Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Trans Pac The Yacht Race ( Written in 07)


I am all in for my seventh Transpac race and ninth race to Hawaii. What have I learned, how do I get ready and will I ever do it again?
Have I done well in this race? No! 3rd in a class of eleven SC 50’s was OK, but that was a Pacific Cup. In 1991 we won the fabulous 50's fleet Ok but not in the history book. So, what have I leaned?

I’ve always felt the race was made up in thirds with 1/3 boat preparation, 1/3-weather strategy, 1/3 sailing skills. In 2003 I had the weapon of choice a J 125 sailing double-handed. The mistake made was boat preparation. Even a boat less than four years old you need to take the rig down and have professional rigger inspect everything from the mast to the rudderpost. Our electric system was well managed and our sail inventory was complete. We lacked practice with the autopilot and shifting gears. We did however take proper precaution to keep the boat dry by resealing all port lights, hatches, stanchions, winches, sail tracks and pad eyes. The result was an incomplete race and a broken rudder bearing that made us return to the mainland after the first night of the race. In 1993 we did not monitor crew weight and at the end of the race we found one of the crew had brought his dive gear with him. That same year, we were throwing pounds of coffee overboard and a number of other provisions because we had horribly over provisioned the boat. Another mistake made is to over crew the boat; I think we had ten people on the boat that year. In latter years we were down to a lean crew of six and crew bag inspection. In 1995 at the end of the race we found a full water tank on the port side of the boat our results were improving although we where still not in the cheese. One of the largest parts of boat preparation is the proper attention to boat measurement for the rating system you are sailing in. Take the time and optimize your boat for measurement don’t assume your old rating has the proper weight of your boat this is a HUGE MISTAKE. Alcohol has NO place on a Transpac Yacht. Why do you think there are Mai Tais at the end of the race?

Only the driver and the sail trimmers are in the cockpit anyone else better be in the middle of the boat or weather rail, pee in the head, sleep in the middle of the boat and on the high side. Sails should be stacked on the weather rail. Constant attention must be placed on the movable ballast this race is weight sensitive and without this attention to boat preparation you’re just on another cruise to Hawaii or aboard a ship of fools.

How do I prepare, what to bring, and how to stay out of trouble. Once you have agreed and signed on as crew you are in the service of that captain. Make sure ASAP that you will get along with EVERYONE on the boat. You need to go the extra mile, make all the practices on the schedule, put in work party time and be ready. I go to the doctor and the dentist before a race. I bring a small shower bag for my new older age with Tums, sunscreen, Aleve, Deodorant and tooth brush. The boat should supply toothpaste, baby-wipes and soap. No later than the third day you need to start a hygiene routine. If your lucky your body will be on it’s normal routine and once you are you feel ALOT better. Oh yes, clean the toilet when your done with it, and most people really don’t care how hard you had to work in there. No later than day 5, and if your lucky its warm, you will have to man up and take the bucket for a salt water shower. The ship should have a bottle of Joy for bathing. KEEP YOUR STUFF IN YOUR SEA BAG!

The first six days are normally cold and at night I wear padded shorts, t-shirt, long underwear, fleece bottom and top and a heavy jacket along with my foul weather gear plus life harness hat, gloves, wet suit socks with wet suit slippers, no boots. I have a watch that glows at night, a small personal flashlight. I also have a water tight VHF and keep it on your body. You should also keep a good knife on your body. For the day I wear my padded shorts, T-shirt, Jacket, and foul weather pants, and harness. So in my bag you will find five pairs of underwear, four t-shirts, fleece, long underwear, two pair of padded shorts, extra pair of sunglasses. I place my foul weather gear, heavy jacket and life harness on a hanger. This will keep your bag small on arrival and expectable to the skipper..

I have a hard time having someone wake me up so I get myself up twenty minutes before my watch. I then make some coffee or have some dark chocolate, get dressed and make it on watch ten minutes early. When I am off watch, I sleep until I am charged up again. Keep on schedule letting people sleep late is not good for you our the crew as a whole. Wake your off watch partner up ten minutes before his shift and get back on deck until your partner is on watch. If your watch partner is late for shift you might ask them to please be on time or ask your watch captain to kick them in the butt. Being repeatedly tardy for watch for any reason is completely unacceptable, unless you are the Navigator and if that’s your partner you just have to deal with it. If it’s your turn to cook, you do it off watch, clean off watch, shit off watch.

Now the part on how to deal with the asshole. Every boat will have one and unless you are a watch Captain it not your problem. Keep your negative comments to yourself. Don’t get caught up in the conversation about who wins the pillow award or when is that guy going to take a shower, etc. If your watch is not responding to gear changes it is the watch captain reasonability and he is the one that must answer to the Captain. The golden rule is what happens on the boat stays on the boat. Keep your mouth shut and concentrate on your duties and back up your crewmates.

Keep moving during your watch if you sit still it makes it that much harder to get up again. Walk to the mast, look for chaff, clean the sheets up, trim, and keep your eyes on course, the wind, and boat speed. Ask yourself what sail will we go to next if it gets windy or if the wind goes down, what sheets will I need, pole trim, main trim keep your mind on sailing fast and talking about boat speed and the big puff coming in from behind is always good.

The Navigator and the skipper are the ones making the calls stay away from the navigator’s table that’s his space. Don’t eat your meals at the navigator’s table just stay away from that spot. If they are a good navigator they will give the crew a report each day. Personally, All I need is what place we are in. Some navigators will go into much more detail.

One of the two hardest parts about Transpac is that you will have to sail the first three days setting up for the weather ridge and you might be low in the results, keep fighting it really is a good thing. The other hard part is the last three days knowing what place you will finish in. If you’re in the tank that’s hard because it’s getting hotter and the boat is getting smaller. Keep in mind at this point you still have the personal challenge of the Molokai Channel and how well will you drive or perform at this point of the race is a big achievement. As you approach the last hundred and fifty miles, stay out of the sun off watch, drink a lot of water, get your rest, get ready for the big battle with the channel. There has been many of race I did’nt drive as well, as I new I could, and this bothered me more than what placed we finished.

Once the race is over and you can see straight again its time to clean the boat and hand it over to the delivery crew. You need to bust your butt and sweet it out and clean the boat up, get it done and party on.

Yes, I have always had a dream of doing the race with my son and I think I will keep race 10 for that reason. Of course if someone brings me an offer of a double handed on a very well prepared boat?... well, maybe?


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