The race has run -- Mike and I won! The Plywood Cup, that is. That's a race where each team builds a boat and races it around a triangle course, two legs paddling and one sailing.
We had a sheet and a half of 1/4" plywood, some 1x2's, some 2x2's, a 3'x5' sail, nails, rope, and caulk (very important). We could use only the provided saw, hammer, and drill. The saw was very dull. Each team had 2 hours to build the boat.
We bent the plywood in a semicircle, more or less making half an 8' long cylinder. Then we put flat end caps on. When we put it into into the water, it just rocked back and forth like a log. We managed to get in and stay low enough so we didn't tip over. And we won!
Transpac is over, too! We crossed the finish line playing Stars and Stripes on the sousaphone. This was easy, since I had set a waypoint in the middle of the finish line. You had to cross within 200 yards (or something like that) to the left of a big red buoy. However, I had selected the big red buoy instead of my waypoint when I hit "goto" on the autopilot. We got a little closer than I had anticipated.
After the finish we took the sails down and motored into the dock. Leilani Logan, our hostess, met us there with a very nice dinner, drinks, goodies, etc. It was really nice. Several others came around, amazed to see that we had survived long enough to find a tiny island out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
The Minnow finished 49th out of 73 starters and 69 finishers, in 14 days, 8 hours, and 43 minutes. We were edged out in the multihull division by LoeReal, who beat us by almost 6 days. That's a fast boat, and the people on that boat really know what they're doing.
The slower boats started on Monday July 9th, the medium boats on Thursday the 12th, and the fast boats on Sunday July 15th. The Minnow had a faster elapsed time than all the Monday starters except one. But that's not because we're fast or better. It's because the boats in the Monday start had very little wind for the first 3 days.
We beat one of the Thursday starters in elapsed time. We beat none of the fast boats (Sunday starters) except a couple who dropped out of the race.
Mike and I were sailing double-handed. That means there were two of us on the boat, and we could use the autopilot.
Philippe Kahn (the Borland Pascal guy) was also sailing double handed, in a really nice boat. He beat us by a little over three days. He's sailed in a lot of and won a few Transpacs.
Allen Lehman Sr. and Jr. from Peyson, Arizona sailed the Narrow Escape. Their autopilot went out shortly after the start, so they traded off steering the boat every hour. They beat us by six hours, beating us out of 48th place. They were close to us most of the race.
Two guys over 70-years-old sailed Tango, the oldest crew in the race and the oldest crew in any Transpac. They beat us by by almost nine hours.
Looking over the position data, I believe that the The Minnow went farther than any other boat in Transpac 2007.
We enjoyed 2778 scenic ocean miles, rather than the 2225 straight-line miles from Fermin Point to Diamond Head. Even when we use the 1-hour positions, which eliminates the short zig-zags, we went 2729 miles. Our average speed was 8.1 knots, but the speed over course (toward Honolulu) was only 6.5 knots.
Hmm.... maybe that says something about our navigational technique. We apparently learned something from John Jourdaine's book: LFTO, the lightning fast tack to oblivion.
Today I sent off our two ripped spinnakers to Skip Elliott today of Elliott / Pattison Sailmakers. They made three of our sails and have repaired most of the others. He was in the Transpac on the boat Ho'okolohe. At the time, we thought we were leaving on the same day and made a $1 bet on the finish.
Their start time was moved up 3 days earlier than ours, but we kept the bet -- first one to Hawaii wins the big bucks. We were really surprised when they had no wind for the first few days, letting us catch up to them and pass them.
Toward the end of the race, Ho'okolohe kept gaining ground on us. A few hours from the finish, we blew our spinnaker in some strong wind. By the time we got it out from under the boat, we could see Ho'okolohe behind us. We weren't sure it was them until they radioed their 25-mile-to-go report. (Pendragon IV blew by us about the same time.)
At the last reporting point, Ho'okolohe was 12 minutes behind us. We managed to stay ahead of them and beat them by 8 minutes. That's amazing for a 14-day race.
We're parking the boat in Hawaii for a little while. We haven't decided whether to go South, West, or North from here.
In looking back, there are some things we might want to remember for the next race:
1. The light-weight spinnaker (whomper) is for light wind.
2. If the hydraulic winch won't pull in the spinnaker sheet, the medium-weight spinnaker (thumper) might be under too much stress.
3. Negative VMG (velocity-made-good) is not a good thing.
4. Being more than 100 miles from the nearest boat is fine, except when you're the farthest boat from the finish.
5. It will gain us a lot of time if we can learn to get spinnakers out from underneath the boat faster.