Transpac Update – Navigating Gambles on Day #7

Greetings from the middle of the bodaciously blue Pacific!

We’re coming to the end of Thursday’s daylight, sunset is an hour away, the winds have set us up nicely and we have been moving very fast all day. Wind speeds have been in the high-teens and boat speeds surf up to 18 knots from time to time … this is surely the experience that brought us here! We’ve got about 775 miles “as the crow flies” to Honolulu, but realistically, a hundred or so more given the gybes that will likely be necessary along the way.

We’ve heard from some people that they don’t quite see or understand all the interesting strategy and navigation that is going on over here, and so they wonder why we are so far away from the rest of the boats in our section. Well, as I said in a previous update, sailboat racing is a meld of both the efficient physical operation of the vessel and the effective mental cognition required for navigation. Navigation is a very large part of the game being played here; just like strategy is in chess.

John Hoskins NavigatorNavigator John Hoskins w/ computers, plotters & charts taped to the table top.

John Hoskins is our navigator/tactician. John’s been racing with us at Bodacious Racing from our beginnings 6 years ago now, and is a highly experienced solo and crew racer on the Great Lakes. John’s primary job onboard BoIV involves balancing three elemental variables and so calculating our best course on an ever-changing game board of possiblities. The three variables are … 1) the weather, 2) the navigation from start to finish and 3) positioning and strategizing our moves when compared to our competitors.

So, while the other eight of us spend our time trimming sails, driving, grinding, changing sails and other jobs that keep the boat moving as fast as it can, John spends his time each day analyzing weather reports, speed reports, position reports and route data – all of this so we can find ourselves at the right spot at the right time and on the right course to have the best angles to the wind and seas, so that we can sail the course faster than our competitors! “Badda bing, badda boom!”

John Ayres
Crew Member John Ayres trimming the spinnaker at sunrise …

This race in particular is rather tricky as the typical course to Hawaii drops down into the trade winds, and then involves a gybe into Hawaii. This year, there is an interesting phenomenon called an “inverted trough” that is is happening a bit south of the rhumb line to Hawaii, but which we feel can provide us better wind from a better direction. And so, that right there is where the “game” has taken us.

Transpac Positions _ 7.19.13

You can see in the tracker screen shot above, how we’ve worked our way south of the pack of our competitors in order to catch up with this better wind and more angled direction into Hawaii. So, while it may look a little odd that we have taken such a different course, there IS a plan at work here. As we’ve been saying today, we’re “all in!” Our bet has been made … and now it’s a run to the finish! If the inverted trough stays with us and the winds lean our way, we’ll make up some time. If other unplanned variables come into play … and there are ALWAYS unplanned variables when dealing with the wind and weather, then it could very well go a different way. For now though, we’re all jazzed here and betting heavily on John’s experience and talent.

Skipper Jeff UrbinaSkipper Jeff Urbina at the helm …

On other daily notes, we haven’t seen too much debris today, but have seen an increasing abundance of flying fish that continue to amaze us as they zip over the waves changing direction quickly, perhaps avoiding predator fish below the surface. Late this afternoon, we also saw a feeding frenzy of tuna and dolphins. The tunas were pretty good size … maybe 60-80 pounders … jumping right out of the water and fully into the air, with the dolphins doing the same thing. We couldn’t tell just what was going on down below the surface, but what an amazing site to see tuna flying through the air like that!

And yes, we’re still eating well, and we have what I have calculated to be a sturdy enough supply of cookies to get us to Hawaii!

We’re hoping for a Honolulu arrival sometime on Monday … and with a bit of luck from the wind and waves, hopefully a good strong finishing position … but regardless of where and when we finish, this has been some just EXQUISITE sailing, and we are all very grateful to have been part of this wonderful race.

HAEAWe also want to thank all of you who have contributed to our advocacy partner HAEA‘s fundraising drive. If you haven’t done that yet, please check out the good work they are doing here, and consider making a contribution.

And thank you all once again for following along with our adventures!

- The Rambling & Gambling Crew of Bodacious IV
Skipper Jeff Urbina, Capt. Tim Eades, John Hoskins (navigator), Matt Scharl, Jim McLaren, Chris Pike, Christer Still, John Ayres and Dave Rearick.

Coordinates: +21.37643, -143.51989
SOG (speed over ground) – 11-14 knots
COG (course over ground) – 274 degrees

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