July 27th, 10:25 hst – lat 21 16 N, lon 157 45 W – Honolulu

For the final hours of the race we saw up to 36 knots of wind and sustained 20 knots of boat-speed easily. The speed potential of these boats is huge as they plane so easily. In displacement mode, a boat’s speed is limited by its ‘hull-speed’. A rule of thumb is that that hull speed can be approximated by calculating the value of 1.34 * sqrt (length), which, is about 9.5 knots in our case. The Pegasus Open 50 is a planing hull. That means that the hull is configured to develop positive dynamic pressure so that its draft decreases with increasing speed. In other words, the faster you go, the less draft there is and the faster you go.

We jibed at the tip of Molokai in one of theose extraordinary moments, where the whole universe seems to be in focus. And we pulled it off. What a team!

We finished at 10:25 hst, in 10 days 29 hours and 25 minutes. We missed the record by a few hours. It was awesome, the boat was awesome, the whole team was awsome, and Richard fantastic. We won the double handed Transpac boat for boat and on handicap. Missing the record gives us an opportunity to do it again. Things don’t get much better than this.

20 knots of boat speed on the finish line

July 26th, 15:15 hst – lat 21 39 N, lon 156 52 W

Wild night. We hooked onto a massive squall monster, saw 32 knots of wind and sustained 18 knots of boat speed for the longest time. That coupled with a massive header completely changed our finish plans. The breeze has eased to 22-25 knots and we are sailing fast to the finish line. We are fully canted, water ballast in the back and all the weight that we can find in the boat stackedastern. This is an awesome ride towards the lighthouse.
Wind back to 30+ knots. We have Molokai as a lee-shore and we need to jibe. We decided to take a picture of ourselves before the jibe and after a wild night without sleep! Richard is taking the picture with his left hand and I am steering the boat with my right hand.

July 26th, 11:30 hst – lat 22 09 N, lon 155 29 W – Last night at sea

Last night at Sea

This is our last night at Sea. We are entering the Molokai channel. We’re seeing 15 to 20 knots, 5 to 8 knots less than usual. The wind and the weather are strange this year. The sailing is stunning: bright moon with Jupiter right at its side and massive Pacific Ocean rollers. You can understand why the sport of surfing was first conceived in Hawaii. The sport of the great Polynesian kings and navigators.

We are surfing down big waves and doing 15 knots of boat speed in 20 knots of wind. It’s the Hawaiian roller-coaster!

There are big squalls forming and with the lighter trade winds, like they have been for a few days, they are essential to sailing fast. With every squall you get pressure and shift. But beware if you exit the wrong way: a becalmed boat doesn’t go anywhere.

We’ve already jibed twice since sunrise. It is going to be a night with a lot of jibing. I better close my eyes while I can.

July 25th, 18:00 utc – lat 22 31 N, lon 153 23 W

The night was very different. The wind filled in from the back and our squall monsters seemed harder to find. Then we found ourselves surrounded by dolphins in the bright moonlight. Magical.

The position reports in the morning give us the thumbs up: 7 jibes through the night, very few glitches and we held our own with the fully crewed racers – something to be proud of.

Now we are planning our approach to the Diamond Head lighthouse. Tricky!

There were tens of Dolphins at sunrise. Magical...

July 25th, 13:30 hst – lat 22 51 N, long 154 24 W

I am switching all my blogging to Hawaii Standard Time (HST) in order for everything to make sense for the finish. That’s because there are diurnal effects, building sea breeze influences etc.. that are easily visualized when one thinks in local time.

This morning at 3 am hst, the Diamond Head Lighthouse bore 242 degrees and was 299 miles away on a great circle. This afternoon at 13:15 hst, the Diamond Head lighthouse bears 235 degrees and is 215 miles away on a great circle.

If you look at the illustration, you can see that we are favoring the right hand side of the course because we are presently sailing in headed pressure in a lane clear of cloud cover and we expect a 15 to 20 degree wind-shift as we progress on the right side of the track. That’s when we’ll jibe. We’ll still play the shifts down the track in order to shorten the distance of course.

The final approach to Honolulu

1. Our position at 13:30 hst
2. Optimal vmg course (at 13:30 hst for the wind direction at that time)
3. Optimal vmg course if on the other jibe (at 13:30 hst for the wind direction at that time)
4. The great circle between the last reported position and the finish
5. Port layline to the finish (at 13:30 hst for the wind direction at that time)
6. Starboard layline to the finish (at 13:30 hst for the wind direction at that time)
7. The finish line at Diamond Head lighthouse

Note: lines 2, 3, 5, and 6 form the diamond that we will stay inside while playing the shifts.

Pegasus Open 50 Progress Chart

 

1. 7/15 race start to 7/16 6am pst – average heading 220°, 41.12 nautical miles
2. 7/16 6am pst to 7/17 6am pst – average heading 201°, 313.64 nautical miles
3. 7/17 6am pst to 7/18 6am pst – average heading 224°, 145.66 nautical miles
4. 7/18 6am pst to 7/19 6am pst – average heading 232°, 195.77 nautical miles
5. 7/19 6am pst to 7/20 6am pst – average heading 258°, 260.32 nautical miles
6. 7/20 6am pst to 7/21 6am pst – average heading 257°, 249.02 nautical miles
7. 7/21 6am pst to 7/22 6am pst – average heading 257°, 239.25 nautical miles
8. 7/22 6am pst to 7/23 6am pst – average heading 234°, 200.97 nautical miles
9. 7/23 6am pst to 7/24 6am pst – average heading 240°, 198.76 nautical miles
10. 7/24 6am pst to 7/25 6am pst – average heading 258°, 216.6 nautical miles
11. Distance remaining as of 7/25 6am pst – 299.77 nautical miles at 242°

Note: Each leg is a 24 hour daily run from 6a pst to 6a pst. Each report is marked with a red dot. The average heading for each leg along with the distance travelled is noted below.

July 25th, 03:00 utc – lat 22 30 N, lon 150 52 W

We sailed all day trying to stay centered on the race course in order to have options as the weather patterns have been too unpredictable. So we jibed about 5 times, I can’t quite remember how many. One thing that is clear is that we are getting much better at jibing this boat. We’re having fun with it. We fill the kite on the new board before the main comes across and then when the main comes across we let the sheet fly. A slight S-turn and we’re back sailing. There are a few details involving the canting keel, the canting bow-sprit etc., but they are just a few details. Mind you, important ones, because if you miss one, things could get ugly pretty quickly. It’s been a great afternoon of sailing. The sun is very harsh, so it is physical.

There are flying fish everywhere. I bet that they see the winged Pegasus as a giant predator. The flying Fish’s evolutionary defense mechanism is to use the little wings that they developed to fly for a few hundred meters out of our way fast. And they have schools of them flying around (in flight, do they change their names to ‘a flock of flying fish’?). Amazing little critters. You can find their delicious eggs at the Sushi bar if you order Tobiko.

Tonight we have chicken with green beans. We look forward to it.

Then it will be time to hunt down a few squall monsters and ride them through the night.

July 24th, 21:15 utc – lat 22 37 N, lon 149 55 W

Start with the end in mind, but the journey has to be the reward. In our case, the end is the finish line by Diamond Head lighthouse. The Journey, well that’s some of the best sailing that I have ever done. Squalls are building quickly this afternoon. The fleet is really spread around the race course. We like our position in the center of the race course, away from the laylines, as it gives us the most flexibility in our squall riding experiments. We’re in a good routine now that includes watches, organized sleep, meals, navigation, celestial sights, weather crunching, steering, trimming and, very importantly, jibing. At first, this all seemed a daunting task – something that 15 people on a TP-52 do. And now, just the two of us are doing it all in a very organized way.

For you OceanGizmo readers, the laptop that we use on-board is a Panasonic semi-rugged Toughbook. The kind of software that we use for sensors and monitoring does not run on Macs. So we run Windows Vista. There were many skeptics when I decided to go with Windows Vista instead of XP. However Microsoft has been very cooperative and has welcomed our sensor and monitoring systems working in real-time. We got the whole package to work. It wasn’t easy, but we did. The Panasonic laptop is very reliable, very conservative in it’s architecture and extremely efficient at power management. We picked the new CF-Y7 because it is so efficient. It’s presently a Japanese model and I am typing on a Kanji keyboard (which is a bit of a practical joke and pretty funny really) coupled with a Logitech Trackball. We get everything that we need: two USB ports, a CAT-5 connection, PC Card slot, SD card slot, and a DVD player/burner that opens from the top (a great feature). We carry a spare Toughbook in case this one fails. Since we started, the system has been up 24/7 and worked flawlessly. In fact, I settled on it after seeing a piece online on Gizmodo.

The Diamond Head Lighthouse

July 24th, 15:00 utc – lat 22 42 N, lon 149 03 W, Squall Riders

We rode squalls all night and that worked well for us.

This morning is bright. Richard and I worked hard all night. We jibed 5 times in front of squalls to stay in the big breeze. We can now jibe this huge ‘OceanGizmo’ Melges-style, just the two of us, and do it quickly in up to 22 knots of wind. The Open specialists told us that ‘you never do that, it’s too risky.’ We don’t like risk as much as we like to go fast and stay in front of squalls. That’s fast. Fast is fun. We rode a big line of squalls for 6 hours to the South and then jibed West before being overtaken.

This is the best sailing that I have ever done… It’s like crossing an ocean on a 505. The boat is that nimble and that ‘on the edge’ and with the two of us, it’s exactly the same dynamics as a 49er, 505 or a 470 crew. The sails are a bit bigger! What is remarkable is that we are pacing a fleet of fully crewed racers… It’s just amazing… And fun.

This morning at 6 am pst, Honolulu is 512 nautical miles away on a bearing of 250 degrees magnetic. We can almost see the Lighthouse from here!

A Squall-Rider’s sunrise

July 24th, 02:15 utc – lat 23 45 N, lon 147 13 W

The Squalls are monsters. They just swallow you up if you are on the wrong board. If you are on the right board, you can ride them for hours and make great progress. The thing about them is that they grow and grow throughout the evening and the night, and then in the morning the sun hits their tops and fuels the inferno. We were slow this morning because of the blob on our keel. Bad luck. Two knots slower and therefore instead of pacing the squall we get gobbled up by it and at the back end we are becalmed for hours. The good news is that this gave us an opportunity to get rid of the blob on the keel as planned. Now the boat feels better. What a difference.

Last night, as we were battling the elements, it was Green Day’s “Longview,” Dire Straits’
“Sultan’s of Swing” and last, but not least, the Aria of “The Queen of the Night” from the Magic Flute. That was quite a multimedia production: huge squall clouds engulfing us while “The Queen of the Night” is belting one of the world’s most stunning musical achievements. We had front row seats: spectators, but actors mostly. As if Poseidon was having a grand time throwing us curve balls.

The gradient breeze is light, around 9 knots and that is what we get in the clearings, where we are now. So we look for the monster squall and try to ride them through the night.

We are Squall-Busters. So now I am trying to use the on-board radar system to measure the level of activity of each squall. We are at the testing phase: observation, reasoning and then tonight we will experiment.

Incoming Monster Squall