Pegasus 77 is Fabulous!

Date: Sunday, July 14th
Lat: 31 59 North
Lon: 128 05 West
Course over ground: 203 degrees magnetic
Speed over ground: 16 knots

Sharks do sleep!

Sharks do sleep!

We loved Pegasus when we won Transpac 2001. Since the finish of Transpac 2001 we put Pegasus in her Transpac 2003 mode. That meant taking out 7000 pounds of lead out of the bilge, having a 2500 pound heavier bulb, moving the head stay forward 4 ft, a much longer spinnaker pole (40+ft), a new and improved rudder and myriads of other changes. Of course we also have a whole suit of brand new sails. This is our practice run for Transpac 2003!

Now in Turbo mode, we are finding Pegasus 77 to be awesome. On-board we have helmsmen from the top three Volvo teams: Illbruck, Assa Abloy and Amer Sports One. And they all are amazed at how Pegasus 77 goes. The consensus is that this is the dream boat and the dream size. A dozen good sailors can push around the clock, there are no moving parts (swinging keels), pumps and tubes (water ballast), the rigging is super-simple (masthead) and she is as light as can be. No compromises. The result: She planes in 17 knots of wind and just takes off skipping waves in 20 knots. In 16 knots of wind, with the waves we clock ourselves close to wind speed and in 23 knots we’re doing 20 knots of boat speed. Unbelievable! Yet she can make it into every major Marina around the world. You can launch Pegasus 77 from pretty much any boat yard. It appears to all of us that bigger and more complex is not better. This Transpac 75 box rule is going make some of the most exciting boats in the world.

The North Eastern Pacific has to be the best place to sail in the world with the Southern Ocean. But it’s much warmer and there is a fantastic destination: Honolulu. Pegasus 77 is just the perfect boat.

By daybreak, given the caliber of the helmsmen competing for my 27.0-knot speed record, I have mixed feelings: On one hand, I want us to go as fast as we can. On the other hand, I am proud to have my record still standing. In reality, I’d be happy to give up my little record for a few boat lengths on the race course. After all this could be as close as one could get to the downwind helmsman championship of the world: Zan Drejes, Jeff Madrigali, Richard Clarke, Freddy Loof, Mark Rudiger and others. As we went through the night watches, we were saying how Pegasus 77 in the same conditions as Illbruck established the 24 hour speed record with over 480 nautical miles could have averages 1 to 2 knots more. That does put a smile on our faces. Shark loves it because in his 12 year old mind, what is more important than speed and adrenaline?

Morning Roll Call

Date: Saturday, July 13th
Lat: 35 47 North
Lon: 125 17 West
Course over ground: 18 degrees magnetic
Speed over ground: 19 knots

Mike and Doogie getting ready for a spinnaker change

Mike and Doogie getting ready for a spinnaker change

As day broke we all waited for the 9 am PST roll call. We had lost track of our competitors and had found good wind. Fundamentally their size should make them average 1 knot per hour more than Pegasus 77 for the boats to be sailed equally. In other words, every day they should put 24 nautical miles between us, for us to be sailing our boats with equal skills, hard work and luck.

When the position reports came in we were north of both Zephyrus and Mari-Cha, with Mari-Cha ahead of Zephyrus. Pegasus was bow to bow with Mari-Cha on a line of equal position to Hawaii. Wow, what a morale booster. So here we are 7 nautical Miles north tight reaching and we decided to make our move: We put up our 5A spinnaker, and headed down 30 degrees to leverage our northern position. We’ll have to wait until tomorrow morning to find out where that will put us. In these 25 knot reaching conditions, the bigger boats should be able to take full advantage of their waterline.

Surfing contests

With the wind picking up to 25 knots and the kite up, the surfing contests started. Shark loved the fact that we were now going downwind and he started eating all that he had skipped. The happy prankster comes out when the kite is up!

We kept trading records throughout the day. Freddy, Richard Clarke, Zan, Jeff and I. I was fortunate to find a big roller right when a 29 knot puff hit and off we went; first wave, 24 knots, second wave, 25.5 knots, third wave, a big one, 25, 26, 26.2 and then 27.0. That is the record of the day. I have no doubt that it will be broken soon. This is just fantastic extreme sailing. And it’s going to get warmer every day!

Shark is on the grinder and he’s got a big 12 year old smile on his face. He keeps on saying: “This is just like my 29er, but much bigger!”

P.S. Note how on the display next to Doogie and Mike’s picture, Boat speed equals wind speed. These boats are fantastic!!!!

A Thrilling Start!

A Thrilling Start to the Pacific Cup 2002

We started in 20 knots. Pegasus had the better start but with our water length disadvantage, by the time we got out of the Golden Gate, both Mari-Cha and Zephyrus were significantly ahead. When we crossed the Gate, we expected a right hand shift and we stayed right. Both Mari-Cha and Zephyrus tacked and went left. They went the wrong way. The wind shifted as we expected. After a couple of hours we crossed tacks again and Pegasus was clear ahead!

We had accomplished the impossible: we were now leading much larger racing yachts. We accomplished this through a combination of skill, teamwork and luck.

We were both lucky and the wind got light enough. It went back and forth a few times. We even got to call “Starboard” on Zephyrus and they had to bear away to avoid fouling us. All great fun as you can see from the PictureMails. First we got to pass Mari-Cha, then Zephyrus. A great morale booster for Pegasus Racing!

We know that both of these mega-yachts will pass us again. But it’s really nice to be sailing clear ahead of both of them as the sun goes down and we settle on our watch system.

Pacific Cup San Francisco Start

Pegasus won the start, but after 30 minutes as this PictureMail shows, Zephyrus and Mari Cha powered by us using their huge size advantage

Passing Mari-Cha 2.5 hours after the start

Passing Mari-Cha 2.5 hours after the start

Sailing in light air

Sailing in light air

Passing Zephyrus after 3.5 hours

Passing Zephyrus after 3.5 hours

Sailing with Zephyrus behind us after 4 hours

Sailing with Zephyrus behind us after 4 hours

By Midnight, the wind had evaporated. We are now drifting 10 miles south
of the Farallon islands, going nowhere fast. There is fog and we’ve lost
sight of both Zephyrus and Mari-Cha. They could be way ahead of us if
they kept on sailing in more wind. We’ll have to wait for the morning
position reports to know.

The weather charts tell us that we should see more wind after midnight.
We’re keeping our fingers crossed.

2am Update:

It is now 3 am, and we’ve been drifting for a few hours. We passed the Farallon Islands and it glassed out. We are just sitting in a wind hole, watching the fluorescence of the Ocean and checking out the playful seals around us. The Farallon Islands Marine Preserve has one of the highest concentrations of great white sharks in the world. So we’re looking for black fins, humming the theme for Jaws and hoping for wind.

We see lights in the distance, in the fog, glowing and a bit fuzzy reflected on the glassed out ocean surface. Some are fishing boats, but we fear that some of them could be the masthead lights of our competitors and we may not be ahead anymore. The smaller boats in particular could do very well in super-light conditions.

We’re waiting for the wind.

5:30 am: Just as suddenly as the wind disappeared, we got to the edge of the transition zone and a nice North Westerly 11 knot breeze settled in. Nice. Did our competition find the new wind before us?

Night before the start!

Pegasus Racing Pacific Cup 2002 Team Dinner

The night before the start there is great appreciation for a nice quality meal. Shark was in rare form. He just decided to drink coke out of a wine glass and have it show in the team picture above and get his Dad in trouble… Not he’s only 12 and is turning to be both a solid sailor and quite a prankster. (Zan’s head is hiding Shark’s right hand that is holding the glass… )

The start of the race will be in the changing tide. Every 12 hours or so the San Francisco alternatively fills with water and empties with water as the tides change. When the water is flowing into the Bay, from the Golden Gate, it is “flood tide” and when water is flowing out it is “ebb tide”. We will be starting at the beginning of an ebb tide, which means that the tide will help all boats pass through the Golden Gate.

On the starting line we’ll have 2 very large boats, Mari-Cha and Zephyrus, both much larger than we are and 3 smaller boats slightly smaller. We are used to competing in One-Design classes where all boats are created equal. So this incarnation of the Pacific Cup presents huge challenges for Pegasus Racing. We are on an impossible mission of beating giants. This should make this race a thriller. At least for us!

If my assistant Faye is able to snap a picture from a chase boat at the start, we will have the only PictureMail on this site not taken from our boat. We’ll still be using LightSurf technology to get it on the site promptly. For those who have sent me email about LightSurf’s Instant PictureMail technology, please wait a couple of months and you will be able to do your very own with new offerings from our partners at Sprint in the US.

Preparations and more Preparations!

Pegasus Racing Preparing for Pactific Cup 2002

Now is the time for last minute preparations: 13 hungry sailors will need to eat well, drink well, sleep as well as possible in order to perform. That’s a lot of planning because we don’t have refrigeration in order to save weight. In fact we carry very little water as we make water along the way with our Spectra watermaker. I personally like the pure water that comes out of the Spectra watermaker. But we need to supplement it with vitamins and minerals. It takes quite a bit of planning, because once we leave the dock, there are no stores until Honolulu!

Wednesday July 10th: Weather and Competition

Weather and CompetitionWe have a strong high pressure system building which should make for a good race.

Forecasting precisely passed 3 days is challenging. That is one of the challenges of Pacific Cup: Being good enough meteorologists and strategists to take full advantage of changing weather patterns. We will be on the ocean for more than 7 full days of racing and much will change in the Eastern Pacific meteorology.

For Pacific Cup we have a very strange race where Pegasus 77 is pitched against significantly larger boats. Not exactly level-field competition. The new Zephyrus is 86 feet long and Mari-Cha is 147 feet long!!! So the Pegasus team has a challenge!