Mittwoch, 9. Juli 2008

Transpac '08 Tahiti Race - Alle im Ziel

Inzwischen sind alle im Ziel, aber die Stories gehen weiter. Rich Roberts berichtet:

July 8, 2008 Polynesian sun sets on last Tahiti finisher tonight The sun is yet to shine on any finish in the Transpacific Yacht Club’s Tahiti Race, and Jim Morgan’s Fortaleza seemed likely to complete a nocturnal sweep Tuesday when it closes out the contest by crossing the line offshore from---appropriately---the Point Venus lighthouse near Papeete around midnight.

“Last day,” was the message from the boat. “Racing in for last call at the bar.”

For the race committee, it’s as anxious and sleep-depriving as waiting up for your daughter on her first late date, with one upside: “Gorgeous stars,” said Dave Cort, the race chairman from TPYC.

Meantime, the pause allowed time to reflect on Magnitude 80’s record run of 11 days 10 hours 13 minutes 18 seconds, in the words of navigator Ernie Richau, who charted the course for Doug Baker’s Andrews 80:

“The conditions were very similar to what we expected when we left. The start of the race was a typical Transpac start when we go to Hawaii and the Pacific High is down south. Typically we [follow] a course of around 200 degrees, and that’s what we did here, but at about Longitude 132.5, instead of continuing on to Hawaii, we jibed and headed south toward Tahiti.

“The weather was forecast. We got out past Catalina in about 10 knots of breeze and then began reaching in 20 to 24 knots of wind. After a day the wind started to free up and we went to our first spinnaker, and after another day we actually started running with our running spinnaker---a typical Hawaii race up to that point---until we jibed south to go to Tahiti.

“Once we jibed, we continued to run in 16 to 20 knots of wind. By that time we were into the [northeast] trade winds [and] the sail was very nice. The skies were very, very clear. It really was incredible.

“We ran all the way down to approximately 9 North Longitude as the weather continued to be fantastic, and then the wind started to lighten as we entered the ITCZ [Intertropical Convergence Zone, i.e. the Doldrums], which was about 5 North. For the three days prior, 140 West [Latitude] looked like a pretty good crossing, but within 12 hours before we got there it really changed. It was quite ominous the night we went into it . . . pitch black, very cloudy, one of the darkest nights we’d ever seen. We were reaching in maybe 12 knots of wind and we could see lightning strikes in the sky [above the area] we were sailing into. A big low [-pressure area] had flared up right in front of us, so it was a little slow there . . . wind from all directions through there, very light.

“It rained buckets in the ITCZ . . . very wet. At 3 or 4 North we were beating upwind. Once we got through that we were once again reaching, and the wind had shifted to the southeast trade winds and, as forecast, the wind had built from 10 knots up to about 20. We continued to sail in the southeast trades until we made our approach . . . reaching with a jib and a main or a jib, staysail and main in 15 to 20, until we approached the Mataiva atoll. We went within maybe a half-mile of the coast there. [Ed.: Mataiva was the second and last mark of the course, after Catalina.]

“This part of the race was a little different. A low had passed south of Tahiti, and that had softened the trade winds dramatically . . . maybe 8 to 12 the rest of the race from just north of Mataiva. [Tahiti was] like the pictures I’d seen of it where you could see the island from about 55 miles out with the tall mountains and the trade wind clouds.”

In finishing, Mag 80 set the pattern. It missed sundown by 2 or 3 hours on a moonless night. Otherwise, it was a good ride. “We probably did three to three-and-a-half days of the 11 days spinnaker sailing and the rest was reaching with jibs and genoas,” Richau said. A dozen of the crew, including Richau and Baker, had never sailed across the equator and thus graduated from Pollywogs to Shellbacks.

“Fantastic!” Richau exclaimed. “I’ve gotta tell you, this race is the best race I’ve ever done. You hit everything, and sailing out in the ocean and crossing the equator, there’s a lot more to it when you start doing that stuff, versus the Mexican races we do on the West Coast or Bermuda races on the East Coast. To go to Hawaii we do sail in the ocean---and that is real ocean racing---and when you throw the ITCZ into it, that really adds a big piece of the puzzle that makes it fun. I want to do this again. It was great.”

Blogs from the boats

Fortaleza: As Jim Brown summarized, "Another day, just like the last, only wetter." After we finished the reef as mentioned in my last post, we came back to course and continued to "slide on down the line." Lots of big waves on the beam and lots of sliding make for about 10 degrees of leeway. Somehow, even when it’s blowing 25 knots, we are still making 10 knots.

The night was beautiful again, makes you sad for what we've lost since electrifying our nights. Waxing crescent moon to starboard, the Milky Way to port and the Southern Cross on the bow ... now with some pretty good height. That's it ... getting a tad monotonous. Actually, got a dictionary here, let’s see … yup, third meaning, monotony: “beam reaching in the southeastern trades in the South Pacific ocean.”

Tahiti Race 2008 standings (boat for boat at 6 a.m. PDT Tuesday)

1. Magnitude 80 (Andrews 80), Doug Baker, Long Beach, finished, elapsed time 11 days 10 hours 13 minutes 18 seconds (betters record of 14:21:15:26 by Kathmandu, Santa Cruz 70, Fred Kirschner, 1994); corrected time same.

2. Medicine Man (Andrews 63), Bob Lane, Long Beach, ET 13:08:35:23; CT 11:13:57:05.

3. Ragtime (Spencer 65), Chris Welsh, Newport Beach, ET 14:16:24:23; CT 10:20:11:18.

4. Fortaleza (Santa Cruz 50), Jim Morgan, Long Beach, 238 miles in last 24 hours; 200 miles to go.

Mehr dazu beim Transpacific Yacht Club.

Der Dank für das Foto von MEDICINE MAN beim Zieldruchgang geht an Louis Laplane, für das von RAGTIME im nächtlichen Hafen an Dave Cort.