— SAIL SOUTH FOR GLORY
Above: 'Lightning's decision to run 50 miles south of their originally planned course, led to a first in Division E and first overall. Front row, L to R: Robin Jeffers, Dr. Joe McCoy and Brendan Bush. Behind: Skip McCormack, Jeff Thorpe, Tom Akin and Ian Klitza. Spread: The Antrim 27 'E.T' charges toward the finish — the only boat in Pac Cup history to score three wins with the same crew. (Spread photo: Douglas Peebles)
he 2006 Pacific Cup from San Francisco to Oahu's magnificent Kaneohe Bay will be remembered for a lot of things — some wonderful sailing; countless blown spinnakers; brilliant celestial treats; and, somewhat distressingly, a second consecutive disappointing turnout. But mostly, it will be recalled as "the year to sail south." Each crew's ultimate recollections of the 2006 running will quite simply be measured by the degree to which they tossed the dice in the endlessly risky tactic of sailing more miles in the hopes of better breeze. Those who bit the bullet early and plunged southward in the race's opening stanzas will carry with them fond memories of a course well chosen and rewards happily reaped. Yes, the southern migrantes covered more miles — in many cases hundreds more — than the
straight-ahead, rhumbline distance of 2,070-miles. But they were consistent miles, in mostly steady, if not spectacular, breeze. "We didn't really have a single day where we got balled up and had to stop," said navigator Travis Vetter aboard Tutto Bene, the Beneteau 38s5 that took top honors in Class B after a passage of 12 days, 19 hours. "We just kept ticking along." Those who toyed with fate by holding a northerly board in the early going will have far different recollections. Painfully, because they were at sea longer, they also had more time to regret those decisions. Take Daniel Spradling, skipper of the sumptuous, wooden S&S 52 Bounty, a classic beauty that also sailed in Class B but wound up fifth in her division after a long, frustrating voyage of 14 days, 14 hours.
"We're never going to be a tactical boat, to do well we have to be a shortest-distance boat," Spradling said. "So we took the gamble and cut the high, figuring it had to move north…" That's where his words hung, for the massive high-pressure system that constituted the race course's most significant feature was stationed stubbornly to the south and stayed more or less put, particularly early on when the hard choices had to be made. There was little else to say. North it did not move. No, there was no truth to the rumor, put forth by one fledgling comic, that the winning boats claimed victory because they thought they were sailing the Coastal Cup to Southern California, then hung a hard right about halfway along just for the hell of it. For expert analysis and a tidy summation, let's instead turn
The August 2006 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.