You sailors out there may think the year just got started, but according to the organizers of the Pacific Cup, you're already too late for an entry in this summer's 12th running of the race.
Fun Race reaches
The West Marine Pacific Cup -- that 1,070-nautical mile, bay-to-bay, biennial race from San Francisco to Kaneohe -- has long been known to sailors as the "Fun Race to Hawaii."
As such, it has been extremely popular. So much so, that in recent years it has had to put a cap on the number of boats that can be accommodated. This has been primarily due to the limited mooring facilities at the Kaneohe Yacht Club after the finish rather than actual race logistics.
The Pacific Cup has been taking entry forms since last July and has now announced its race capacity of 90 boats has been reached. Entries submitted from now until April 1 will be placed on a "maybe someone will drop out" waiting list.
To make sure the race continues to be fun and without tragedy, one of the rules governing entry in the Pacific Cup requires that at least 30 percent of each boat's crew has attended a safety at sea race preparation seminar.
Each seminar features marine industry experts, naval architects, experienced sailors and special keynote speakers, the Pacific Cup Web site explains.
Its first seminar, held in San Francisco last month, covered a number of important topics that focused on getting your boat ready to race. They included equipment selection and proper maintenance procedures, systems selection and preparation, crew selection, seamanship and medical considerations.
A second seminar will be held next month to discuss "all of the aspects of getting the most out of your human capital."
Topics will include crew overboard and recovery operations, life raft use, emergency navigation, staying healthy, getting help, provisioning, driving at night, race tactics, weather considerations, watch schedules and communications.
Because the Pacific Cup is open to all monohull boats measuring 24 feet and over, which meet certain minimum safety requirements, the fleet is divided into classes of eight to 15 boats each.
During the multiple day, staggered start beginning on July 8, classes of similar sized boats will begin the race together, with the largest and fastest boats starting last on July 12.
If this year's race weather proves to be typical, most of the fleet should cross the finish line between July 22 and 25 --which will be a good thing because the awards banquet is scheduled for the 26th.
Similar to the last race two years ago, the boats to watch for the first-to-finish line honors will be Steve Rander's Wylie 70 Rage, out of Portland, Ore., and Phillipe Kahn's Reichel/Pugh 75 Pegasus, representing Waikiki Yacht Club.
Pegasus was the first to finish in 2000, but due to the unusually light tradewinds that year, she wasn't able to upset the Pacific Cup record.
That mark was set by Roy E. Disney's R/P 73 Pyewacket at six days, 14 hours and 23 minutes in 1998, but she hasn't entered the race since.
Ray Pendleton is a free-lance writer based in Honolulu.
His column runs Saturdays in the Star-Bulletin.
He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.