The Santa Cruz 52 Triumph, with Bruce and Gregg Hedrick aboard, finished their Transpac last night and are presumed safely docked and mai taied. Congratulations all. Raisin’ Cane and Kinetic V finished last night as well, and BlueFlash is closing in on the finish line fast. Merlin, with Carl Buchan aboard, finished in the wee hours Friday morning to finish second over the line in class and third in class on corrected time. I’ll try to get more details on each of the stories. Results here.
In the meantime, here’s the last report from Bruce Hedrick, filed just before the finish. It’s a fun insight to life onboard and a well-run program.
TransPac Update 15 July 2017
What a long strange race it’s been. Sorry I wasn’t able to get more info out to you however we’ve been working really hard to keep the boat moving in difficult conditions. Even though records were set by the big boats, we’ve spent a lot of time sailing in 9-13 knots even on this final approach to the Islands when we should be sailing with our full sized, heavy kite in 20 to 25 knots of trade winds. Instead we are just comfortably cruising along making about 8-9 knots in 14 knots of breeze.
We had a great first half of the race and it seems like after we had hit something large and soft, we lost our boat speed edge. Even though we could see nothing on our keel or rudder, we also couldn’t see the full length of either one of them. After three days of the slows we finally bit the bullet, dropped the spinnaker and did a complete back down. We never saw anything come off the bottom but we definitely got our speed back and went from 30 miles behind the other SC-52s to within 3 miles of them last night. At sunset we started aggressively gybing on the shifts to try and get past them and actually ended up losing time, go figure. So now we are just keeping the pedal down and are once again sailing up to them. We have about 100 miles to go so it will be interesting.
Our crew has been great and we have had a great time. Our skipper, Steve Sellinger, did an outstanding job of putting a diverse group together and getting them to function as a team. There is no question that any of us would happily sail on Triumph with Steve again, any time, any place. Our boat captain is Gregg Hedrick who did a superb job putting the boat together and getting us ready for this long trip. We have not had one single failure of any piece of equipment or any of the many complex systems aboard. A true testament to his skills and abilities.
We have two watch captains, Scott Mason and Scott Poe, who bring a wealth of knowledge to the table along with an incredible amount sailing skills and abilities. They know instinctively the right thing to do at the absolutely the right time. We also have the considerable fortune to have Bruce Cooper aboard, our sailmaker and living, breathing human crossover chart who knows, without looking, exactly what sail we should have up and where we should be sailing it.
The person you would race anywhere with is Grant Wooden because he is constantly trying to figure out how to make the boat go faster by always trimming and re-trimming to get the very most out of you and the boat. The most dangerous job on the boat is running the foredeck which entails never ending trips to frontier land (the bow) to get the sails up and down as well as get the spinnakers through that complex series of maneuvers we call gybing which involves coordinating the entire crew. We are so fortunate to have Zack Hannah in charge of all of that; he is just amazing as well as totally fearless. Regardless of the task, time of day or night, even if he just came off watch, he always answers the call with a smile on his face. A truly outstanding group!
So what worked for us on this 10 day trip? Besides everything, there are notable standouts. Top of the list was the food, and it was incredible. There was none of that freeze-dried junk. Instead we had real food that had been completely prepared, vacuum packed and then deep frozen. All you had to do then was take the breakfast for the next morning out the night before or take dinner out in the morning. Once it was thawed you simply placed the plastic bag in the boiling water of the pressure cooker, let the pressure come up to about 4psi, and your meal was ready! The meals were planned to meet the expected conditions so for the first night, which is traditionally rough, we had easy to eat chicken and rice or bean and cheese burritos. Other dinners included carne asada, pork roast and veggies, pappardelle, sabatinos sausage spaghetti, turkey meatloaf, and for our last supper we’re having barbeque chicken with Trader Joe’s cabbage salad. Not a marginal meal in the bunch. We do have five days of backup freeze-dried meals however things would have to get pretty desperate before we went to those.
Lunch and breakfast were less organized because of the watch system however as the days go on and the days get warmer you generally transition from three meals to two meals and more snacks. Even todays snacks included carrots, celery, apples, oranges, beef jerky, and Kind bars. We’ve all lost some weight but not for lack of food.
A very cool addition to the boat was a coffee grinder mounted in the cockpit which allowed one person to sit on a Home Depot bucket with a boat cushion and easily trim the kite with the option to going to three speeds if needed. So much easier than trying to sit on a winch island and grind a top action winch.
Bruce Cooper, our sailmaker from Ullman Sails, also introduced us to the latest and greatest when it came to aids in the nighttime trimming of spinnakers. For years we’ve used contrasting strips of cloth in a chevron shape along the luff. We got these new luminescent strips which glowed in the dark and were easily seen from the cockpit. They got a little fainter towards dawn but then recharged themselves when the sun came up. He also small strips of the same tape you could place on the sheet so you could easily return to the same fast setting.
Lastly, my Don Leighton autographed sailing gloves were worth every cent. Every time you touched the wheel with them the boat went almost a knot faster. If you reached over the side and touched the water, seas were instantly calmed. Amazing.
Overall, the thing to remember is that when you can sail across the pond with such a great group on such a well prepared vessel, it is an experience like no other and you should never miss an opportunity to do so. Again, I apologize for not getting more of these out to you. Needless to say, if you’re going to be around TransPac Row in the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor tonight around 2300 hours, come on by and say hello.