Saturday, July 5th

Friday, 4th of July, watching Division 3 and 4 competitors start 48 hours ahead of us with ideal starting conditions.

Today is big crunch time for working on our weather tactics. Here is a summary of what we know and our competitor probably knows too.

There is a possibility that a tropical disturbance may be headed our way from Mexico, two days into the race. That’s what the forecasts say. It could be a hurricane, or just a little more wind. Models are not very good at forecasting tropical depressions. Maybe it will fizzle out. Its the kind of situation that if the winds are manageable we may actually head South a bit to catch some of them in order to go faster, trading distance sailed for boat speed. We’ll have to watch this one closely.

Today's weather chart

This morning, the dual High pressure is still elongated around 40-41 North, 40-152 West and its central part has strengthened to more than 1030 millibars. That should make for a quick race if it holds up and the double system continues consolidating into one stronger system forecasted to gain force to around 1034 milibars.

For the start, we should se a South Westerly sea-breeze flow of 6-12 knots (probably kicking in between around noon) and clocking all afternoon while building a bit of strength.

Our game plan is going to be to get into the strong offshore winds as soon as we can by sailing a Great Circle route while staying of the Islands in order to avoid their wind shadows.

Then we’ll have to see how the different systems evolve. That’s a nice forecast and could make for a record breaking year. But its too early to tell yet.

A happy crew after our team dinner Saturday night at the Papadakis Taverna Greek restaurant in San Pedro

Food while sailing, is really important. But perhaps most important, is a great last meal before a long offshore passage. It’s not just the food, but getting the whole team to gel. It’s discussing the last details. What positions will we have at the start and what will we all do. Nice company!

While we were having dinner, my assistant Faye Kong and some of our software engineering team are busy putting the last high-tech touches to our weather crunching systems on-board Pegasus 77. We have four networked laptops and we constantly receive satellite-based weather information. We now have developed a sophisticated way to gather, organize and analyze some of that weather. And like every high-tech project, if it wasn’t for the last minute, nothing would ever get done!

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Friday July 4th

Happy 4th of July. For the team at Pegasus Racing, its a lot of focus and work on Friday, July 4th. That’s because we decided to get it all done and give the whole team Saturday the 5th off. Time to relax and get psyched up for the big event. Just like a big exam, cramming won’t help. We’ve done all that we could do, now our dice are cast. Of course in the navigation part of the team we’re going to be very busy crunching weather information. Most of the team is going to go for a big workout at the gym, jogging or biking. This will be the last big workout before a 7 day match race. And that must be one of the longest match races of modern sailing history: 2250 nautical miles of non-stop adrenaline, 24 hours a day without respite.

Lunch break while getting Pegasus 77 ready for the big race. Shark is now 13 and a growing boy!

There are 4 distinct parts to the Transpac race:

Part 1: Getting out of the coastline into the offshore winds. Big gains or big losses can be made here. We’re starting at 1 PM, probably before the seabreeze will be established and there is quite a bit of adverse current. Our goal at the start is to stay in touch with our competitor. We don’t need to be ahead, just close enough that we don’t make significant losses. This is the same kind of approach that we took successfully during Coastal Cup a few weeks ago.

Part 2: Reaching in the Northwesterly gradient breeze all the way to the ridge that is attached to the South-Eastern part of the Pacific high. That’s where we’ll meet the North-Easterly tradewinds. How far South do we go? How much more distance should we sail in order to find more wind? Because Pegasus 77 is a sled and planes, every knot of increased windspeed means 1/2 knot of increased boat speed off the wind.

Part 3: Running in the trades and surfing to Hawaii. Sailing to Hawaii is surfing to Hawaii: You want to take down every wave that is surfable. And that’s lots of fun.

Part 4: The last 500 nautical Miles where we have to sail with those tricky squalls all around. With these squalls, the wind gets shifted right at the front end but where there is almost no wind in the back. In the last 100 miles we need to find the right line to head for the Diamond Head finish line. And there are a lot of decisions to be made then as to how far to get across the Molokai channel to find better wind and a better angle to the finish, again trading more distance for more boat speed.

Of course weather models change quickly and so by Sunday morning we’ll have a pretty good game plan for the first couple of days, but then, we’ll need to continue crunching weather information in the navigation station. This makes the Transpac very much a navigator’s race because sleds like Pegasus 77 are so responsive to increased wind speeds.