The triple-scoring Molokai Race (150 miles) was the last race of the regatta.
‘During the night, at around 0200 local time and somewhere off Molokai’s north coast Cha-Ching (Sydney 41, Scotter Simmons) lost the top part of her mast. In around 18 knots of breeze and with the towering sea cliffs of Molokai close under her lee, Cha Ching was for a time in some peril, through not actual danger. Big Apple III (Farr 45) and Smile (Beneteau 40.7) both pulled out of the race to stand by Cha-Ching. Cha-Ching suffered no casualties and eventually was able to proceed under her own engine power, allowing Big Apple and Smile to rejoin the race.”
I started the race wth full foul weather gear as the first 11 hours (overnight) was spent on the rail. I as relieved of the wave breaker position (bowman) for two hours to trim main a difficult job in the pitch black especially as I was unfamiliar with the traveller system. During the night, we saw up to 28 knot headwinds during a 75 mile thrash to Maui. The initial strategy was to leave the Oahu shore at Koko head however, the wind was more northerly going easterly so the fleet set off for Molokai. We were headed badly on that shore, the wind decreased and the sea conditions were simlar to the potatoe patch of San Francisco. By dawn, we were half way along the nothern Molokai coast and the view was amazing. As we headed toward the sea cliffs (highest in the world) on port tack we were lifted and tacked at their base in over 90 feet of water. This area is not inhabited due to the awe inspiring topography of densely forested near vertical slopes. The IMS fleet was only just starting to come back from the mark at Maui, we had expected the to pass us on their way back during the night. This was the first indication of our position on the water in terms of the other J105′s – Tiburon and Jose were behind us and we stretched our lead. What we tought was a J105 was in fact Smile the Beneteau, which we crossed tacks with for an hour. As we bore off for a short reach to Maui, everuone was concious of the rock, which had claimed the life of a Japanese woman in the 1996 race it was detectable from the desciption in the report we had read of the incident. To our surprise, we saw Big Apple II half way down the reach, at this point we didn’t know about the Cha-Ching incident and thought they had had a very bad race.
It wasÂ a great feeling to strip down to shorts and t-shirt after the night as the sun blazed down and the steady trades continued to blow at 18-10 knots. The obligatory factor 50 sun tan cream was smothered all over and we hoisted the kite to surf down the white capped blue rollers. We were picked up on each overtaking crest and the front third of the boat lifted clear of the water as we pumped the main and bore down to start planing like a dinghy. The spinnaker strained and as the boat surfed it had to be trimmed into deal with the change in apparent wind angle. The speedo steadily increased from 9 to 18 knots while the boat hummed. I was grinding and the trimmer and I did not even have to talk as we were totally co-ordinated, everyone on the boat knowing what to do to keep the boat on her feet. The remaining two crew were hiked out with one ready to release the vang if we lost it in the gusts, which reached 27 knots. A wide lane of white foam showed our path down the waves and some of the spray went over the timmers head where he was standing at the rigging. Approaching Makapu head, the wind headed us allowing us to obtain even greater speeds. Unfortunately, Jose had had a great downwind leg and having been 30 minutes behing Tiburon at Maui was now threatening our lead. We heard later that they reported 21 knot surfs and they created a 15 minute lead over Tiburon. We never caught Irrational despite great surfing and not collapsing the kite once. The 150 miles took just under 24 hours of what I think was the best sailing of the whole event.