Pacific Cup Recap

As promised, here is a recap of our 2014 Pacific Cup. We had a great time, got to know a lot of boats and crews through our communications duties, and provided assistance to another Pac Cup boat on the high seas

Our start on Monday, July 7 was typical:  good winds and overcast. If I had been more careful with the jibsheet winch we probably wouldn’t have been last to cross the starting line, but in a two-week race a handful of seconds probably doesn’t matter too much (at least that’s what I tell myself!)

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(Copyright 2014 Erik Simonson –

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(Copyright 2014 Erik Simonson -
VALIS Start 1.jpg
(Copyright 2014 Leslie Richter -
Once through the gate and past Point Bonita, the wind got light. Very light!  We slowly sailed towards the west in search of wind, but instead of picking up, it died completely.  After drifting around for a while we managed to get ourselves pointed to the south, where the wind did pick up that evening.

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Wandering in the windless desert outside the Golden Gate
(Tracker images courtesy YellowBrick)
The wind kept up for a couple of days, on the beam or a little aft, and we made good time.  On Thursday we put up the spinnaker.  On Friday we ran into a vast area of no wind to speak of.  This was essentially unavoidable, so we made what miles we could while waiting for the wind to fill back in.  Here’s our overall Pac Cup track:
VALIS Route 1.png
And for comparison, here are the tracks of the divisions that started on Monday:

VALIS Route 0.png

Once the wind picked up again we had a pretty good run towards Hawaii.

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Two days before our finish we were requested to divert to give assistance to Pac Cup vessel Sweet Okole, who had broken their rudder and were limping into Kaneohe under power and emergency rudder:

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Here is a detail of our track during the assistance:

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We trailed a long line with a bag that contained fuel, and later our emergency rudder (in case theirs broke).  There were plenty of opportunities for something to go wrong, but the VALIS  and Sweet Okole crews performed this difficult process with skill and care.

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We crossed the finish line in very light headwinds.  This was not the typical spinnaker run entrance into Kaneohe Bay!  It was dark, and we were tired, but it felt pretty good!

(Copyright 2014 Leslie Richter -

During the awards ceremony the crew of VALIS was presented with a seamanship award for our assistance to Sweet Okole.  We were deeply moved.

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(Copyright 2014 Leslie Richter -
We tied for fourth place in our division.  The top three boats definitely earned their positions, as they sailed hard and smart. We feel very good about our performance though.  It’s a great race, with a lot of great boats and good friends.VALIS is now sailing back to Friday Harbor, crewed by Rich and Jim (who helped bring her south to San Francisco), and two new crew, Eric and Sylvain.  I will post some of the emails they are sending, but until then you can follow them on the tracker:,

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