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Old 08-01-2013
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Re: Mutiny at Dawn - Transpac Race 2013

RD,
I was shocked when I read about your horrific experience on the Transpac. I have heard stories from friends about their “race from hell” but your story beats them all hands down. One common theme in all the stories is the lack of proper provisioning. I think that if you see that the boat isn’t properly provisioned – cut your losses and walk away then and there.

Can you clarify a couple of things? Did the Jeaneau have a symmetric or A-kite? How were the crew positions outlined at the start? You mentioned that you were the navigator, yet Jake was downloading the GRIBs and Harry was setting the course. It seems to me that Harry used your’ s and Jake’s resumes in order to qualify for the race? Was the agreement that you and Jake would crew in exchange for free transportation and food during the trip? Can you post the link to the NOR and SI’s? How did you guys do your morning check-in? Also through the SATphone? Does the Transpac allow for autohems? How did you manage the energy consumption on the boat?

I am a little surprised of the casual attitude on the part of the Transpac race committee. I wonder if they have gotten complacent over the years as the vast majority of boats racing are sleds crewed by rock stars? I’m not sure you have much recourse against the RC. Somewhere in that paperwork you must have signed a crew waiver. My experience in running regattas is there isn’t much money to go after – one of the biggest expenses is the D&O insurance premium to defend the RC against lawsuits. As to the RC providing conflict counciling, don't expect them to provide "marriage counciling services" or the USCG to air drop a social worker anytime soon. (I think it is even covered in the NOR under the section pertaining to the "skipper's responsibility to race".)

My experience with the PacCup was the opposite. We had a very rigorous inspection a month ahead of the race. Half of the crew had to have a current SAS certificate and previous ocean racing experience. We had to demonstrate that our emergency rudder could turn the boat in a complete 360 in under two minutes and we needed to certify that we “passed” a MOB drill. There were countless other requirements (I have a 2” binder at home chronicling our preparation.)

Flying a kite at sea is a lot more difficult than inshore. The way Hawaii (Oahu) is situated in the trades, you have to steer really deep angles – just right for a head stay wrap. Not all ocean racers may agree, but we swear by using a “spinnaker net”. This is a simple set-up using webbing shaped like a big letter “A” (with three cross pieces). You hoist using the spare jib halyard and one leg goes to the base of the mast and the other behind the stem fitting. The “net” is like kryptonite to a spinnaker intent on head stay wrapping. The sail just touches the “net” then bounces back to where it belongs.

The big difference between the Eastern and Western Pacific is the lack of islands on the eastern side. The PacCup race will place you the furthest from land in all ocean races and is second only to Point Nemo in remoteness. If you slide too far south in the trades on the way to Hawaii, your next best landfall are the Line Islands.
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George B
2000 Catalina 34 MkII
Alameda, Ca.

Last edited by GeorgeB; 08-01-2013 at 01:12 PM.
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