That was the word from Pegasus 77 owner/skipper Philippe KAHN after Wednesday morning's position reports showed he had taken the lead from Roy E. Disney's R/P 75 Pyewacket in their Division.
Both boats suffered in winds lighter than usual. Grant BALDWIN on the communications vessel Alaska Eagle reported, "Weather conditions have deteriorated for the entire fleet. Trade winds are down, boat speeds are down . . . and fish count is down."
Pegasus 77 sailed only 265 miles in the previous 24 hours but that was 31 miles more than Pyewacket, which has endured the added pain of bearing south away from the rhumb (direct) line in search of stronger breeze. Pegasus 77 is now headed more directly toward the finish line 1,447 miles away, eight miles closer than Pyewacket in the 2,225-nautical race.
"We invested in the south and our investment is starting to pay off,"
Kahn said. "We are now ahead on all leader boards. But this is a long race and our competition is tough. We're not even halfway to Honolulu. This may be a race where the lead changes a few times more."
Although Kahn also noted that Pegasus 77's 24-hour average speed of 11.4 knots was "not bad for light air," it was far off Pyewacket's record pace of 12.4 knots over 7 1/2 days in 1999. At the moment Pegasus 77, the 2001 Barn Door winner, is projected to finish about two hours in front but about half a day off the record.
The unstable conditions are such that two smaller Transpac 52s sailing in better wind patterns had better days than Pyewacket. Division 2 leader Beau Geste, sailed by Hong Kong businessman Karl KWOK, logged 235 miles and Bill TURPIN's Alta Vita from San Francisco was second only to Pegasus 77 with 254.
Perhaps significant is that Stan and Sally HONEY's Cal 40, Illusion, regained the race's overall lead on corrected handicap time as it sailed farther south than any other boat except Andy SIBERT's Enchanted Lady, a Roberts 55 ketch from Seal Beach, Calif. that had the best day among the Aloha competitors with 173 miles.
Just slightly ahead of the big boats now after starting two days earlier on July 4, the smaller Division 3 and 4 boats continued to slog along as best they can. Earlier, Honolulu's Dan DOYLE, sailing the 1D35 Two Guys On the Edge with Bruce BURGESS, filed surprisingly upbeat e-mail reports via satellite.
"Now is the part of the race where Two Guys should begin to pick up the pace on the other boats,"
Doyle wrote. "The only case where that will be difficult is if we spend the entire race in light winds, making this a displacement/waterline race rather than a planing one. Time will tell."
We had an interesting day today with electronic problems continuing to plague the boat. We took on a lot of water right into the nav/electronic station, which has impacted our ability to use our radio effectively and has generally wreaked havoc throughout the boat. I spent virtually all day with Bruce driving and me crawling around the bilge trying to diagnose the problems.
The wind is blowing right down the rhumb, our fishing line is out and I am having a nice glass of red wine. All and all, not too bad of a day. For now, it's on to the south!"
Australian James NEILL's Super 30, The Cone of Silence, returned to Long Beach around midnight Tuesday after dropping out last Saturday. He was welcomed by Marina Shipyard operator Bud TRETTER with sandwiches and a case of beer---not quite the luau welcome customary at Waikiki but a great relief to family and friends back home who hadn't heard a word for three days and were in no mood to appreciate the boat's appropriate name.
"We are back safe and sound,"
Neill reported. "We were unable to get through to Alaska Eagle on bed check or today's [roll call] and would be grateful if you would pass on the message. Thanks for having us in your race. We hope to give it another try in 2005.
For the record, the reason we retired is the boat suffered damage to its jet drive doors due to operator error. In essence, we have a jet drive which sucks water up through a door and then out through another. Someone accidentally opened the cleat that holds the doors shut. This went unnoticed and eventually the water pressure coming in through the half-opening blew the back door off its hinges.
It took some time to notice the damage and frankly we couldn't work out why we were so slow. We tried to fix it in the water but just couldn't. It will take two minutes to fix on the crane.
Lastly, the radio earth [ground] was attached to the doors, which might have been the reason we were unable to reach Alaska Eagle today."