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Day 5 - The Middle Sea

by Race Committee, July 5th, 2018

Thank you to Kraken for the cool drone photo out on the Middle Sea

Day 5 Roll Call finds the boats generally about 550 miles west of the Oregon/California border and the leaders are now about 1500 miles from Hawaii. But the winds are easing. This is definitely the Middle Sea and the most difficult part of the race to figure out. The fleet continues to chase the sweet spot between the Pacific High and Low Pressure trough well west of the Rhumb Line; with most boats 75 miles west of the direct route and Anjo and Serenite another 75 miles west of that.

The wind was generally strong overnight after the trough passed and most boats were beam reaching speeds of 8 kts or more. But the wind has now abated with most boats seeing wind from the NW about 15 kts, and speeds have slowed accordingly. 

In Racing 1, the duel between Bob Strong’s Firefly and John Murkowski’s Joy Ride continues without a break. While Firefly currently has a lead of about 20 miles, at this point that is insufficient to make up the handicap difference. Both boats have top navigators aboard and Brad Baker and Bron Miller are focused on the best path to the next wind pattern – and keeping a close eye on each other through the YB tracker.

In Racing 2, the first 3 boats have spread apart a bit with Travis McGregor’s Turnagain eeking out a slim 7 mile lead, Mark Malacek’s Kraken, and Christof Marti’s Salient are very much capable of catching as the separation can produce rewards for those who get the line right and risks for those who do not. Doug Frazer on Oxomoxo is in the middle of the lines of the 3 leaders and now 50 miles behind as the lead three boats got the stronger winds sooner, but is  still capable of closing the gap and using his handicap to correct ahead. That leaves Clayton Craigie’s Anjo a bit behind and way to the west hoping that is the line that will propel him closer.

In Cruising Class, Victor Mushkatin and his Russian crew on Serenite is way out to the west keeping company with Anjo and staying in contact with the Racing boats,; having used their engine (as allowed by the rules) to pass quickly through the lighter winds yesterday. Shannon Rae and her all female crew on Gemini’s Dream are the only boat on the rhumb line and might already be captured by the weak winds associated with the low pressure “plateau”. 

The Roll Call notes indicate that the flurry of activity overnight in the higher winds took its toll on gear. Oxomoxo and Joy Ride are both having communication issues, Kraken sailed over a blown spinnaker, and Turnagain has noticed cracks on their steering quadrant in same place as a failure in 2016 (good thing they brought a spare this time).

The forecast shows more weakening and backing (that means moving counter-clockwise for the land-lubbers), causing lots of angst on all boats. They want to get to the next stage - the downwind sleigh ride on the warm trade winds to Hawaii. But that is still a few days away with a middle zone of “scooge” (a sailing slang term related to food debris falling out of the taco) to pass through. Who will get through the Middle Sea the quickest?


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