With less than two months until the start of the Pacific Cup, Allie Cayard shares a bit of insight into the team’s preparation for the race from San Francisco to Hawaii.

The crew of the Hula Girl consists of Paul, Danny and me (Allie) Cayard, along with two Marin Catholic High School alumni who are attending Chico State, Morgan Gutenkunst and Cameron McCloskey. We also have two more experienced offshore sailors who did the Transpac Race last year on Disney’s Morning Light; Mark Towill and Robbie Kane. Mark is from Hawaii and is attending Brown University; Robbie is from Connecticut and is attending the University of Rhode Island.

In preparation for the Pacific Cup Paul, Danny, Morgan and I are attending a safety course at California Maritime Academy in Vallejo, California. All of us had our first test on Hula Girl as a team on the 26th and 27th of April. As a beginner on big boats I have a great deal of learning to do, but I felt as though my team was willing to work with me which is a great feeling, especially when one is your older brother. Most of the crew selection was done by my Dad because he has the most experience and knows best! However, it all started with the three of us as a family thing. The food is going to be all freeze dried, which will bring my Dad back to his first Whitbread memories. The boat is going through a few changes at the moment to make it more of a racing boat rather than a cruising boat.

I personally am most looking forward to the experience. It will be one that many people only dream of doing and I am very blessed to have this opportunity. I am also looking forward to growing from the experience because I have always been pampered and being on a boat for ten days will ALL boys will be a new experience for me. I am least looking forward to smelly boys and dirty guy jokes!

This is also the first offshore race for both my brother and I. Danny and a few of the crew brought the boat up to SF from Southern California, but this is an entirely new experience.

I am not quite sure what my responsibilities will be on board, but I have a small feeling I will take on a motherly role with the boys while at the same time being treated like one of the boys by my father.

Sailing with my Dad will no doubt be fun and intense. At times I may even want to kill him, but in the end it’s all worth the experience. I love my Dad with all my heart and he has been the best father anyone could ask for. I am grateful to be stuck on a boat with both him and my brother for ten days before I go off to college.

I have no idea where the name Hula Girl comes from. We debated for a while whether to change it and if so what to change it to. I think we’ll find a meaning for it on our trip to Hawaii.

– Allie Cayard

The wind gods only graced us with enough wind to get one race in today. Bribon, with the King of Spain onboard, got to the left on the first windward leg and the wind in Spain went left and they were launched.

The wind speed was about 10 knots for the 1.25 hour affair and not much changed after the first windward mark. We managed a 6th which was decent and put us in a tie for 7th with Mutua Madrilena. Mean Machine finished 8th and that was good enough to win the regatta by one point over Bribon.

I think the fleet has had its fill of wind under 10 knots and is looking forward to the next Audi Med Cup event in Marseille in early June.

I will miss Marseille to attend my daughter’s graduation from high school, but will be back on the circuit for the third event in Cagliari, Italy in early July.

For complete results go to 2008.medcup.org

Strange day today. No wind, then plenty of wind…up to 15 knots, then no wind. Luckily, we were able to squeeze in one race during a one hour window with 15 knots and that it was a good one for us. I got the boat up on the line and we finished 3rd. Mean Machine did a carbon copy of their other races and added yet another bullet to their score line for a strong lead in this regatta going into the final two races tomorrow.

After waiting for wind, then having a general recall and a postponement, we finally got a race underway around 1400. We had a good start up near the windward end with Mean Machine who tacked off for the right immediately. We followed a short time later and Artemis hipped up on us as we all drag raced out to the right. The right was good and we rounded in that order and stayed in that order for the duration. Just behind us, Platoon and Bribon and Quantum were nipping at our heels.

Surprisingly, the race was shortened at the second windward mark… it seemed like a mistake as the breeze was solid. About 6 minutes later, the wind died and shifted 160 degrees. I guess the committee knew exactly what they were doing.

After that, the wind never came back.

Tomorrow, two races will be attempted, but no races can be started after 1530.

For complete scores go to 2008.medcup.org

The coastal race was held today, with light to moderate winds from the southeast. Most of the coastal racing is a procession, with little chance to pass. Today was not a lot different. For the second day in a row, Mean Machine won. They scored two first places, as they were in the lead at the half way point and at the finish. The course was about 30 miles and took just over three hours to complete. The TP52 Class allows masthead genoas (Code 0’s) for coastal racing and they were particularly useful today with the wind under 9 knots for half of the race.

Unfortunately I had a bad start again today… got tangled up with some Russians and we were very slow at the gun. We managed to clear out pretty quickly and make a big run back to mid-fleet by the top of the first windward leg, but we were two meters short of crossing Mutua Madrilena on starboard. That forced us into a late port tack approach which meant ducking a lot of boats. We gybed early in the run and that did not pay for us either.

We were going well on a long port tack upwind and playing the right along with Bribon. It looked good most of the way then just at the end, the wind went 15 degrees left and all that we gained evaporated. So, we rounded the island (10 miles South of Alicante) in 11th and were still there at the midpoint.

Then, as we headed back up the coast toward Alicante harbor under spinnaker, things go very light and the wind shifted right about 110 degrees. We all scrambled to get the Code 0’s on and we passed Platoon there. Then we went along the harbor where we found more wind and passed Matador and Ono. On the final run, in 5 knots of wind, we passed Mutua Madrilena.

So in the end, as has been our normal behavior this week, we passed four boats to finish 7th. Better but still, not what we are capable of. I really feel bad about the starts that I have had this week. They have cost us a lot of points. I am going to try harder in the last three races to get our boat out in front at the start and let it go. It is very fast.

Tomorrow’s forecast is for very light winds again and the schedule is for two windward leeward races starting at 1300.

For complete results go to www.2008.MedCup.org

A big day of racing today with Races 3, 4 and 5 held in 10, 12 and 14 knots of wind, respectively. Course number one (windward, leeward, windward, finish) was used for all three races. Mean Machine had the best day with a fifth and two firsts, while Bribon is in first place with just 15 points.

Onboard Desafio Español we had an up and down day but we are definitely winning the prize for the most boats passed. We shot ourselves in the foot at the start of Race 3 by going over the line early without any real pressure from the boats around us. So, after restarting we passed nine boats and finished 7th. In the second race of the day, we had a good start but went left and that was not the place to be. We stumbled hard at the leeward gate, getting really slow there and just did not sail very well, so we finished 11th. Just prior to the start of Race 5, we had a string on the tiller break that caused me to lose control of the boat and we went beyond head to wind and fouled Tau. So right after crossing the line, we had to do a 360 degree penalty. Needless to say, we were well in last place. But the boat was fast up and downwind in the 14 knots and we managed to pass 11 boats to finish 5th!

So, the summary for us after the first two days is – the boat is fast and we have just got to stop getting in its way. I am very happy the way we have tuned this boat up, working very diligently on the rig tune, which is the critical element to getting these boats to sail fast through the wind range. Our North Sails by Sandro Benini are good too.

Tomorrow is the coastal race. There will be a scoring gate half way through the race which should be about 30 miles in total. Hopefully, we will have the 12-14 knots of wind that we finished up with today.

For complete results go to www.2008.medcup.org

Onboard Desafio we had an average day today. The conditions were very light winds, with smooth seas and partly sunny skies. The wind was 7-9 knots from 135 for the two races.

We finished the day with a 9th and 6th, so we are in 8th place overall. The big winner of the day was Tau (this former world champion “Artemis” is now owned by a Spanish team). Second for the day was Mutua Madrilena with Vasco Vascotto who did not practice at all during the last three days, as the top of their mast was being repaired having broken last Saturday. The racing is very competitive as you can see from the scores at www.medcup.org

We (I) had a bad start in the first race and we had to tack onto port shortly before the starting gun and pass behind most of the fleet. We managed to dig our way out of there and round the top mark about 12th and finish 9th. John Cutler our tactician did a nice job there. In the second race, we had a good start but got a bit caught in the middle and went around the whole course pretty much in 6th.

When we got back to shore, Caxia Galicia informed us they were protesting us for an incident at the first windward mark. I won’t go into the details but obviously we did not feel there was an incident. I hate protests in general and this one seemed unnecessary to me from the get go. The other party was intent so we went through the hearing for 1.5 hours of pain. In the end, the protest was dismissed and off we went to our performance debrief to do something constructive to try to improve for tomorrow.

I am making this one short as I am late for the team dinner.

Two more windward/leeward races tomorrow.

The 2008 Audi Med Cup is about to get under way here in Alicante. Twenty boats are present, with a little more than half the fleet sailing new boats just built this winter. The season consists of six events, over five months, with a stand alone event for a World Championship in October in Lanzarote. For the complete schedule visit www.medcup.org

I am sailing with the Spanish team, El Desafio. The team built a new Vrolijk designed TP52 last winter at their base in Valencia. Following the postponement of the America’s Cup last fall, Desafio decided that the sporting program for the team in 2008 would be to compete in the TP 52 circuit and the GP 42 circuit. The GP 42 was already in place and in fact, the team won the 2007 season with Laureano Wizner at the helm and a crew made up of the Desafio Español sailors.

The decision to build the new TP 52 was taken in mid-December and I for one thought it could not be done. But Agustin Zulueta, Managing Director of Desafio Español was confident his “boys” could do it. The mold of Bribon and Matador, two 2007 designs that were very good, was used to speed up the process. The boat was started on January 4th and was launched on April 20th! They built the entire boat in the Desafio base in Valencia – with the shore team and crew! The longest lead time item was a new mast. A new one could not be built in time. So the team acquired a spare mast from TP52 Anonimo from last year and we are starting out with that. The sails are by North Sails designer Sandro Benini who has done a great job designing sails for this fleet for the past four years.

We spent the last ten days tuning up the boat and getting the bugs worked out while sailing out of our base in Valencia. We hosted the Quantum Racing team with Terry Hutchinson as the helmsman. We got some good training in and now feel we have a solid platform to build on.

Today was the final day of practice and in fact, we had a practice race. The wind was 10-12 knots with relatively flat seas. The direction at the start was 165 degress and it moved left steadily through out the day to 130 degrees. We had a good start at the committee boat and sailed straight out to the left with Quantum, Platoon and Cam. At the first windward mark, Quantum was leading and we were fifth. Up the second windward leg, we got left of the three boats that were between us and Quantum and passed them to finish second. Not a bad way to cap off our training.

The racing will be very difficult and competitive. I am sure that at least ten of the 20 competitors could win this event. Consistency will be important and probably difficult to attain as so many boats are brand new and still sorting things out.

The format for the regatta is ten races with all races counting.Two windward/leeward races are scheduled per day for Tuesday Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Thursday will be the coastal race and there will be two scoring opportunities in that race; one at the midpoint and one at the finish.

I am not sure what the forecast is for tomorrow but it will be a battle.

In the May Issue of Seahorse Magazine, columnist Paul Cayard provided his latest theory regarding the America’s Cup, and it has to do with an interpretation of the Deed of Gift that might become the next fodder for the New York legal system. The crux of his position focuses on whether the complete boat must be constructed within the country being represented, or just the hull.

Modern America’s Cup rules have required that hulls be built in the country of their club, with masts, sails, hardware, etc. able to come from elsewhere. Cayard believes that since the 34th America’s Cup match between the Swiss Alinghi team and the American BMW Oracle Racing team will be following the strict terms of the Deed of Gift, that everything – winches, cordage, instruments – will need to come from their respective countries.
Here is how the DoG reads:

“Any organized yacht Club of a foreign country… shall always be entitled to the right of sailing a match for this Cup with a yacht or vessel propelled by sails only and constructed in the country to which the challenging Club belongs, against any one yacht or vessel constructed in the country of the Club holding the Cup. ”

We suspect this is a non-issue for the Americans, but can the same be said for the Swiss? When asked for their interpretation, the American team agreed with Cayard, while the Swiss team declined to comment. What do you think?

Cast your vote here:

Desafio Espanol began training yesterday on board its TP 52, which will make its debut in the first Audi Med Cup event, which starts on 12 May in Alicante.

During the last week, the support team completed the task of assembling the new boat and Desafio will continue its training, in Valencia, until the next Friday. Then team then leaves for Alicante for the first regatta of the season, from 12-17 May.

Many of the team that will participate in the circuit of TP 52 were sailing with Desafio during the last America’s Cup. The skipper will be Paul Cayard supported by Laureano Wizner and Terry Hutchinson, former Team New Zealand tactician. The crew includes John Cutler, Bruno Zirilli, Pedro Mas, Miguel Jáuregui, Enrique Cameselle, Diego Guigou, Pablo Rosano, Nacho Braquehais, Marcos Iglesias, Gustavo Vilariño, Christian Scherrer, Carlo Castellano, Jorge Ondo and Agustín Zulueta. – Thursday, 01 May 2008