Home Adventure Aspen Power Catamarans 1st to Complete Pacific Challenge

Aspen Power Catamarans 1st to Complete Pacific Challenge

by Bruce Hedrick

A father and son team from Aspen Power Catamarans completed a circumnavigation of Vancouver Island non-stop, unrefueled in a C100 32-foot production boat. The team completed the 641-mile (1,068-kilometer) challenge in 47 hours, 5 minutes, on 267 gallons (1,009 liters) of fuel, finishing June 22, 2014 at 2:00 pm. The modern 32-foot power proa catamaran averaged 13.61 knots using a very miserly 5.6 gallons per hour at cruise speed for the trip.Aspen Power Cat Challenge

The Pacific Yachting Pacific Challenge was issued by Pacific Yachting Magazine to owners of production powerboats 40 feet or less to circumnavigate Vancouver Island in the least amount of time using only the fuel that can be carried on board.

“What a Grand Adventure,” said Aspen Power Catamaran founder and president, Larry Graf. “When we heard about the Pacific Challenge I knew that I had to give it a try, and we’re proud to hold the first record for circumnavigating Vancouver Island non-stop and without a refuel. I’d love to see someone else give it a try!”

The team included Larry Graf, his son Nick and Aspen’s B.C. dealer Dave Bonar of Bosons’ Yacht Sales. The team targeted a very narrow weather window between storms and departed Friday afternoon, the 20th of June at 2:55 pm from Victoria. They encountered relatively calm weather for the 270-mile Inside Passage portion of the trip, other than running over one medium-sized tree in the dark, south of Campbell River at 11:20 pm.

Aspen Cat Start

Larry Graf was thumbs-up at launch.

The wind built as they rounded Cape Scott and into the open Pacific Ocean, at the northwest corner of Vancouver Island. While it was nothing like the previous evening’s 60-knot (100+ kmph) winds, as the team worked their way south around the Brooks Peninsula the wind built to 35+ knots.

The sea state on this section of the north coast included a ground swell of five to eight feet rolling in from a storm in the Gulf of Alaska, combined with a southwest swell of two to three feet, as well as a brisk south-southeast wind chop of three to five feet flowing right up the island’s coast line.

“It was something to see, the seas were so confused they simply imploded on each other creating vertical curling spouts five-feet high,” said Graf.  “This was something I’ve never seen in 30 years of boating in three oceans, and our course took us straight into them.”

These seas were worrisome for two issues. The first concern was fuel consumption, as in that sea state due to climbing waves and rough water, fuel burn more than doubled. If these conditions continued for the balance of the trip the record could have been in jeopardy. The second concern was that if the wind built to the 65-knot winds of the night before, the team’s safety would be in question. “That portion of the coast has no easy night-time access hurricane holes,” said Graf.Aspen Cat leaving

“The west side of Vancouver island is a bit like Jurassic park, green huge mountains popping right out of the ocean to 8,000 feet in places,” said Graf. “The west coast includes five major inlets each branching out into huge fjord systems of mostly uninhabited wilderness. In the first 200 miles south of Cape Scott we saw not one boat, cabin or light other than a very few navigation lights.”

The team would like to thank its sponsors for their gracious support in this adventure, Gateway Yachts for loaning the 32-foot Aspen, Volvo Penta for engine spare parts and fuel, Garmin electronics, and Bosons’ Yacht Sales for tech support.

For more information on Aspen Power Catamarans and the trip itself contact Larry Graf at 425-508-7005, Nick Graf at 206-948-5090, and for information on the Pacific Challenge, please contact Dale Miller at editor@pacificyachting.com.


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1 comment

Dale July 2, 2014 - 09:50

Thanks to Northwest Yachting for covering the challenge!

Everyone at PY is really excited about how it turned out, and it sounds like the Aspen crew had a great adventure.

We’ve already had some interest from other boaters and we’re looking forward to seeing some more entries.

Any boaters who are interested in accepting the Pacific Yachting Pacific Challenge can contact Dale Miller at editor@pacificyachting.com for details.


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