Pegasus wins 2003 Coastal Cup, sets new course record by 6.5 hours, registers boat speeds in excess of 30 knots and beats Pyewacket!

Pegasus 77 blasting down the waves.

Coastal Cup 2003 Skipper’s Log

Competitors: Pyewacket
Designer: Reichel-Pugh 77
Sail number: 50008
Rig: Sloop LOA (ft.): 77
Draft (ft): 12.5 Beam (ft): 15
Hull color: White / Blue
Yacht Club: Waikiki Yacht Club, St. Francis Yacht Club
Designer: Reichel Pugh
Builder: McConaghy, Sydney, Australia
Year launched: 2001, turbo-charged in May 2003

Skipper: Philippe Kahn

Navigator: Philippe Kahn, standing in for Mark Rudiger who is presently racing across the Atlantic
Watch Captain 1: Mark Christensen
Watch Captain 2: Morgan Larson
Crew: Zan Drejes, Samuel “Shark” Kahn, Sean “Doogie” Couvreux, Mo Hart, Jeff Madrigali, Mark Christensen, Brian Ledbetter, Mike Mottl, Morgan Larson, Steve Erickson, Marco Constant, Stu Bettany

Sunday, June 15: 13:45 Update

The race committee verified that they haven’t heard from Pyewacket yet (we hope that they are all safe), and that Pegasus broke the course record by 6.5 hours! (the course record was held before that by Larry Ellison’s Sayonara and the Alan Andrews designed Medicine Man). That must have been one of the most epic races. So short and yet so much happened. What a nice way to set the mono hull record from San Francisco to Santa Catalina (Los Angeles). This was the first time that we lined up again with Pyewacket after our victorious Transpac 2001. Now we need to dry up all the gear and get ready for Transpac 2003. More than 30 knots of boat speed!!!! Wow!

Post Scriptum: Pyewacket retired from the race after reporting a position over 5 hours behind Pegasus. We’ve competed with Pyewacket twice and have a perfect scorecard. It will be a challenge to maintain that score during Transpac. Although we beat them in 2001 they are the holders of the record, therefore favored to win. We’ll need to get lucky again. But it seems that the harder the Pegasus Racing team works, the luckier we get!

After the wildest and wettest rides, drying up at the dock in San Pedro

Sunday, June 15th: 12:40

After a night of epic sailing with boat-speeds well in excess of 30 knots, as we approach Santa Catalina Island at Arrow Point the wind is very light. We went from holding on to our lives at 30 knots of boat speed with winds gusting to 40 at 315 degrees magnetic to 4 knots this morning at 175 degrees magnetic sailing along with the code zero at 6 knots of boat speed yes, 50% faster than the wind). What a fabulous ride and what a great Father’s Day. Nice to have had Shark there. He’s got stories to tell now for a lifetime, with speed, breaking waves, huge endless surfs through multiple waves. Maybe most of all a great team of friends and super-star sailors.

We crossed the finish line at 12:24:55 PM and a record run we are told. We haven’t heard of our competitor yet. There is no way that they could have passed us. We now know that we made the right calls and sailed very well. What a team! We didn’t have a single crash all night and we went the right way. Nice race team Pegasus Racing!

After a wild, fast, and wet night, light air sailing towards the finish line, upwind, in the Catalina eddy. We made the right call!


Sunday, June 15th: 06:30

It was a wild, windy and wet night. Fast and furious. With the full moon, sailing was outstanding, but quite extreme. The kind of stuff that great memories are made of. With the full moon, the big waves looked like silver mountains with the glitter of snow and ice. That was quite a sight. Around sunrise on the starboard side, there was a setting full moon and on the port side the rising sun. Quite a sight! I’m personally exhausted from steering the boat for a total of 7.5 hours since the start of the race, but can’t sleep with all that adrenaline pumping. By 5:30 am the wind had lightened up to 10 knots with the remains of the swell from last night, make “the waves much bigger than the wind”. It was time to make some rapid sail changes and avoid being stuck in the wind shadow of one of the Channel Islands. But Pyewacket is nowhere in sight this morning. Where are they? Did they pass us when we got into the lighter winds? We’re going to significantly over stand, anticipating that weak Catalina eddy. It goes against the forecasts, but the different buoy reports around the LA area seem to indicate that this is the weather scenario that is unfolding.

Full moon setting right by Mo's head on starboard

Sunrise on port. Where is Pyewacket? Did we leave them in the dust?

Saturday, June 14th: 22:00

Dusk and its windy and wet. Flying in the darkness at 25 kts sustained, the adrenaline is pumping

Pyewacket jibed and we jibed. But, now with the darkness and the big waves, we can’t see them anymore. Last we saw them, they were several miles behind. We’re both flying down the waves towards Point Conception. Point Conception, The Cape Horne of the West Coast is 60 nautical miles out and bearing 80 degrees magnetic. Now the challenge is going to be to get through the channel Islands without hitting a wind hole. Peter Isler and Robbie Haines, are both natives of the LA area. How will we stop them from passing us with all of their local knowledge. Mark Rudiger, we miss you! We have to sail fast through the night. Our decision is to stay out in the big breeze and over stand the islands significantly, anticipating much lighter winds and a weak Catalina eddy. Fly Pegasus fly!

Its hard work trimming down every wave in the big breeze.

Saturday June 14th: 20:30 Update

Fast driving at sunset. Very wet and wild. The wind is gusting to 37kts and the seas are huge. We exploded a kite, but were still doing 22kts with main and stay sail alone. Steered the boat for one hour and in these conditions that is about as long as you want to drive. We saw Pyewacket lose a kite. They are about 5 miles behind now from what we can tell. Soon, we’ll lose sight of them as it get dark. This is going to be a wild night. Update on the speed records: Steve: 30.4, Mike: 30.2, Morgan: 30.2, Crusty: 29.8, Philippe: 29.7 kts. Now I’m going to spend a little time trying to switch the computer system around in order to get our navigation software up and running. That will let me dry out a bit. This is clearly record setting pace. We averaged 22 kts over the last 2 hours. Its amazing how well Pegasus 77 handles in these extreme conditions, she just planes down the face of huge waves at a constant heel angle. And we get tossed around by a rogue roller, she just recovers beautifully. That’s a tribute to our great designers Reichel-Pugh. We are going to be jibing in the next 30 minutes as we are on the lay line for Point Conception.

Saturday, June 14th: 17:25

The lead went back and forth for a while as Pyewacket put on a bigger kite than Pegasus. Then as we sailed over them and rolled them in a very tight with a good puff, they tried to match our angle and broached and got all tangled up for a while. That was our opportunity to start stretching. It’s a long race and anything can happen. They have an edge with one of the best navigators in the world. We have a good solid team and we sail together competitively a lot.

In the big breeze we have stretched on Pyewacket, Morgan in the foreground


Saturday, June 14th: 15:00

Well as I was the navigator on this race I figured that we’d keep it simple and instead of using the 4 redundant laptops, we’d just use one. Normally these laptops are networked, but unfortunately I tried to simplify the system. So now we are without our navigation program, Deckman for Windows, because by accident the navigation computer got drenched. Now I get to play computer geek (an old hobby of mine) and work on setting up the network. A good lesson to learn before Transpac.


Soaked navigation Laptop

Saturday, June 14th: 14:20

By 2 PM we had passed Pyewacket to Leeward, sailing lower and faster in general. I think that we anticipated the heading puffs better than they did, making small gains with each puff. Now the wind is up to 25+ knots and both boats are surfing the big North East Pacific waves seeing boat speeds of 20+ knots consistently. Its going to be a 30 hour sprint both teams push hard. We’ve learned from our early mistakes and plan to be both smart and fast!

Pegasus 77 is very fast, we now are ahead of Pyewacket, but its a long race

Pegasus 77 is very fast, we now are ahead of Pyewacket, but its a long race

Saturday, June 14th: 14:25

Shark is 13 and is now quite a Melges 24 and 29er skipper as well as a wind surfer. He’s old enough now to be a full member of the team. For a long time this afternoon we sailed with Dolphins. Its always magical to see team playing in our wake. The pass us, they slow down they hop out of the water, cross our bow. Its like they always have a smiles on their faces.

A pack of Dolphins sailed with us for a couple of hours