Pegasus 70 BoatBio Pacific Cup 2000

US Nationals in San Diego, Pegasus 24 gets a good start race 8, finishing 7th.

US Nationals in San Diego,
Pegasus 24 gets a good start race 8, finishing 7th.

Class: Crewed Division: H Pacific Cup Rating: -117 Make and Type: Andrews 70+ Rig: Sloop LOA: 69 Sail Number: USA 46269 Hull Color: White

Hailing Port: Honolulu, HI, Waikiki Yacht Club

Skipper: Philippe Kahn

Navigator: Mark Rudiger

Crew:: Nic Clarke, Marco Constant, Greg Prusia, Adam Beashel, Curtis Blewett, Jack Halterman, Jon Gundersen, Kevin Miller, Brent Ruhne, Morgan Larson

Photo showing Pegasus 70 passing the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, on her way to the barn door trophy, Pacific Cup 2000.

Saturday July 22nd

Position: Latitude: 21 50 North Longitude: 155 55 West, Course Over Ground: 237 true, Speed Over Ground: 14 knots

Skipper’s notes: The Sun, the Moon and the Stars gave us a mesmerizing show for the last sunrise of this race. The night was soft and moderately windy. Just enough to go fast and not enough to make gibing maneuvers too tricky. We looked at the Big Dipper, found the little Dipper, Polaris and the “Great Square of Pegasus.” There was a hole in the cloud cover that allowed us to see the whole Pegasus constellation. A good omen. A great story too. Here is how it goes: After Perseus’ victory over Medusa, he took to the air to present his prize, Medusa’s head wrapped in a sack, to Athena. On the way some of the blood from the Medusa’s severed head dripped out of the sack and fell into the Ocean. Poseidon fell madly in love with Medusa when she was a beautiful maiden, before she was turned into a monster so hideous that a glance of her would turn anyone into stone. A nostalgic Poseidon raised her drops of blood from the Ocean. Then he mixed them with white foam from the dancing waves and white sand from the beach. Out of this mixture of waves, wind and sand Poseidon created Mighty Pegasus, the Winged Horse. Pegasus flew up to join the gods on Mt Olympus, and was caught by the goddess Athena, daughter of Zeus. Athena tamed Pegasus with a golden bridle. Years later, Athena made her beloved Pegasus, the Mighty Winged Horse, into a bright and beautiful constellation. As I am writing this early afternoon log, we’re checking in 100 miles out from the finish line. I think that We are the first boat to check in. From roll-call this morning we know that we now have pushed our competition significantly behind. That’s because we were able to get some separation from them in the last 24 hours. We find ourselves ahead of them and out to the right of the race course where the classic wind shifts should increase our lead significantly throughout the evening. If the wind holds up we should finish before midnight. The stretch of the Pacific Ocean that we just sailed is the longest stretch on earth without land.

Friday July 21st

Position: Latitude: 22 25 North Longitude: 152 57 West, Course Over Ground: 256 true, Speed Over Ground: 13 knots

Skipper’s notes: Pegasus flew right through the night. With great speed and smarts the mighty Pegasus executed the second phase of our plan. If you remember, in the first phase of this race, after finding some very light winds, Pegasus went all the way South to be the first boat to the tradewinds, sailing more miles, but betting that we would make it up with boat speed once we found the stronger winds. A gambit that really paid off. The second phase of our plan was to surprise our competitors and come back with great speed across their course line, ahead of them, in order to position ourselves between them and the finish line. To get the effect of surprise we wanted the competition thinking that we were committed to being the most Southward boat. This is all of course easier said than done. In order to place ourselves between the competition and the finish line, we needed to gibe on the wind shifts throughout the night. When the wind is blowing 20 knots in the pitch black night it takes perfect crew work and great timing to execute these complex maneuvers. I must say that the team is doing an absolute fantastic job: We executed half a dozen gibes flawlessly, while surfing down the North Pacific waves at night. After the first couple of gibes, it became routine and simple process and we continued to gibe on the wind shifts throughout the day. We are still more than 24 hours from the finish line and a lot can still happen. But so far so good, everything is working out as planned. Knock on wood. There is a big part of offshore sailboat racing that is like playing chess. Pegasus may now have the upper hand. We’ll get confirmation soon enough as the finish line is so close. For now, sailing is incredibly pleasant. Perfect. Strong trade winds that challenge our steering skills into a dance with the waves. Classic North Pacific trade wind sailing. As Pegasus’ hull slices through the waves while schools of flying fish fly away, making 100+ feet flights out of the water. Flying fish have developed the skill of flight to escape predators. To the flying fish, Pegasus is a giant 70 feet carbon fiber predator with huge wings: Better get out of the way fast. I think that the first sign of the Islands came with a glimpse of a few dolphins that looked like they were chasing tuna. Wherever there are big schools of tuna, there are dolphins. That’s because to our dolphin friends, these schools of tuna are a giant “all you can eat sushi bar.” Which brought back discussions of food among the team: After eating freeze dried meals for a week what is going to be our first stop? Well almost invariably, everyone says “Fresh Sushi.” Heck if we could have caught a female flying fish, we could have had Tobiko, which is flying fish row. Then again, Greg could have caught my friend the mermaid and he could have even gotten his socks back! The color of the water has now notably changed to emerald blue. At sundown we’re focusing on getting to the finish line as fast as we can and trying to keep any competitors from passing us. Pegasus is taking flight for the night through windy squalls and surfing down giant waves. Go Pegasus, go!…..

Greg and Brent doing a spinnaker peel change

Greg and Brent doing a spinnaker peel change

Huge spinnaker flying!

Huge spinnaker flying!

The color of the water has changed. ephoto by Brent, from the top of the mast.  Friday July 21st  Position: Latitude: 22 25 North Longitude: 152 57 West, Course Over Ground: 256 true, Speed Over Ground: 13 knots  Skipper's notes: Pegasus flew right through the night. With great speed and smarts the mighty Pegasus executed the second phase of our plan. If you remember, in the first phase of this race, after finding some very light winds, Pegasus went all the way South to be the first boat to the tradewinds, sailing more miles, but betting that we would make it up with boat speed once we found the stronger winds. A gambit that really paid off. The second phase of our plan was to surprise our competitors and come back with great speed across their course line, ahead of them, in order to position ourselves between them and the finish line. To get the effect of surprise we wanted the competition thinking that we were committed to being the most Southward boat. This is all of course easier said than done. In order to place ourselves between the competition and the finish line, we needed to

The color of the water has changed.
ephoto by Brent, from the top of the mast.
Friday July 21st
Position: Latitude: 22 25 North Longitude: 152 57 West, Course Over Ground: 256 true, Speed Over Ground: 13 knots
Skipper’s notes: Pegasus flew right through the night. With great speed and smarts the mighty Pegasus executed the second phase of our plan. If you remember, in the first phase of this race, after finding some very light winds, Pegasus went all the way South to be the first boat to the tradewinds, sailing more miles, but betting that we would make it up with boat speed once we found the stronger winds. A gambit that really paid off. The second phase of our plan was to surprise our competitors and come back with great speed across their course line, ahead of them, in order to position ourselves between them and the finish line. To get the effect of surprise we wanted the competition thinking that we were committed to being the most Southward boat. This is all of course easier said than done. In order to place ourselves between the competition and the finish line, we needed to

Thursday July 20th

Position: Latitude: 23 14 North Longitude: 147 10 West, Course Over Ground: 297 true, Speed Over Ground: 13 knots

Skipper’s notes: Fly Pegasus fly!….. Dance with the wind and the waves!…. Fly Pegasus fly!….. A perfect day. A Perfect night: Warm, fast, completely enjoyable. On board, I am now also Mark Rudiger’s apprentice navigator. What better master than Mark. After all, Mark was the Navigator for the last winning Volvo/Whitbread challenge: “EF Language” working with Paul Cayard to dominate the whole race. Mark has been across the Pacific 14 times, including single handed. Mark has done single handed trans-Atlantic races in both directions. I personally consider Mark the best in the world. Bar none. Check out Mark’s website at http://www.teamrudiger.com . On-board Pegasus, When we navigate, we use computers, communications satellites as well as several GPS systems. By training I am a technologist, so all these on-board digital tools are second nature to me. But there is one navigation tool that fascinates me more than any other one: The sextant. Amazing, a simple optical and mechanical device that combined with a good watch can tell us with great accuracy where we are in the world. Basically I’m fascinated with low tech devices like the sextant that produce great high tech answers and will still function when all the AA batteries on the planet are used up and all the orbiting satellites have stopped operating. Not that this will ever happen. Navigating by the stars, the planets and the Sun is a noble art that we can’t collectively forget. Like fencing, archery or handwriting. Let’s note that the Ancient Polynesians we’re even a step ahead, making long passages across the Pacific without a compass or a clock and pinpointing remote islands with astounding precision. The ancient art of navigation of the Polynesians was almost lost when a revival movement started a couple of decades ago. I see the sextant in a similar light. A noble tradition that must live-on. Like music and fine arts. Today, Mark started showing me his sextant and how to “shoot the Sun.” Which in “Sextant Language” means measuring as precisely as possible the position of the Sun above the horizon. A couple of ephotos show Mark and his precious sextant. So as the Sun was going down, on-board the mighty Pegasus we were talking about the huge size of our 38 feet spinnaker pole: That’s bigger than many boats entered in this race! It sticks out 18 feet in front of the forestay. It allows us to carry huge spinnakers that give Pegasus the power of flight in the pitch dark night. Later, in a couple of hours, the Moon will rise, then the Sun and in the daylight we will know how fast we sailed. Fly, Pegasus fly!….

Mark setting up his sextant

Mark setting up his sextant

Mark takes a sextant site

Mark takes a sextant site

Downwind with a large spinnaker and a staysail

Downwind with a large spinnaker and a staysail

The Pegasus huge 38ft spinnaker pole

The Pegasus huge 38ft spinnaker pole

 

Wednesday July 19th

Position: Latitude: 24 14 North Longitude: 142 08 West, Course Over Ground: 243 true, Speed Over Ground: 12 knots

Skipper’s notes: Pegasus sailed fast all night. I was on deck most of the night. Beautiful night sailing. Barefoot, surfing down the big Pacific swells. Pegasus is like a giant 70 feet carbon windsurfer. The huge spinnaker and mainsail power her up the back of the big waves and then we accelerate down the face of the wave, bailing out before we reach the bottom of the next wave. We then use our momentum and the lifting power of our sails to surf the next wave. I spent the night steering, trimming the main, the spinnaker, grinding, then steering again. Throughout the night the two watches alternate. Because we are racing, life is very regimented. At sunrise Brent was steering I was trimming and pumping the mainsail for him. Gundy was trimming the spinnaker and Greg was grinding the spinnaker sheet. I went to sleep for an hour. We all have different sleeping patterns. In general I find that I can sleep more deeply offshore and that I only need about three to five hours of sleep in small increments for every 24 hours. Something that comes handy for single handed racing, but that is also very helpful with a team of 12. Mark sat in through roll-call, the process by which all 70 boats in the race report their individual position daily on the single side band radio. At 10:30 am, Mark woke me up with a big smile on his face: “Our strategy to go deep South and sail more miles to find more wind sooner already paid off: Pegasus averaged 1.5 knots more than her closest competitor throughout the last 24 hours. From 25 miles behind, we are now 8 Miles ahead.” Nice. Very nice. There is still a long race ahead of us, but we are now in a position to be first to finish, our goal for this race. Pegasus is now 880 miles from the finish line in Hawaii. Marco Constant took notice of this fact, and decided to organize a betting pool: Each one of us gets to bet on three ETAs to Hawaii. We each put up $10 per ETA for a total jackpot of $360, winner takes all. The most optimistic bet is Friday the 21st at 23:00 HST and the most pessimistic one is Tuesday the 25th at 08:00 HST. Mine are stacked between Saturday 01:00 and Sunday 01:00. As I was writing my log tonight I received an email from our friend Mike Field, Hawaiian sailing canoe skipper extraordinaire. Mike was telling me that he was sea-trialing our brand new Hawaiian catamaran outside of our home by Diamond Head and that they were happily sailing in 25 to 30 knots. It then dawned on me that the twelve of us sailing these fast modern giant carbon ultra light displacement machines are not much different from our ancient Polynesian relatives, criss-crossing the Pacific a thousand years ago with super fast catamarans. The same Ocean, the same trade winds, the same swells to surf, the same exhilarating speeds. Mike attached a nice card that he designed to his message. Nice art Mike! It sure looks like the sheer cliffs of Kaneohe Bay and “China Men’s Hat Island.” Can’t wait to be there! On-board the mighty Pegasus the night has now settled in, the winds are blowing steadily at 15 knots, we think that they’ll pick up later. We may still have a small chance to set a new record. The time to beat is 7 days, 22 hours, 1 minute set in 1996. We’re racing Rage for their record. Nice turn of events: We went from a very slow race to a slight chance of a record! For that to happen well need the winds to pick up to an average of 20 knots and clock 15 degrees. We’ve seen stranger thing before. Still no sign of Greg’s socks.

Brent steering at Sunrise

Brent steering at Sunrise

Marco setting up the ETA betting pool

Marco setting up the ETA betting pool

Marco's Betting Pool Sheet

Marco’s Betting Pool Sheet

Mike's Aloha Art

Mike’s Aloha Art

 

Tuesday July 18th

Position: Latitude: 26 19 North Longitude: 135 58 West, Course Over Ground: 240 true, Speed Over Ground: 12.5 knots

Skipper’s notes: As Monday evening wound down, we seemed surrounded by squalls and rainbows. As the moon rose, we all got to marvel at a “moon rainbow.” A moon rainbow is formed just like a “normal rainbow,” except that the droplets in the squalls are decomposing moon beams rather than sun beams and projecting the resulting image against the sky. But because moon beams are reflections of sun beams on the surface of the moon, and because that reflection accentuates certain pale color components, the qualities of a Moon Rainbow feel very mysterious. To some spiritual. To me strange and interesting. We tried to snap ephotos, but when looking at the ephotos they appeared completely dark, adding to the strangeness and the mystery. Some in the team were starting to wonder whether we’d all now been at sea too long, wishing for more wind, flirting with mermaids and looking for Greg’s lost socks? As this spectacular evening progressed and we headed South-West the winds started picking up again. All night we sailed at an average of 8 knots, giving up distance to Hawaii for a lower latitude in order to find the trades sooner. When the sun rose we saw a few more rainbows. Today, Tuesday, is Jack Halterman’s Birthday and we happened to snap an ephoto of Jack with a rainbow in the background. I played a little piccolo for Jacks Birthday. Happy Birthday Jack. Jack is the elder and in many cases “adult supervision” on Pegasus. Most of the team is in their early twenties to early thirties. Jack’s experience is invaluable he ties with Mark at 14 for the most Trans-Pacific crossings onboard. Personally this is my third crossing. I find each completely different. By the end of the day our strategy of giving up distance to Hawaii for a lower more favorable latitude was still more theory than local reality. Would we find stronger winds soon enough? Around 2 PM the wind started clocking to the right and strengthening. By 4PM we were seeing a steady 15 knots and by 7 pm up 18 knots. We are in the trades. We’re over the ridge! We are now sailing fast almost straight to Hawaii. We are in a drag race with our competitors who stayed North and decided to sail less miles. Our theory is that they will see less pressure and that we will make up the difference in distance with boat speed. If Pegasus can sail in average 1/2 a knot faster than the competition for 3 days our strategy will have proven successful. Meanwhile we are having problems with our engine recharging our batteries. Something is wrong with one of the alternators. Most race boats run their a couple of times a day to recharge batteries that are used for computers, wind instruments and navigation. The engine is also used to run the on-board water maker that turns Ocean water into pure fresh water by pressurizing it through a special filter membrane comprised of millions of microscopic holes. Water makers and electronics are key to modern day sailboats. (Of course the engine is run with the prop in neutral.) Mark woke up Nic who was sleeping “in his shades” (our third ephoto) Our fourth ephoto shows Mark Rudiger and Nic Clarke hard at work on the engine while we are sailing downwind. Our two last ephotos show Pegasus taking flight at dusk over the large trade swells of the North Pacific. In the morning when we get position reports, we’ll start having an indication of how all the boats in the race are doing. We will sail as fast as we can all night!

Happy Birthday Jack!

Happy Birthday Jack!

Jack's Birthday Serenade

Jack’s Birthday Serenade

Pipe Dreams with Sun Shades

Pipe Dreams with Sun Shades

Mark and Nic working on the engine

Mark and Nic working on the engine

Trades at dusk

Trades at dusk

Surfing down the waves at dusk

Surfing down the waves at dusk

 

Monday July 17th

Position: Latitude: 29 01 North Longitude: 132 21 West, Course Over Ground: 210 true, Speed Over Ground 7 knots

Skipper’s notes: Getting over the ridge is turning out to be tougher than we thought. Its like climbing a steep ridge to get to the other side. But this particular ridge is very steep. Which in sailing terms translates into low wind speeds and slow boat speed. This is compounded by the fact that an unusual low pressure system developed just North and West of us. Drifting along is not exactly what a racing team wants to do, so we had a team meeting. Everyone had an opportunity to give input and we built consensus: “Heading towards the South and sailing more miles to find the trades is the way to go.” But how many more miles? What are the trade-offs? Sailing into that low pressure system is not an option as we would find nothing but light and variable winds. This seems straightforward, but is not that simple when the direct bearing to Hawaii is 242 degrees and we are going to sometimes sail away from Hawaii in order to find the trades sooner. The GPS, as a very clever “dumb machine,” finds this counter-intuitive too: Going from and ETE (Estimated Time Enroute) of less than 5 days to one that shows more than 20 days! For a few hours we sailed South and sometimes East of South. Later we found more breeze. However, around noon, right behind a rain squall, we hit an area that was totally calm. We had been talking about our tale of mermaids, and I decided that with a boat speed of less than 2 knots this would be a good time to dive from Pegasus’ bow, swim along the port side, look for that elusive mermaid and climb back up on the stern. Looking at the charts, depth in that location was more than 12,500 feet. Away from the coasts, any form of direct urban pollution, the water is perfectly pure and of a very deep blue color. What better diving platform than Pegasus? The first ephoto shows Morgan and Gundy incredulously watching me chase the mermaid under water. Our second ephoto shows the view that our mermaid and I had of Pegasus and how clear it is that Pegasus belongs in Honolulu. (While all of this was happening, I had the privilege of making this mermaid’s acquaintance) The last ephoto shows me telling the team (with Adam laughing incredulously) that I had a discussion with the mermaid and that she told me that she had not seen Greg’s socks. (I actually told her to stay away from Greg as he’d cut her up and turn her into Sushi!) More seriously, I can’t describe with words the sensation of being able to swim in the middle of the Pacific. To me it is similar to getting first tracks snowboarding or skiing in virgin knee-deep powder. If you haven’t tried, you should. That’s because every year that you don’t try it, is one year less that you will get to do it! This was a decisive and eventful day on the North Pacific.

I can't believe he did that!

I can’t believe he did that!

The mermaid seeing Honolulu bound sailors looking bewildered.

The mermaid seeing Honolulu bound sailors looking bewildered.

Adam acknowledging the fact that I met a with the mermaid

Adam acknowledging the fact that I met a with the mermaid

 

 

Sunday July 16th

Position: Latitude: 30 50 North Longtitude: 130 10 West, Course Over Ground: 240 magnetic, Speed Over Ground 8 knots

Skipper’s notes: This was a beautiful night of sailing again. The weather has been nice all along. There is something magical about having the full moon light up the big waves of the Pacific Ocean. As the night came to an end, the wind decreased from 20 knots to less than 10 knots. We were getting closer to “the ridge.” So what is “the ridge” anyway? Think of the Pacific High as a mountain top centered 400 to 800 nautical miles from San Francisco with a ridge extending from the top South-East towards San Diego To get to Hawaii we all racers must get over the ridge. Before the ridge, winds get lighter, after the ridge the North Pacific trades carry you right to Hawaii. On the ridge everything is possible. So the strategy is to find the optimal slot to cross the ridge. Our bet was that that spot was South. We should be getting to the other side of the ridge during the night. On the other side of the ridge we’ll find the North Pacific trade winds, the same winds that carried the big clipper ships from San Francisco to China 100 years ago. Tactically Mark Rudiger, our navigator extraordinaire, played our hand well: Getting out of the Golden Gate we remained right of Taxi Dancer and Rage. Immediately after the sunset, we sneaked down to the South of Taxi Dancer and Rage in the darkness. This paid off and today we were clearly ahead. Tomorrow we will know which “slot” each one of us picked to get over the ridge. A few ephotos of life abord today: Full moon during the night, Curtis going up the mast for a spinnaker change, Curtis in the Galley, and Mark picking up a satellite image…

Full Moon

Full Moon

Curtis climbing up the mast

Curtis climbing up the mast

Curtis in the Galley

Curtis in the Galley

Mark working with the satellite images

Mark working with the satellite images

 

 

 

Saturday July 15th

Position: Lat: 32 55 North Lon: 127 36 West, Course Over Ground: 200 true, Speed Over Ground 13 knots

Skipper’s notes: Great night of sailing: 20 to 30 kts of breeze all night. We went fast. The Pegasus team is Going South as fast as we can in order to avoid being too close to the Pacific High. Towards the center of the Pacific High Pressure zone, there is no wind. So the game is to not get too close to the Pacific High while not sailing too many extra miles. Therefore, in order to get faster to Hawaii, we are sailing more distance South so that we can sail faster later. We believe that sailing North would be a short term gain but a long term loss. In other words if we are right, tomorrow we’ll appear to have lost ground to any race boat sailing more direct course to Hawaii, but three days from now we should be considerably ahead of them. We are all playing chess with each other and we’ll know soon enough who is right. In order to go fast, Pegasus is all made out of ultra light and strong carbon fiber with giant 39 ft long spinnaker poles . We all work extra hard to keep everything light and fast. That’s because we want all that wind energy to get translated into boat speed, not furniture and gear displacement. So 3 t-shirts, one pair of shoes, a toothbrush for each of the 12 crew. That’s it. And the rule is: Anything that is left lying around gets automatically tossed over board. No exceptions. So when Marco Constant found Greg Prusia’s drenched wet socks lying around, they were headed overboard. The ephoto above shows Greg and Marco arguing a bit….. When I asked Greg: “What would you do if a mermaid suddenly showed up and brought back your drenched socks?” Greg’s answer was: “I’ll get my socks first, then I’ll catch the mermaid and cut her up and make Sushi!” That shows how hungry we all are and reminds us that the food that we eat is only as good as what we cook onboard. More on that later…Our second photo shows Morgan smiling in front our of our almost 100 ft carbon mast! Our last picture shows some crew work in 25 knots of breeze with a spinnaker and a staysail up.

Fighting over a sock!

Fighting over a sock!

Morgan and our 100ft carbon mast

Morgan and our 100ft carbon mast

25 knots of breeze with a spinnaker and a staysail up

25 knots of breeze with a spinnaker and a staysail up

 

 

Friday July 14th

Position: Lat: 37 33 North Lon: 123 10 West, Course Over Ground: 230 true, Speed Over Ground 12 knots

Skipper’s notes: We won the start and gained an advantage on both “Taxi Dancer” and “Rage,” our main competitors. As we headed out of the Golden Gate we got in phase with the wind shifts, crossed a few tacks with Taxi Dancer and stretched. Four hours into the race passed the Farallons we’ve already lost sight of them. The wind is stiffer than forecasted and we are in a nice right shift. The team did a fantastic job with sail changes and precise crew work. The watch system started an hour ago. We are all settling into the rhythm of the wind and the waves. At 7:45 ST we are seeing 19 knots of wind speed at a magnetic angle of 314 degrees. Life is good! Mark is filing audio reports on www.teamrudiger.com !

Adam at the Farrallon Islands

Adam at the Farrallon Islands

Upwind out of the Gate

Upwind out of the Gate