Express 37 Limitless on the move! PacCup 2016 update via satellite

Hi everyone, sorry again for the lack of updates, it’s taken a while to get everything dialed in. We discovered the issue with the satellite phone connection — a bad USB cord as it turned out. Who would have thought! It was very frustrating trying to use a system that seemed to be working in every way except it would time out right during the actual transfer of data. We’re able to now send email as expected, so will try to get a few blog posts in during the rest of the race. Using a computer is much better for this than typing everything character by character into our backup satellite texting gizmo (a Delorme inReach). Thanks to everyone who has been wishing us well and keeping us in their thoughts.

The first couple of days were very wet. We were traveling upwind, and couldn’t really dry out ever completely. This is the traditional “uphill” portion of the race, and was physically and mentally exhausting, with no time for anything other than racing, fixing things, eating and sleeping. We got a pretty decent start in front of St. Francis Yacht Club on Tuesday and were excited to learn the next morning at the 0930 roll call that we had established a good spot in our division. In the meantime, it was all about racing hard and getting to the breeze as quickly as we could.

We’re doing a 4/3 watch system, in 2 teams. Team A is Doug (our fearless navigator, doing his 10th PacCup / Transpac race), Mike (aka “Pops” aka “Mr. I can and will fix anything”), and Gabriel (the most junior member of the crew). Team B is Shawn (skipper of Limitless), Cliff (an amazing driver and sailmaker who knows every dirty joke that was ever invented, and who is doing his 20th Pacific ocean crossing race with us), and Lori (fearsome foredeck and person also helping make sure people get sandwiches and their vitamins). The way it works is this: at 0600 Team A is on for 4 hours while Team B rests / has downtime, then at 1000 it switches, then 1400 again switches for the final 4 hour shift. Evening / night shifts are 3 hours in duration. This means practically getting about 1.5-2 hours of sleep at a time during the night, and slightly longer rest times during the day, with each team alternating days for a 2 4 hour rest period. Today (Saturday, July 16), it is Team A’s 2nd rest period. Mike and Doug are sacked out, and Gabriel is typing this blog post while everyone else is above decks on watch driving and making the boat go as fast as possible.

We’ve been working our way along the race course and are almost to the halfway point, which we’re all excited to get to. The past few days have included some pretty challenging downwind driving conditions, with swells coming from multiple directions, and instructions to drive as deeply and quickly as possible, which is tricky when the wind and waves are tossing the boat around. It takes masterful concentration and practice to do this kind of driving well, and Shawn, Cliff, Doug and Mike have all been very generous in coaching the newbies (Lori and Gabriel) with tips for doing it better.

We’ve gotten into a good routine, and crew morale remains high. Everyone has their appetite back after the first couple of days adjusting to life at sea, and we’re eating delicious meals every evening. Each morning’s check-in period gives us new information about our competition and where we stand, and it’s a very interesting race from a strategic perspective because the choices we make in terms of sails, direction and trim all will contribute to how well we do. We can’t see any of the other racers on the water, but we know they’re out there, also doing their best to make it to Hawaii first.

While we’ve taken a number of pictures and short videos, we’ll have to wait to share those until we get back to land, since our satellite uplink bandwidth is extremely limited. In the meantime, THANK YOU again for all of your support, well wishes and encouragement. It’s meant the world to each of us.

Until next time, team Limitless, all smiles.