Big Ocean, Little Boat for One Design Start at 2018 Pac Cup

As appearing in January 5 Latitude 38
Division starts for the 2018 Pacific Cup commence the week of July 9, 2018 on the waters in front of the St. Francis Yacht Club. For the first time in the event’s 20 year running, there will be an Express 27 one design start with eight entrants. Alternate Reality, Bombora, Fired Up!, Loose Cannon, Magic, Motorcycle Irene, The Pork Chop Express and Yeti will oppose one another over 2070 nautical miles.

From the home front, Christopher Jordan and his wife Charlotte will pair up. Christopher has made several ocean crossings, plus competed in a Pac Cup on Santa Cruz 50 Hula Girl, but this will be a first for Charlotte. “We’re racing as San Francisco E27 class race neophytes,” he says, noting they have had the boat for only one year. Lifelong sailors with Midwest roots, Christopher grew up on dinghy and keel boats, eventually spinning things into a vocation. Less of a hard core racer, “Charlotte takes a more relaxed approach to sailing, which usually makes it more fun.” As to the boat’s moniker, “There’s an opening scene in San Francisco’s Chinatown for "Big Trouble in Little China" where Kurt Russel is driving a big rig named The Port Chop Express. We discovered the name was initially used by commissioned WWII vessels that transported provisions and supplies to the South Pacific Theater; Pork Chop Express boats took awhile to arrive, but averaged 10-knots.” Christopher indicates that the film also has many usable quotes suitable for situations aboard a boat.

Rebecca Hinden of Bombora has staffed up with full crew. “I have chosen to go with three, which means a bit more weight, water and food.” A fourth time to race across the Pacific, she’s undaunted by the scale of things, noting that the Express 27 is a great ride—upwind is easy, it planes well, is fun to drive and loads on the lines are less. “It’s a little boat on a big ocean.” She and peers enthuse over the merits of one design racing on a long ocean course, plus the fact that each crew will know its ranking as things unfold.

Over on Motorcycle Irene, Will Paxton will saddle up with Zachery Anderson. “Doublehanding is something I have not yet done and is a new challenge.” Paxton, a veteran of seven Pac Cups, eight Transpacs and four Pacific Ocean deliveries states, “You are basically singlehanding, but with rest stops.” He’s looking forward to seeing the ocean and surfing the waves, plus braving dark nights as lone man up top like never before. “Wind and weather could be anything, so I adopt a Zen attitude about seeing it through. All kinds of crazy things are out there--whales at the Farallones, huge floating objects, commercial and Naval traffic, whale sharks, shooting stars and incredible sunsets and night skies.”

Wide open world once outside the gate. Will Paxton, of Motorcycle Irene, and crew compete in the 2015 Express 27 Championships.

Wide open world once outside the gate. Will Paxton, of Motorcycle Irene, and crew compete in the 2015 Express 27 Championships.

Manning the helm of Alternate Reality will be Darrel Jensen, raised on racing in the San Francisco Bay Area. By age 15, he had participated in his first Pacific Cup aboard his father’s Cal 39. Jensen tackled the 1982 and 1986 events on a Farr 48, did the 1987 Transpac, then the 1996 Vic-Maui. In 2006 he purchased Express 27 Alternate Reality; he and a brother sailed her in the 2008 and 2016 Pac Cup heats. “This year my son will accompany me on his first Pac Cup. Doublehanded on a small boat means life consists of sailing and sleeping. People have often asked if my brother and I were still on speaking terms when we got there. I laugh and say that other than a short strategy session in the morning and one in the evening, we hardly saw each other.” Conditions require racers to: “Drive until you can't remember how you got on the last wave—and just to the point where you’re about ready to drop off into sleep. Then you pound on the deck to wake the other guy.” Shifts on his boat will run three hours--or until the driver just can't do it anymore.

Taking things in stride on Magic will be Mike Reed and Jeff Philips. Reed affirms he’s registered for this event three times on a crewed boat; 2018 will mark the second time to run a doublehanded arrangement. “In 2012 we placed second in our division, so expectations are high.” A trauma flight nurse by profession, this sailor has participated in numerous big events around the globe and writes about his adventures. Sailing since a young lad, Reed reckons he’s logged 25,000 racing miles. “We’re hoping for good wind in the 20 to 25-knots range and following seas.”

To start, crews will see a challenging reach down the California coastline. Says Jenson, “The first couple of days are generally pretty breezy followed by a few days of very pleasant sailing. The 2am squalls add excitement and adrenaline to the mix, but back in 2008 it took us until 2am to just pass the Farallones!” The majority of racers are expected to complete the ride in between six and seventeen days. The finish is off the north coast of Oahu, near Kaneohe Bay. Sailing Instructions are expected to be published in May 2018. The first Express 27 was launched in 1981 in Santa Cruz, California. An ultra-light displacement sloop with LOA 27' 3", this Schumacher design automatically qualifies fleet entrants to be considered for the Carl Schumacher Trophy—first to finish on corrected time takes the prize.

Big ocean. Little boat.

Big ocean. Little boat.

The majority of racers are expected to complete the ride in between six and seventeen days