30 July 2008 | 2nd Division
Thank you to all our Sweet Okole friends and family for your interest and support through our epic 2000 mile Pacific Cup Race. It was a physically and mentally exhausting race and it was inspiring to think we had well wishes coming from both shores.
I'd also like to acknowledge the crew of Bullet for not only being smarter than us, but also sailing fast. They sailed a terrific race. Congratulations to them.
The race this year was so demanding in part because of the unusually strong squalls that came on at night. They were typically packing 20-30 mph winds. Coinciding with little to no moon for the second part of the race, the squalls were tough to deal with.
Toward the end of the race, sleep deprivation also became an issue with several members of the SO crew getting less than 4 hours sleep in the final two days.
Also due to the windy conditions and our pressing so hard to catch the Express 37, Bullet, we experienced a number of equipment challenges. The SO crew responded to each challenge and never let them become an excuse for letting up. In no particular order, the following had impact on our performance:
1) shredded No. 2 jib
2) shredded No. 2 reacher (jib)
3) blew out the mid-range running spinnaker
4) protective fiberglass on hull delaminated on forward left side
5) marine instrumentation failed
6) navigation hampered by lack of consistent web access
7) SSB antenna near top of the mast needed repair work
On the positive side, this year's Pacific Cup provided great sailing. I'd say, to use a skiing metaphor, it was a double black diamond run that went 24/7 for 300 consecutive hours!
Regarding the infamous split with Bullet, in hindsight, we should have obviously gone further south. At the time, however, we were pulling away from them and the majority of our fleet was north of us so we made the strategic decision to head further west and as best we could stay between the fleet and the finish line. What we did not expect was for Bullet to find much stronger winds to the south. Although our track made it seem like we actually headed back north, that was not our intention. Sweet Okole sails faster on a broad reach than directly downwind in less than 20 mph of wind which is why our course looked so jagged (we jibed on wind direction changes to keep up a maximum VMG or velocity made good.) And a dog ate our charts :-)
Check out the videos to get a sense of what life on board was like. (Will be uploaded on 8/1/08.)