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Vic-Maui At The Halfway

by Mark Gray, July 9th, 2010



Vic-Maui 2010 is shaping up to be a fast race. The fleet is either at or approaching the halfway point of the race, with the speedsters already past it. Reaching the halfway point is a special time for Vic-Maui racers, calling for some celebration. Most of the boats will put on a special halfway dinner featuring a great meal with a little time for revelry. A visit from King Neptune is often arranged. This is often the only time during the race that the entire crew will have the opportunity to share a meal and companionship together, as the watch cycle can keep them on different schedules. The weather is getting warmer as the boats approach Hawaii, the foul weather gear is getting stowed and the shorts and T-shirts, as well as sunscreen, are getting broken out.

The lead boat is Scott Burbank’s speedy Riptide 35 Terremoto!, ahead of even the Class 2 boats which started two days before the Class 1 start. But of course that’s not the full story, because it’s corrected times that count. As of roll call time on July 8 at 1800 HST, the leaders are David Sutcliffe’s Beneteau First 47.7 Kinetic and Jim Innes’ Beneteau 49 Red Sheilla, just minutes apart in Class 1; and Chris Hui’s Southern Cross 39 Sonsie in Class 2.

Boats report fast broad reaching, with boat speeds sometimes better than 15 knots. Winds are steady  from the northeast in the 20 knot range, and can be expected to veer more to the east as the boats get further south into the Trade Winds. These conditions look to be holding fairly steady for the remainder of the race (although no one, and particularly no navigator, sees that as a guarantee).

As always in Vic-Maui, the navigator’s choice of the route to sail is the key to the race. The position and expected stability of the Pacific High will determine how far south boats will head before turning to the west and Hawaii. The current weather conditions and wind patterns have allowed most of the fleet to make an early push westward quite close to the Great Circle route, the shortest possible distance to cover on the course. The normal route in many previous Vic-Maui races, including particularly the 2008 race, has seen the fleet stay closer to shore for a much longer distance before making the break toward the west. If the gamble pays off, we can look for some fast finishes.

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