Hula Girl Update

At 0830 this morning we had 50 miles to go and we had just got finished dealing with the morning squalls. They were pretty mild this morning. We were hoping for a bit more really, to give us a chance to pass the Raindrop for first to finish. Raindrop is the only boat ahead of us. They are just 36 feet long, racing in the double handed division which started about 5 days ahead of us. They have been out here for a while! Maybe they deserve to the honor of finishing first.

We had a good night including some white knuckle driving by yours truly in 28 knots of wind with the A4 up. Boat speed was a pretty steady 18 knots with peaks at 20. Again, I am impressed with how well this boat performs!

Amazingly, we had no major damage onboard during the race. Not a torn sail, not a broken batten, never got kelp on the keel or rudder. We did have some normal wear and tear and we did break one masthead spinnaker halyard that required Robbie Kane going up to the top of the mast to drop a new one in 20 knots of wind. He is a “pro” with a great future!

Molokai is in sight off to our left as we are aiming at Coco head on Oahu. The wind is just 14 knots as usual at this time of the morning. It will build a bit as the morning goes on.

With the finish to our voyage hours away, I am thinking about how this was just a dream a year ago. I have to admit, it was a lot more work and time consuming that I thought it would be. That was mostly my fault as I wanted to modify and improve the boat which created a huge amount of work for my friends. But the boat is a nice boat to sail.

My goals with this project were: to share a sailing adventure with my children, that none of us will ever forget. Also, the goal was to expose them to the great world of offshore sailing, the beauty of nature at sea, and the teamwork and camaraderie that is crucial to a winning team. Along with mine, I took four other outstanding young adults, all of whom thoroughly enjoyed the experience and have gained a lot out of it for sure. Mission accomplished.

I want to thank my whole crew; Allie Cayard who was a trouper, never missed a watch and lived with seven guys on a small boat for eight days. She ground the winches, trimmed the main and steered the boat at times. Allie will start her freshman year at the University of Colorado at Boulder this September. Danny Cayard, is the skipper of Hula Girl and learned tons on this trip. I think he and his friends could take the boat themselves next time. Danny is starting his sophomore year at Cal Poly San Luis. Mark Towill, Morning Light Alum, Hawaii native and Brown University sophomore; Robbie Kane, Morning Light Alum, already a top level bow man on the pro circuit at 23 years of age and University of Rhode Island Senior. We were very fortunate to have these two very well prepared and experienced young people on the Hula Girl. Thanks Morning Light-Roy and Robbie. Morgan Gutenkunst, Marin Catholic High School alum with Danny, Cameron and Allie, did a great job onboard with maintaining the running rigging, and is currently a Junior at Chico State; Cameron McCloskey also a senior at Chico State and 18 foot skiff sailing partner with Danny. For Danny, Allie and Cameron, this was their first offshore experience as well as first big boat sailing experience. Finally, my long time friend, Ralfie Steitz was the perfect partner for me as watch captain. Ralfie is the sailing coach at the US Merchant Marine Academy and is very used to working with young people. He is great at it!

I want to thank all those who worked on Hula Girl in the past few months, as well as the industry people who gave me great advice and products to optimize Hula Gil.

So this afternoon, we will finally taste that Mai Tai, the one we worked so hard for. It will probably taste pretty good. Might have to have a second one just to make sure of how good it is.

I am happy with myself for making this happen. For sure it cost some money, and for sure it took a lot of time, but as they say in the commercial: Priceless!

Paul Cayard

Hula Girl Update

26° 33′ 149° 36′

540 miles to go
Sail changes, squall dodging, gybing

Continued 26° 20′ 150° 18′ 1130 HST

Things could not being going better really. The crew are all very enthusiastically enjoying the ride. The owner is too! In fact, that is the mission.

We are now solidly in the trades, 18 knots of wind from 060. We are currently making our last drive into the right corner. I have to be careful to leave room for a shift or increase of wind that may not be on the router. So I won’t be going to the corner, corner. Would be embarrassing to approach Oahu with a jib up! There is a right shift all the way down the course so it is advantageous to go West first, then head South.

The Hula Girl herself is in good shape. No major problems just typical wear and tear of chaffed sheets and worn hardware that occurs after a couple of thousand miles. The sails are all in good shape, knock on wood, not a tear to be reported. In fact, we have had the same spinnaker up for over three days now.

The kids are into the freeze dried. Some are talking of getting the blueberriess and granola for their dorms at college. Wait until they see what it costs. Other usual life activities are taking place, like the daily shower, teeth brushing, sun tan lotion, etc. No shaving yet so we will be an older looking young crew when we hit Kaneohe on Saturday afternoon.

As far as the race goes, looks to me like we are doing pretty well. But I have yet to try to calculate the handicaps. Greg Stewart gave me a paper on that but honestly I haven’t had time to look at it. My days are pretty busy trying to get the weather, run the router, update the polars, make a sail chart as we learn the boat, and still stand my watch. Ralfie has helped me out a lot there by covering for me one hour of most of my watches. That is the beautiful thing about getting a bit older; you just don’t need all that sleep.

My turn on deck now. I just woke up the only girl on the Hula Girl and we are headed up for our four hours. It is a beautiful afternoon, sunny, deep blue waves that the Hula Girl is sliding down at 12 knots. It has been such a pleasant surprise to see how well ‘The Girl’ performs. That first night in 28 knots of wind with the #4, GS and double reefed main, we hit 21 knots at 90 true wind angle. Would have never thought that possible in a boat like this. And now that we are downwind, the pedestal winch we installed is more than paying for its weight. People actually ask to grind and the trimming that gets done must be infinitely better than top handling.

My hat is off to Bill Lee, the designer of the Santa Cruz 50. She is a great performer in the ocean, comfortable inside (it is the Four Seasons compared to what I am used to) and she is 28 years old to
boot. Way ahead of her time!

PC

Hula Girl Update

26°N 149°W

Ralfie and I just came off watch from the best night of sailing we have experienced yet. The clouds have finally cleared and the stars couldn’t be brighter. With a blazing half moon all of our headlights have remained down below. The breeze has been very shifty which has kept us on our toes. I believe we gybed eight times in the last four hours. It’s now warm enough for us to sail in our board shorts and jackets, very comfortable conditions. Everyone is well rested and upbeat. Things couldn’t be better aboard the Hula Girl.

I must say for a boat well beyond its day, this thing flies! With such a long and narrow hull the boat likes to sail low and fast. At the moment we have 19 knots of wind and are surfing down waves at a comfortable 14.5 knots. It’s just incredible how responsive the boat is, especially as the breeze increases. Not bad for a boat that’s almost 10 years older than me.

This afternoon we were greeted by a few birds, our first sign of land. The breeze has been steadily increasing and shifting east, sure indications that we are quickly approaching Hawaii. This is very much a race, and we are pushing the boat hard to arrive at the finish as quickly as possible. But at the same time I am enjoying living in the moment and am not excited for it to end. I think often it’s so easy to be focused on the goal that we forget to take a deep breath and enjoy the journey itself. In what little time remains I know that we will all make the most of our time spent out here on the Pacific.

Aloha,
Mark Towill

Hula Girl Update

28°N, 144°W

Life on board Hula Girl is at an all time high today. The crew awoke, some sailing, amid partly cloudy but beautiful blue skies this morning with the sun on the horizon. This was a great way to launch us into the second half of our journey.

As the morning progressed we sailed in variable winds of 9 to 14 knots with a very pleasant sea state. After a few gybes, we settled in for a long sail on starboard. For the first time since the start of the race we saw racing boats other than our own. The first was very far off in the distance and only hung in our sights for about an hour. Following the first sighting we saw another boat sailing at us on port. We crossed well in front of them and watched them gybe right behind us.

From the roll call this morning we figured out that this boat was a Sabre 42, so not in our class. We slowly extended away from them and watched them disappear over the horizon. With the warm tradewinds developing off our stern and the sun blazing, the crew was able to freshen up. Showers on the stern scoop for all brought new life and a fresher smell to the boat. With the wind forecasted to increase tonight, 16 to 18 knots, we spent the afternoon resting and preparing for some serious sailing. The boat is now quite clean and with our work completed a few crew tackled the music problem. After about an hour of tinkering with the stereo, the speakers finally started to put out some music and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

We spent the late afternoon and early evening leading up to dinner sailing right into the sunset with the easy listening of Bob Marley and Jack Johnson lightening the mood. To top off the day we sailed up behind another competitor and were within shouting distance. A Benateau 41.1 with their spinnaker up heading for the same destination, this gave us a chance to snap some pictures and have a nice chat on the radio. It was great to hear how their race was going and ended with a friendly request to save them some Mai Tais when we get there.

With good weather, good tunes and some even better company, we will sail through the night in hopes of another great day tomorrow.

Cheers,
Morgan Gutenkunst

HAT TRICK FOR CAYARD?

Almost a week into the 15th Pacific Cup, some of the earliest starters are preparing to hold their traditional halfway parties as they pass the 1035-miles-to-Hawaii mark. Following Sunday’s standings, Paul Cayard’s family performance on Hula Girl (San Francisco), moved them into first place overall. The crew sailed almost 300 miles in a single day, putting them on track to win several awards, such as the overall Pacific Cup trophy, the Division E trophy, and the Blue Water Sailing Family Trophy for “Fastest Family Afloat.”

Competition has grown for the Storm Trysail Club’s Team Trophy, awarded to the yacht club team of three boats performing best in their divisions and overall. Currently, a team from the Richmond Yacht Club (Richmond, Calif.) leads the scoring, consisting of Mark A. Moore’s Moore Havoc, Joshua Grass;’ Summer Moon and Dean Treadway’s Sweet Okole, all of which are doing very well in their divisions.

Official standings at http://www.PacificCup.org, which also has links to time-delayed satellite reports.

Hula Girl Update

28° 16’N 150° 26’W

It is going fast. The boat, the race, the dream. We are half way to Hawaii. The first two nights were cold, wet and high speed. Everyone was wet to the bone. Everything on the boat got soaked. We had a few minor fire drills. Mainsail down and Robbie up the mast to lead a new spinnaker halyard.

We went South, then we converted it to West. It has been foggy, then more overcast. Today, for the first time we had some glimpses of trade wind sailing. A bit of sun, deep blue water, flying fish and squid jumping out of the water. The breeze was up, the breeze was down. Now it is up again. We have had 30 knots and we have had 6 knots and all the sails to go with those conditions. No slating or drifting.

The Pacific Cup is a well thought out race; you have the worst conditions first and then it just gets better from there.

I have had my hands full standing a watch and trying to pay attention to the weather. Hopefully, we have played most of the important cards now and it is more about sailing the boat down the track we have chosen. With the luck of some 060 wind, I made a bit of a step to the South today from our position at roll call as I was a bit concerned about getting into the right corner (too close to the high pressure center), too hard and the wind getting to light. We are back on starboard in 050 wind direction and 5 knots. More winds and cruising into the night.

We have missed the full moon each night so far due to the overcast out here. Hopefully, tonight with the breaks in the clouds, the “stadium lights” will shine through and light up the field. That is one of the cool experiences about ocean racing and sailing at night in general.

We can’t help but to start to think about Hawaii and how exciting it will be to arrive there and what a feeling of accomplishment it will be..more so for the less experienced.

Time for a little chicken with rice and then on deck with my watch partner, Allie. We are swapping with Mark and Ralfie.

PC

Hula Girl Update

Things have been going very well on board Hula Girl and we are all in high spirits. Currently our position looks really good. From what I understand we are winning our Division (E) and have been gaining the entire time. We are the southernmost boat in the fleet and as of this morning’s roll call, we were 60 miles ahead of the next closest boat. Not bad for only being 600 miles into the race.

Here is what has been going on since our start on Thursday. We started at 1445 and sailed out under the Golden Gate in a stiff 25 knots of wind. After tacking a few times to get out away from land, we settled in on starboard tack and began our dive south. The first night was very windy, wet and cold. We had between 20 and 30 knots of wind, with solid 10 foot waves, sometimes larger. Since then we have set a reaching spinnaker and have been moving along with good pace surfing all the while. The wind has steadily shifted aft and gotten lighter, so we have switched to our running kite today. As we get spun around the Pacific High and cross the ridge, the wind should continue to shift. Soon the wind will shift so far aft that it will be more favorable to sail on port, at which point we will gybe. From then on we will be in the strong NE tradewinds and will continue to gybe between starboard and port, to take advantage of every wind shift and squall.

Life onboard has been pleasant for the most part. The first night was rough and wet, just about everything down below got wet as well. Today with the lighter winds and wind shift the boat has flattened and things are beginning to dry out. I took a shower and changed my shirt for the first time this afternoon. We have quite the spa on board: baby wipes, a bucket of salt water and some joy dish soap! Ironically we haven’t been able to enjoy the sunshine or full moon yet. We have had 100% cloud cover since the start. We have been eating freeze dried food which to be honest I am already sick of. Clif bars and dried fruit have been tiding me over though. We had one fire drill yesterday. Our port spinnaker halyard broke as we were sailing at 16 knots. We quickly put the kite back up on the starboard halyard, and repaired the port halyard soon after. Re-running the broken halyard through the mast was quite a challenge; we had to take down the main sail so that Robbie could go up the mast and re-run the repaired spinnaker halyard.

I think in the 80 sum hours that we have been out here I have already seen three nets and a variety of floating trash. More and more I’m realizing how important it is for us to take care of the ocean and how hard of a task that has become in today’s world. We have seen a fair amount of sea life: a few flying fish, had a squid land on the deck and Allie spotted a turtle this morning, a rare sight so far from land.

Today, Robbie reminded me that exactly a year ago the two of us were sailing the Transpac together in the same part of the Pacific Ocean. That’s what I love most about this sport. The life long friendships and memories created out on the ocean are truly priceless. The stories told and laughs shared are really what make the adventure worthwhile. I already know that one day I’ll look back on this Pacific Cup and smile thinking about the great memories that we are currently making together.

Mark Towill
Hula Girl

Hula Girl – 30° 38′ N 131° 24′ W

It’s been a rough first 48 hours. Compared to our 48 hour training, the weather has been cold and quite windy and we have yet to see much sea life. This morning our spinnaker halyard broke with four people on deck. Two more crew quickly rushed up to retrieve the kite out of the water. The port winch is chewing up our spin sheets so we had Mo quickly repair them as we don’t have many sheets out here in the open ocean.

We are still adjusting to the watch times, especially me as I haven’t slept for about 40 of the 48 hours. The food isn’t all that bad. Most of us enjoy what Mark likes to call “the reds” which means anything like pasta with red sauce, lasagna, and spaghetti with meat balls.

The weather is starting to get warmer now that we went over the ridge. Cloudy skies still remain, but the sun and the moon manage to poke their way through every now and then. It’s an amazing feeling of being in the ocean and not seeing land or anyone in sight. You get a feeling of how big our world truly is.

The Hula Girl is no five star hotel. As I mentioned, I had gotten no sleep until just a while ago due to the thrashing of the boat against the waves. Also the boys are really starting to smell. I had the honor of washing their dirty, sweaty socks today because I couldn’t stand the smell. One good thing about having all these boys with me is I get to hear a lot of good jokes, some at my expense, but they still manage to keep the smiles aboard. I am partaking in the physical activities such as trimming and grinding from which I have bruises all over, sore ribs, traps, and back, but it’s all worth it in the end to get to Hawaii!

I’m going into my bunk now for four hours of sleep, then back up for the 2200-0200 shift.

Allie

Hula Girl- Friday

We are finally headed to Hawaii. After months of work on the boat, we get to go sailing!!

With 2 reefs in the main and the #4 up the tender SC 50 got a good start in front of my home club of 32 years and we tacked and crossed the fleet heading for the ebb tide and the Golden Gate.

Morpheus ( a Schumacher 50) had a bit more stability and took over the lead for a while but as soon as we cracked sheets a bit the Hula Girl was off.

The night was breezy, 25-30 most of the night and our top speed was 21.3. I could not believe a boat from 1980 could go that fast with at #4, genoa staysail and two reefs. About 0200 with a bit of moon shining through the fog, to help, we set the blast reacher and then at 0600 we set the Jib top. The scene of the night was very cool, rugged and rough, but cool. The moon made a silver shin to the water and the waves were big and cresting so it was very impressive to those who have not been to seas in a sailboat. The wind has moderated to 20 and lifted to 340 so we are not hitting the big speeds any more. Looks like we did ok with our group during the first night.

I am downloading today’s grib now to see if there are any changes but from yesterdays grib, it looks to me like we are all having a tough time getting far enough south. Some people look like they want to cut the corner a bit. Or maybe they don’t want to but they don’t have certain sails. That is what is tough to figure out in ocean racing and even tougher when you have all different sizes and designs racing each other. I spent exactly two minutes figuring out range and bearing to three of our competitors. that’s enough at this point.

Life onboard is good but it has been rough. Water got everywhere as you can imagine in 30 true. My sailing instructions and communications plan got soaked so I am going to have to try to resurrect them when we get the warmer weather and start running.

Allie cooked us dinner (beef stew with peas and potatoes) and has been grinding the main. That’s right, grinding the main for the guys. She is a trouper. No seas sickness onboard! Ralfie and I took the first headsail change on the bow just so the young guys can’t say we made them do all the bad jobs. But that may have been our last, too.

So now is the time for me to do my navigator thing for a couple of hours then try to get a nap. Not a lot of sleep last night.

In closing I want to say that I am thinking about my good friend and shipmate, Mark Rudiger, together we won the 1998 Whitbread Round the World Race as skipper and navigator, and with whom I have spent countless hours in the nav station looking at gribs, tweaking gribs, etc. Rudi tough me everything I know about Ocean Racing from a strategy standpoint. Right know Rudi is fighting another battle with cancer. I know how he fights…looks nice, acts nice, but is very intense and very competitive. I know Rudi will succeed in this race too! Good on you Rudi!

Paul Cayard

Sailing in Marin: Next generation of Cayards head to sea

Danny and Allie are descended on both sides of their family from famous sailors. Their mother Icka’s father, Swedish ocean racing veteran Pelle Peterson, was one of the true pioneers of the sport, winning three Olympic medals before they were born. Their father, Paul Cayard, won the Whitbread Round the World Race when they were still in grammar school.

On Thursday, the Kentfield teenagers get their chance to try out ocean racing firsthand when they set sail in the Pacific Cup race from San Francisco to Hawaii on the Santa Cruz 50 Hula Girl, racing in a crew of eight, composed of two adults and six young sailors ranging in age from 18-23.

One very experienced adult will be on deck at all times, either their dad Paul or German-born sailing coach Ralf Steitz, 46. Two of the young crew, 22-year-old Mill Valley residents Cameron McCloskey and Morgan Gutenkunst, were on the Marin Catholic High sailing club team with Danny and Allie. Mark Towill, 19, of Hawaii and Robert Kane, 23, of Connecticut are experienced beyond their years – they sailed in last year’s Transpacific Yacht Race to Hawaii.

The idea for the Hula Girl project originated when Paul Cayard experienced an epiphany, a spiritual flash as he approached his 50th birthday. He knew that he wanted, more than anything, to make some memories by sailing with his children to Hawaii. He could sail anytime with other professional sailors in the grand prix racing circuit. That’s his job. But sailing with his children would be special, a trip the three of them would never forget.

Paul broached the idea and the kids were excited. Both sailed small boats, but never big boats, and neither had sailed on the ocean. For them, the trip meant spending time with family and friends, and seeing if they liked ocean sailing and wanted to do more of it in the future.

“I am not expecting to win the race, I just think going will be fun and a cool memory,” said Danny, an engineering student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. “Definitely for me, it’s not about winning, but being with my family,” said Allie, who starts her freshman year this fall at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Most of their friends cannot even imagine sailing across an ocean.

“When I told them I was racing to Hawaii they said, ‘Wow that is really a cool thing, not to hop on a plane to get there,'” Danny said.

Added Allie: “My girlfriends think that I am crazy and that it would be basically torture to be out there for 10 days and not have a shower and girl things around. But they also think that it is cool that I am doing something out of their experience.”

The Cayard kids took sailing lessons as young children, but weren’t interested in pursuing the family sport, seeking their own path by playing soccer and lacrosse instead.

“For me, it was because my Dad was doing so much sailing that I didn’t want to do it,” Allie said.

When Danny started at Marin Catholic, a lot of the kids were interested in having him on the sailing team, so he joined. “By then I was a sophomore, and I had fun and enjoyed the team,” Danny said. Allie soon followed her brother onto the sailing team, where she raced FJ and 420 dinghies.

Now Danny sails high performance, extreme sailboats, 29ers and 18 foot skiffs. “Sometimes it helps you being the son of a well-known sailor, but sometimes people try and put pressure on you to do well. That is why my mom stopped sailing when she was younger. I do a different kind of sailing than my dad did as a kid. I have had some successes and some failures, and I think of it as doing my own thing.”

Their dad told them this is an easy ride compared to the Southern Ocean, so they aren’t afraid. But will they like it? Will they be able to sleep on a boat at sea? Will they be able to stand eating the freeze-dried food?

“It will be a surreal experience to see nothing but water,” said Allie, who plans to write a blog from sea appearing on www.cayardsailing.com.

About two dozen sailors from Marin are in the PacCup, spread among several boats: E.T., Flash, Gavilan, Hula Girl, Low Speed Chase, Morpheus, Ohana, Pegasus, Sapphire, Sweet Okole, Valis. Track the race at www.pacificcup.org.

Jan Pehrson
Marin Independent Journal
http://www.marinij.com/sports/ci_9900742