages of the Pacific Cup. Morale is certainly high on Alex Simanis' Evelyn 32-2 Poke and Destroy, with the Seattle based crew beginning to look unstoppable in their quest to move atop the leaderboard in one of this year's most competitive divisions. The team is having the time of their life as they continually chip away at Zaff's lead after doing the same to Sweet Okole earlier this week. Poke and Destroy is now more than seven and a half hours clear of Okole, and less than three and a half hours behind Zaff on corrected, and moving very well under their A2 spinnaker in 12-15 knots of breeze. After bailing the media guy out with a much needed and last minute ride to the train station on the first day of starts, we're happy to have the chance to shower Poke and Destroy with triumphant superlatives.

Karl Haflinger's J/35 Shearwater remains atop the big Weems & Plath B division, which still has more than half the race to sail. Since being the slower division to start on arguably the slowest day of starts, this Pacific Cup is proving to be the race where the fun just won't stop as B division's backmarkers are now in a race against the clock if they are even to make it into Kaneohe before the awards. Wyatt Jones' Davidson 44 Imagine isn't far off the pace, just four hours back as of this writing, while The Fugitive, Alessandra and Free also remain well in contention. 

Coral Reef Sailing Apparel A division is once again led by race stalwart Jim Quanci and his classic Cal 40 Green Buffalo. After compressing and consolidating for days with Bob Horton's Highlander, the two Cal 40's briefly engaged in a match race yesterday, which predictably went in favor of veteran skipper Quanci and crew. Again displaying how close this A division is, recent division leader Highlander has moved from first place to last place, as there's virtually nothing in it on corrected time, with second through fourth virtually tied. As anticipated, Rebecca Hinden's Express 27 Bombora is again beginning to make moves up the leaderboard in the closing stages, and we would suspect the little red ultralight to pull away from Morgan 382 Eliana and Highlander. With close to 600 miles left to sail for the A fleet boats, there's still plenty of time for one good day of surfing - or even a prolonged squall - to help eat up the two and a half hour deficit to division leader Green Buffalo. 

The fleet's two doublehanded divisions continue to excite with both divisions still up for grabs after a number of lead changes. Loose Cannon remains atop Pau Maui Vodka/ DH1 (and in third overall) with a lead of nearly five hours over Motorcycle Irene, though Irene has begun her late race charge and now sits firmly in second place with nearly 500 miles left to sail for the Express 27s. Irene co-skipper and professional sailor Will Paxton has been a part of countless divisional and overall winning efforts in both the Pac Cup and the Transpac, and can never be counted out in a Hawaii race. While we lauded Motorcycle Irene as heavy pre-race favorites, and were vindicated in that prediction in the early reaching stages of this race, Loose Cannon, Alternate Reality and Fired Up! have all proven that the level of competition in this fleet is incredibly high, even higher than we thought, and all of the crews deserve a heck of a lot of credit for sailing absolutely phenomenal races. 

Mount Gay Rum/ DH2 has finally seen pre-race favorite and two-time defending division champion Wolfpack, piloted by husband/ wife duo Bill and Melinda Erkelens make their move and assume the lead over Lester Robertson's Moore 24 Foamy. Both crews have been racing to Hawaii longer than much of their competition has been alive, and it shows. Playing the south hard since day one, we all watched as they faded deep down the rankings early on with the J/105 Abstract looking good up north. As is usually the case however, the northerly boats faded and on cue, these ultra-experienced race veterans cashed in their chips to make late race moves to the top of the leaderboard. Separated by less than an hour on corrected time as of this writing, Wolfpack has under 400 miles left to sail, while Foamy is about a day further back. Frederic Berg and Mikey Bacon have been playing the middle ground on the Antrim 27 Bacon Berger for nearly the entire race and still have an outside shot at winning the division, and currently fill the final podium position in this hard-fought race.

The quickest cruisers in the Kolea cruising division are now under 500 miles from Kaneohe, and it is beginning to look more and more like Matt Solhjem's Hanse 505 Anais is going to pull of the upset and take down sistership Outremer; a result of Outremer's northerly routing and parking it up in the big wind hole that claimed many of the first wave of starter's top boats including Green Buffalo, Abstract and A Fond le Girafon. Paul Koenig's Jeannuea Sun Odyssey 40.3 Bear Boat rounds out the podium with the first arrivals scheduled to be get in over the weekend. 

The media team will be based at Kaneohe Yacht Club from tonight, awaiting the fleet's first boats, which should start trickling in as early as Friday afternoon. 


-Ronnie Simson