Sunday, July 29, 2012

SOAKING IT UP AT THE KANEOHE YACHT CLUB

For more than a third of the 2012 Pac Cup fleet, the race is over and recovery underway at the Kaneohe Yacht Club. While results are not yet official, the clear winner this year is Andy Costello’s J125 Double Trouble, finishing in 7 days, 23:42:44. The victory is particularly sweet for Costello as it’s his first-ever Pac Cup. He was stoked to reap the benefits of two+ years he’s put into optimizing his boat. Costello also hand picked a crew with the right chemistry to get the job done - fast.

“We sailed to Hawaii in under 8 days on a 40-footer,” Costello said, “That’s pretty good! I know it’s an extremely fast time for the size boat. It was really windy and the conditions were really suited for the boat and of course Skip (McCormack) called a perfect navigational race. We had five extremely good drivers - at night there was no horizon, no moon and plenty of clouds so you’re not driving by sight - it’s all feel and you had better know what you are doing. We didn’t have to slow down; we just went as fast as we could possibly go during the night. We were changing our drivers out every two hours so there was always someone driving the boat at full capacity. It keeps the pace on. We got to the point about 2-3 days before the end of the race where we felt good enough that we could put it into a slower gear or we could have probably finished the race 8-9 hours faster. But there was no need to break anything or blow the boat up before we got here.”

Costello said they had breeze in the lower 20s for most of the race, and for them, that was based on putting the boat in the right position on the course.

“I think a lot of the guys who stayed higher than us didn’t get as much breeze as we did because we dove south and because of that we were able to stay in the pressure and get around everybody. We sailed a lot more miles than everybody else but we still got here faster. It was awesome. Warrior is another J/125; we beat him by 250 miles - just shows that we’ve done everything to get the boat going like this. Trevor (Baylis) has designed the sails for the boat - the spinnaker is not like a normal sail - we really developed everything to make the boat faster and faster over the past few years. It’s a whole other level and I think we can win some more races with it.”

The other two crew on board Double Trouble are Jody McCormack and Matt Noble.

By 2pm Sunday, more than a third of the fleet had finished and were either dockside at the Kaneohe Yacht Club or making their way across Kaneohe Bay to KYC. All Div. E boats have finished, as well as Spellbound, Andromeda, Jamani, Moonshine, Hula Girl, Sapphire, Hana Ho, Kotu, Swazik,

Icon, the Perry 66 owned by Kevin Welch of Anacortes, WA was the first boat to finish in 7 days, 16:33:34. The race was both the first time he’d taken the boat offshore, and a first Pac Cup for he and his wife Jenny and their two sons, Christian (17) and Eric (14).

Said Welch, “We deliberately ran a very conservative race given that we had the family aboard and that the entire experience of navigating offshore, the routing, squalls etc. was new to us. It’s always difficult being the fastest boat in the fleet - the first few days were very painful for us in that we just didn’t have any wind and we knew the boats behind had considerably more wind than we did. It made it just about impossible for us to sail to our handicap. We did the best we could in very light winds for the first part of the race. We also encountered significant marine debris including a large floating dock which caused us to maybe throttle back a little bit.”

Welch said that his kids did about 20 hours each steering the boat, with Eric taking their onboard speed record. He also discovered Icon is not a such a comfortable ride offshore. “It’s a carbon sled and the ride is very violent - you can’t stand up inside really when you get rolling or you get slammed from side to side and if you go over quickly you’re airborne.” Maybe not the best environment for a family vacation but one that Welch says his kids, who loved it, will always remember.

The Antrim Class 40 California Condor, owned by “Buzz” Blackett III, was fifth to finish in 8 days, 17:10:13.

“We had a fun race and an exciting race but it was disappointing because we had to throttle back about two thirds of the way (around the 5th night) after we got hit with a squall which we were managing just fine until the wind went from 27 knots to 37 knots instantaneously. We bore off and put the bow into a wave and brought the green water up to the instrument level at the boom, blew up the kite and discovered later a possible delaminated stringer forward as well as a hairline crack and stretched D3. At that point we throttled back until Jim (Antrim) and Paul (Cronin) could fashion a ring frame that they made out of one of our floorboards that got strapped in place to stabilize the stringer and tightened up the D3 but we nursed the boat from that point forward.”

Blackett, on his third Pac Cup, found this race windier and much more exciting than before. “We sailed a more rhumb line course in 2010 but this was I think the shortest course I’ve sailed. Our strategy was to go south at the point where we could get the kite up and go fast and we didn’t quite as far south as Double Trouble and that southerly position for them really paid dividends.”

For current standings and finishes, visit: http://www.pacificcup.org/reports

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