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19 July 2005, 10:57 am
Wind? Pye, Glory And GR Can Make Their Own
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Transpacific Yacht Race 2005

"Wimpy trade winds' are making for slow progress in the middle of the 43rd Transpacific Yacht Race to Hawaii, but the big boats that started on Sunday are still eating up the miles.
Roy DISNEY's Pyewacket averaged 12.4 knots over the first 19 hours before Monday morning's position reports, the same speed a previous Pyewacket made when it set the current record in 1999, while Hasso PLATTNER's Morning Glory and Randall PITTMAN's Genuine Risk clocked 12.3 and 12.1 knots, respectively.

Pyewacket had sailed 270 nautical miles, the same as Genuine Risk, to rank in first place, 1,989 nautical miles from Diamond Head. Morning Glory had sailed 276 miles but was 1,991 miles out because it took a sharp dip twelve miles south of Pyewacket, which was holding a moderate northerly course, with Genuine Risk halfway in between.

Transpac competitors often drop south to avoid the dreaded 'Pacific high' zone of light wind that usually haunts the rhumb (direct) line of 2,225 miles, hoping to sail farther but faster.

Stan HONEY is calling the navigational shots for Pyewacket, Peter ISLER for Morning Glory and Mark RUDIGER for Genuine Risk. HONEY and RUDIGER have won several Transpac navigator awards between them, while ISLER collaborated with Nick WHITE to develop the software for Expedition, a navigation and performance racing programme. But their approaches to this Transpac on such high-performance boats that, like ice boats or land sailors in effect create their own wind, will not necessarily be the same.

RUDIGER said it might even be possible to break the world record for distance sailed by a monohull over 24 hours: 530.19 nm by MoviStar, a Volvo 70, in April.

'That's an average of 22 knots,' RUDIGER said. 'It's unlikely in Transpac but possible. We'd need 20-25 [knots of wind] off the beam or a bit aft, and the more aft it goes the more wind we'd need.'

Transpac's 24 hour record is 356 miles by Pegasus 77 in 2003.

RUDIGER also expected these boats to approach squalls differently, rather than avoiding them for fear of falling into the vacuum behind them.

'Instead of ducking squalls for fear of being trapped, with this boat we can see a squall and say, 'Let's go for it,' ' he said

Genuine Risk's navigation station, designed by RUDIGER, may be the most sophisticated on any racing boat, but watch captain Ken READ cautions overplaying it.

'The tendency is to over-analyze rather than just sailing the boat,' READ said.

Squalls would be welcome in the middle of the race right now. Grant BALDWIN reported from the communications vessel Alaska Eagle that 'weather continues to be dismal with the leaders reporting wimpy trade winds in the ten to twelve knot range. Still no sun.'

A crew member on Mark SCHRADER's Cal 40 emailed: 'A week into the race, one thing is abundantly clear. The Cal 40 race record of around twelve and a half days is safe for another couple of years. [But] the more dire the weather, the better the creations emanating from skipper and cook Mark SCHRADER's galley: hot pancakes, hearty stews and, in an amazing performance on last night's watch, warm, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.'

'We stay hopeful that the trades will soon fill in and the great sailing we came here for still awaits. I mean, the weather guys can't always be wrong. Can they?'

Skipper Norm DAWLEY of Pursuit, a Custom 48 from Maryland that started Friday, wrote: 'This has been the easiest first few days of any Transpac I remember since 1967. It has been just cold, not cold and wet and windy. Tonight most of the crew is going without long johns and three or four layers over them, just fleece and foul weather gear, so it is getting warmer already. We might even get to see the sun tomorrow.'

John MACLAURIN's Davidson 52, Pendragon IV, and Paul EDWARDS' Catalina 42, Wind Dancer, became the second and third boats to retire.

Pendragon IV, which started Sunday, reported that it had a problem with its rod rigging. The mast was still up, but the boat might return to San Diego if it had trouble sailing upwind to its home port in Marina del Rey.

Wind Dancer, an Aloha B boat, lost its steering and was proceeding to Hawaii on auto-pilot, which is allowed only for double-handed boats.

Dan DOYLE and Bruce BURGESS on Two Guys In the Edge lost two hours but escaped disaster.

'As the sun came up [last Saturday morning] the rig looked very wobbly,' DOYLE wrote. 'On inspection the head strop that holds the headstay to the bow had failed and stretched about 40%. We turned to run with the wind, took a halyard forward as a temporary headstay and spent two hours rigging a new head strop. Once repaired, we turned back toward Hawaii.'

The boat closet to Hawaii was Ross PEARLMAN's Jeanneau 52, Between the Sheets, from Marina del Rey, just past halfway at 1,096 miles. The 58 foot yawl Odyssey was ten miles behind. Both boats are in Aloha A, which started 11 July. Between the Sheets won the class in 2003.

Rich Roberts. Image, Genuine Risk navigator Mark RUDIGER at his state of the art nav station:© UnderTheSunPhotos.com
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