Ed. Note: Bruce Hedrick may have retired from Northwest Yachting, but we’re lucky enough to get some reports in from his new adventures. He’s navigating the Santa Cruz 50 Allure in the Transpac, joining his brother Gregg onboard. Hedrick, like every other navigator, faces one of the more chaotic Pacific weather patterns in decades. The Port Townsend based schooner Martha started a few days ago and is currently standing 9th in Division 8, about 50 miles behind the class leader. Greg Slyngstad’s J/125 Hamachi has a stellar crew including Jonathan McKee. We’ll anxiously await Bruce’s emails and get them posted asap. He wrote the following yesterday evening.
What a long, strange, trip, it could be. As we have repeatedly complained, the weather this year has been pretty strange. Transpac will be same, a real challenge for navigators. The high is very late in setting up, it’s not very round (not stable), and then there’s hurricane Dolores and post-tropical Enrique. Dolores is threatening to move into our route in the later part of the race and as the high moves away from the coast it’s going to take the wind with it. Then again we have the Expedition routing software and the ability to get new GRIB files every six hours. Is that a help? Not this year. We have also subscribed to Commanders Weather and even they’ve said they’re having an interesting time trying to figure this one out. Yesterday, the routing program had us diving to the south to catch the edge of Dolores and ride that to Hawaii. Today we’re supposed to go north from LA to 33-35N and travel west along that line until we can gybe to Hawaii. A 2225 mile race becomes a 2600 mile race lasting 12 days.
We start tomorrow along with Hamachi, a J-125 with a boatload of excellent Seattle sailors aboard. Martha, the famous one, out of Port Townsend started on Monday this week and it looks like someone out of that first group of starters is going to win the overall because they’ve had great breeze the whole time and they are able to close reach along great circle route, sailing the shortest possible distance. It looks like we’ll have some wind for our start but it will be light on Friday and Saturday as we try to get west as fast as possible. The big boats, three-100 footers, and three multihulls will all start on Saturday and have to deal with a southerly as the high pulls away from the coast leaving trough of low pressure along the coast.
After that it’s going to get really interesting as there will be more pressure to the north and less wind along a much longer band to the south. Very, very untypical conditions for a TransPac.
You can track us on www.TransPacYC.com on the Yellow Brick tracker program which while it may be six hours delayed won’t make a lot of difference. I will also be sending updates, maybe not daily, but fairly often to www.NWYachting.com . No pics, just text updates.