Pacific Cup Has Biggest Fleet In Years

San Francisco, California, USA: The Pacific Cup race organizers announced the final starting lineup, with a total 61 boats competing in the biennial race to Hawaii. Twenty-two boats including two double-handed divisions are set to begin the race early afternoon Monday, July 14, with additional starts for faster boats through Saturday, July 19.

Most racers anticipate arrival at Oahu’s Kaneohe Bay around July 26-29, with that date range varying by several days on either side depending on weather, course selection, and boathandling. Notable participants in this year’s race include Paul Cayard and his family aboard Hula Girl and Philippe Kahn aboard Pegasus.

Saturday’s start, Division F, consists of the fastest boats skippered by dedicated and aggressive racers. Philippe Kahn on Pegasus (OP-50) hopes to best the record for fastest doublehanded passage now held by Stan Honey for his passage on the 70-foot Mongoose.

As the fastest-rated boat in the fleet, Kahn should set the pace for the rest. The other boats in Division F are fully-crewed, generally meaning they will benefit from less fatigue and more aggressive sail handling. 70-foot sleds like Velos, Holua, and Rage will spar with Pegasus as well as Criminal Mischief and Flash, designed to take advantage of light weight, surfing all the way to Hawaii.

2008 will see some special trophies. Blue Water Sailing magazine has sponsored a prize this year for the “Fastest Family Afloat.” At least eight boats have declared as family efforts, with at least three relatives aboard, or two for doublehanders. These include perennial Pac Cup buffs Jim Quanci and Mary Lovely aboard Green Buffalo, the Jensen family aboard Alternate Reality, and the Cayard family aboard Hula Girl. Competition for the prize is expected to be spirited.

Race co-organizer Storm Trysail Club has sponsored a Team Trophy. This prize will go to the three boat team from a single yacht club with combined best performances against the overall fleet and each boat’s division. Nearly half the entrants have joined in teams defending the reputations of the Saint Francis, Richmond, Encinal, Corinthian of Portland, and San Diego yacht clubs, as well as the Singlehanded Sailing Society.

All monohulls compete for the Pacific Cup, the trophy that gives the race its name. This is awarded to the boat completing the course with the best corrected time. Super-racers compete with modest family programs for this coveted prize.

In the highly variable conditions of the Pacific, and under the strictures of the race, it’s as likely that the trophy will be carried away by a general purpose sailboat of modest design as it is to be taken by an all-out race machine.