2014 Pacific Cup - Skill and luck required for victory

Invisible Hand.
Leslie Richter
Winning an ocean race like the Pacific Cup requires skill, but also some luck. Unlike many previous years where a boat performance was key, this year was more of a chess match, with luck and weather analysis making a big difference. Everyone in the fleet sailed south of the rhumb line for the first third of the race, but those who remained south suffered severely.

Scarlett Runner, Australian Robert Date’s Reichel Pugh 52, won the Pacific Cup grand slam – first in the Latitude 38 division, first in rating group and first overall. The variety of weather encountered on this race made it a navigator’s race to some degree, and Jessica Sweeney, Scarlett Runner’s navigator, won kudos from her crew. Scarlett Runner put in an intense last 24 hours to compensate for time lost dealing with an A4 spinnaker blown to smithereens during a middle-of-the-night broach and an encounter with a fishing net.

Roy Disney’s Andrew 68, Pyewacket, was in a race to the wire with Scarlett Runner, but finished a few hours after her, winning second in division and rating group and third overall. Invisible Hand, Frank Slootman’s Reichel/Pugh 62, was third in division, fourth in rating group and sixth overall.

Karl Robrocks’s Moore 24, Snafu, double-handed with Giles Combrisson in the ‘Iwi Double Handed division, was the other big winner – first in division, first in PHRF, and 11th overall. Ward Naviaus’s Blade Runner, double-handed with Andy Schwenk one of the four Santa Cruz 27’s (all from the Pacific Northwest), won second in ‘Iwi Double-Handed division, second in rating group and 13th overall. Jim Quanci and Mary Lovely's Cal 40 Green Buffalo with husband Jim Quanci finished third in division, eighth in rating group and 17th overall.

As anticipated by several of her competitors, Hamachi, Greg Slyngstad’s J-125 from Washington state, finished first in the Sonnen BMW division, third in rating group and fourth overall. Second to finish, winning second in division, fifth in rating group and ninth overall, was Reinrag2, a Southern California boat with a crew that included five family members. Both Reinrag 2 and Swazik, Sebastian de Halleux’s Swan 45 crossed the finish line on a windy night in a torrential downpour, with Swazik earning a third in division, seventh in rating group, second overall.

Two Hobie 33’s dominated the Matson Division, with John Denny’s Por Favor winning first in division and 15th in rating group and counterpart Joe Well’s Aero coming in second in division, 16th in rating group, and 27th overall. Coming in third in division, 18th in rating group and 29th overall, was Wayne Koide's Sydney 36, Encore.

Free Bowl of Soup, the Oregon based J105, finished first in the Weems and Plath division, seventh in rating group and 18th overall. Coyote, Steve Hill’s Beneteau First 42, arrived next, earning second in division, ninth in rating group, and 20th overall. Tiki Blue, Gary Troxel's Beneteau 423, was third in division, 11th in rating group and 23rd overall.

In the Kolea Double-Handed Division, Bill and Melinda Erkelen’s hopes to repeat their overall Pacific Cup win twenty years ago were dashed by light-to-no wind off the California coast and finished first in division, third in rating group and 14th overall. Thirsty, Charles Devanneaux's Beneteau First 30 from Southern California, double-handed with Fred Courouble, finished second in division, fifth in rating group, and 16th overall. California Condor, Buzz Blackett’s Antrim class 40, correct to third in division, but was first in division to cross the finish line in the ocean outside Kaneohe bay – with just a jib, no mainsail -- in weather conditions of 45+ knot winds, pouring rain and lightning.

The Alaska Airlines division saw stiff competition throughout the race between two Cal 40’s, Rodney Pimentel’s Azure and Timm and Victoria Lessley’s California Girl. Azure won first in division, fourth in rating group and 15th overall. However, California Girl, who won second in division, eighth in rating group, and 19th overall, took pride in beating Azure to the finish line by 43 minutes. Back Bay, Peter Schoenburg’s Cal 29 came in third in division, earning 10th in rating group and 22nd overall.

Two other boats in the Alaska Airlines Division, Michael Morazadeh’s Cayenne, and Paul Elliott’s VALIS, didn’t do well in the rankings, but did much to make this year’s race a success. Both served as communications boats and each ended up diverting to assist competitors with broken rudders. VALIS came to the assistance of Dean Treadway's Farr 36, Sweet Okole, and Cayenne diverted in the mid-Pacific to assist Steve Stroub’s Santa Cruz 37, Tiburon. Tiburon arrived at Kaneohe Yacht Club under headsail only and using her boom as a steering mechanism. Both boats retired from the race after receiving outside assistance.

In the Hokulea Multihull division, new this year, the winner is Lawrence Olsen's Humdinger, a Walter Greene Acapella trimaran double-handed with Curt Helmgren.

The Hoho Holo cruising division, also a first this year, was not racing officially – but when two or more boats are out on the water headed the same direction, there is always a race. Michael Chabatov’s Jeanneau 49, Venture, led the fleet across the Pacific, was the first boat to make the 200 mile (from the finish line) check-in that ended the Yellowbrick tracker’s six-hour data delay, and the second boat to arrive in Hawaii. Chabatov said he strove to compete under sail alone until slatting in the Pacific High: 'Should I sit here slatting or turn the engine on and get to the wind?' They turned on the engine. There is no official winner of the Holo Holo division, but the boats in this division all seem to feel like winners. Removing the pressure of racing makes for a wonderful transit across the Pacific, but some Holo Holo boats are talking about doing the 2016 Pacific Cup in a racing division.

Blogs from nearly half the boats enabled family, friends and other interested parties to follow the race like never before. They shared fun personal views of their ocean adventures, and the trials, tribulations, and even meal selections of the voyage. Coyote provided readers with some spectacular aerial photos of Coyote and Gary Troxel’s Tiki Blue racing together mid-Pacific.

Click here for full results

Event website
http://www.sail-world.com/124870