June 30 , 2008 - Mag 80 breaks out of Doldrums, flees to Tahiti
LOS ANGELES—The pain is past and life is beautiful in the Transpacific Yacht Club’s 13th Tahiti Race---at least for Doug Baker and his crew on Magnitude 80.
The race leaders from Long Beach, Calif. broke out of the Doldrums Sunday and by Monday … well, here’s a first-person account from navigator Ernie Richau:
“[Sunday] night it was beautiful on deck. We were two-sail reaching in 12 knots of wind with a boat speed over 13 knots. Off our starboard transom we could see the Big Dipper in the sky. Off the port bow stood the Southern Cross. The skies were completely clear and the temperature required only T-shirts and shorts.
“Right now we are at latitude 01-01 north. Sixty-one miles to the south is the equator. Hogan [Beatie], our third generation Tahiti racer, was just expressing his excitement at crossing the equator on a sailboat today. All of us are looking forward to it even if 'King Neptune' is feverishly making plans.”
On the ninth day, with 1,233 miles to go, Mag 80 was on schedule to break the record of 14 days 21 hours 15 minutes 26 seconds set by Fred Kirschner’s Kathmandu in the last Tahiti Race in 1994 by about two days.
The other three boats---Bob Lane’s Medicine Man, Chris Welsh’s Ragtime and Jim Morgan’s Fortaleza---also had passed the halfway point of the 3,571-nautical mile race, but any hopes of overtaking Mag 80 with tactical moves through the Intertropical Convergence Zone had vanished.
Richau continued: “It looks like Medicine Man and Rags just started to hit the slow part of their crossing on the last report. Over the last couple of days we have lost about 100 miles of the lead we had on them. It's now our turn to lay down some miles while they struggle with the difficult conditions. We are still excited to see how we fair.
“About 10 a.m. this morning we popped out of the ‘duldrums’ and began our 1,400-mile reach to Tahiti. It's now 5 in the afternoon and we are going upwind in 10 knots of breeze with a few scattered clouds and lots of sunshine! This is quite a change from the last 36 hours. We have cleaned the boat out down below, a few of the crew have take showers and the constant sail changes and trying to read the clouds has slowed down.
“It will be interesting to see how the other yachts make their way through. Medicine Man has taken a similar route to ours while it appears Ragtime and Fortaleza are much farther east, a more rhumb line course. Time will tell which pays off the best.”
Blogs from the boats
Ragtime: Still getting beat up going to weather in heavy breeze. Blew out jib halyard during night. Hoping for some relief from lifting angle. No sign of Doldrums that's for sure. Strange last night talking to Fortaleza at 2000 (8 p.m. PDT. They had been in full sun, no wind, and we had no sun, no stars, pounding rain and squall lines 3-4 times per hour for last 30 hours---and we are 100 miles apart.
Fortaleza: We finish the first week as we enter the Doldrums proper. Last night we jibed onto starboard pole, just tiny bit rustily, and we had another night with no stars or moon. Driving was complicated as we've been on port pole for so long ... we've forgotten how to turn right. About an hour before dawn, we started getting some clearing and could see a few stars, and the waning crescent moon made a brief and welcome appearance. We are seeing diminishing winds as we skirt north of the ITCZ looking for a gap to break through. We spent the day driving, trimming the spinnaker, taking showers, and repairing a worn spinnaker halyard.
WARNING: Extremely hilarious joke follows. We all had a good laugh as Jim [Morgan] read the label on the all-purpose soap we had brought. Apparently, it is the "Dial (for men) Hairy Body Wash." Specially designed for sasquatches, but strong enough for women. Produced at the finest refineries, for the manliest men. Of course, the directions entail "rinse, lather and poof" ... so we remain skeptical. Well, tune in tomorrow folks. I'm sure you're as excited as I am to know how we do traversing though the ITCZ.
Tahiti Race 2008 standings
(boat for boat at 6 a.m. PDT Monday)
1. Magnitude 80 (Andrews 80), Doug Baker, Long Beach, 219 miles daily run/1,233 nautical miles to go.
2. Medicine Man (Andrews 63), Bob Lane, Long Beach 182/1,458.
3. Ragtime (Spencer 65), Chris Welsh, Newport Beach, 134/1,699.
4. Fortaleza (Santa Cruz 50), Jim Morgan, Long Beach, 182/1,849.
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