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Transpac 2021 - Team Favonius

At Quantum, we love the thrill of being offshore; the beautiful sunsets and sunrises, miles and miles of flying downwind, and putting our skills to the test. We also love the stories that go along with such epic racing. So we asked Quantum team members competing in the 2021 Transpac to keep us updated on their trip to Hawaii. Read the blog posts from Dehler 46, Team Favonius below.

Photo by Sharon Green

7/17/21 Favonius First Morning on the Transpac

After a fairly typical beat from the start to the west end of Catalina, and a shifty puffy fight past the remaining channel islands we have settled in on our course to Hawaii. Winds are fairly moderate in the 10-12kt range making for an easy transition into our watch routine.

The Favonius is a new Dehler 46 of the performance racer cruiser design genre. A spacious and comfortable interior makes for a nice off watch for the crew but this is also balanced out by a tall carbon rig and bulb keel with plenty of power to get up and go. Owner Greg Dorn first commissioned her in 2019 for local racing on SF Bay and with an eye to longer offshore trips. A new inventory of Quantum sails and some electronics upgrades makes her formidable on the race course but other than that she is fairly stock and can go right back into full cruising mode without too much trouble.

To get ready for Transpac 2021 we first did the Cabo race in March as a shake down. There have been a few other practices in the meantime and detail tweaking. We couldn’t be happier with the prep. We have been spoiled by having veteran boat captain and ocean racer Ashley Perrin prep the boat. She and Captain Greg are the watch captains, Will Paxton (me) is the navigator, regular crew members Matt Sessions and Cam Tuttle have been on the campaign from the start, and we are rounded out by Greg’s son Nick and Cassidy Lynch for some youth and enthusiasm to go along with their small boat racing talents.

Cheers until later,
Will Paxton / Team Favonius

7/19/21 Favonius - God of the West Winds

Favonius, Roman god of the West wind, is the inspiration for the name of our Dehler 46 we are currently surfing to Hawaii. The wind Gods in general have certainly been shining on us and most of the fleet the last several days as we all had a straight shot out to the ridge and the tradewinds in easy going wind strengths in the low teens. This is a sharp contrast to some years past I can remember of reefs and #4 jibs going airborne off waves while no one had much of an appetite! We only had one queasy crew this time and a couple pills and a night's sleep made him right.

The race up to now has been all about setting the boat up to reach efficiently at various wind angles. We started out with a jib on the outboard lead and then sailed for most of a day with our Quantum cabeless code zero. We love this sail as the self supporting luff actually projects like a spinnaker making it fast at lower angles that you normally would need an A3 reacher to cover. The stable luff of the sail also makes it easy on drivers and trimmers as you do not run it over on surfs in the dark. Also speaking of the dark I made sure we deployed all of our night time sailmaker tricks as the luffs of our spinnakers and draft stripes on upwind sails are all vibrant glow in the dark tape and we put sets of white telltails on everything so they are easy to see against the dark modern sail skins. Another good bonus is that our boat captain used a label gun on top of glow tape to mark all of the clutches and key controls so they can be seen without need for blinding flashlights.

After the code zero we switched to our fractional A5 reacher. This sail is heavily built so it can handle the loads of tight reaching and associated snap fills that can occur. This sail fits the space between reaching headsails and running spinnakers and is fractional to help with steering our heavier boat in a sea state at tight angles. We would normally have a reef in with this but the winds were light enough we could go full boogie with the main and we are feeling great about our performance in general as the conditions are matching our strengths and we are sailing well within our chosen sail plan.

Now the big runner is up and the sheets are easing - this is what we came here for! Time to put some sunscreen on and go surfing with 1500 miles of beautiful ocean to go.

Cheers until later,
Navigator Will / Team Favonius

7/23/21 Transpac Report From a Vampire Navigator

The modern navigator is a busy guy. Roll calls and position reports, data downloading, and lots of weather and routing analysis in front of the computer. It’s a far cry from the first Hawaii race I did where the navigator hunches in front of the SSB radio diligently taking notes once a day and tuning in some weather faxes printed on paper! It is in fact a full time job and on our boat like many others, I make my own schedule outside of the rest of the regular sailing crews watch rotation. 

Being one of the more experienced sailors on the boat, I also come with a lot of driving experience meaning I fill in at the helm at night when there is a premium on good driving. The nights have mostly been moonlit (good scheduling by the race organizer!) but several of the nights there are a few hours after the moonset and before sunrise that are truly black and IFR conditions if you understand pilot lingo! This part is my specialty. You have to feel the dip and roll of the boat under your feet while surfing down waves in 20ish kts of wind all the while keeping the spinnaker full and intently watching fast flicking dimmed instruments while calculating heading, TWA, True Wind, and True wind direction along with boat speed to balance it all. You can’t really see your friends in the dark but they are there offering advice while holding on to sheets and vang just in case.

Then with relief the eastern sky starts to light up. The horizon, deck of the boat, your hands, friends and everything else re-materialize. This is just about the time I hand the helm off and go fire up the satellite comms and start writing out the 8am position report, downloading positions and new weather info and plugging it all into Expedition on the computer for analysis. I’m usually done with this around 11am and hit the bunk for a few hours rest. Late afternoon I wake up and refresh the weather data and routing and do some sailing on deck with everyone- dinner hour is the best social hour on the Favonius and we usually have some good surfing music going.

Then it's time for night sailing all over again. Suffice it so say I haven’t needed to put on too much sunscreen this time around hence the vampire reference! The race is zooming by and it's been a great trip thus far. The guys and gals on deck just put in a reef and we are blasting through a squall with 25kt winds. I’m headed up there next!

Navigator Will / Team Favonius

7/25/21 On Final Approach

Please bring your seats to the upright position, stow your tray tables, and pass your trash to the aisle...
We actually saw surprisingly little trash this trip given the northerly routing. Perhaps all those efforts to collect it are working? Surely there is a lot more to do there!

And another side note- I often tell my friends that haven't done it yet who ask what it's like to cross the big blue sea... I tell them to imagine that every 30 mins looking out the window on the plane is a day sailing on the ocean!

But here we are now on final approach with just under 200 miles to go. Up to this point it's been a fairly classic race with a long race on starboard gybe to dig into the lift and then pick your layline on port gybe for the finish knowing that you will be continually headed on the 800 mile trip on port to the Molokai channel. There is a great game of chicken played there as the boat furthest west will be inside the shift and boats to their left will pay a heavy price if they don't lay the finish if they have to take a 2 gybe step over against the shift. On the other hand if you 'over bake it' and go too far there is a long list of boats that had to sneak back up to the Molokai channel with jibs up to make the finish so beware!

This layline call and the final approach to the islands I like to call 'submarine warfare'. Picture every navigator in their hot and sweaty nav station working under red lights in front of their computer, every screen lit up and sat phone online continually hitting refresh trying to gather the most information to make the call. With the 4 hour delay leaders are watching for a change in their competitor's track so they can surmise their current position and cover. Chasers are trying to sneak to the right or maybe make the leader think they are and overstand? Many a boat has gybed and then gybed back at roll call hoping to cause some confusion for the opposing navigator. Often it's a great game of 'he knows that I know that he knows that I know' all the way to the final approach of the finish!

In our fleet final positions are fairly certain and we are focused as a goal on trying to hang onto a slim lead over the SC50 Oaxaca in the next division with my cousin onboard for bragging rights. The boat is littered with funny commentary from the boat captain written on little notes about 'not getting your pole wet' and what sort of person stands in the hatch in front of the instruments. One crew has picked up the title of Rambo for running around with no shirt and his harness on and always seeming to pop out of the hatch at just the right time in this outfit. Yet another shall forever be known as 'Princess' for sneaking a freshwater shower and always needing his personal driving pad to stand on.

As I prepare for my final navigator duties of the 100 mile check in and finish communications I reflect on how quickly we have shrunk the ocean. At the beginning you start with a weather chart that covers half the Pacific Ocean and a zoom out level that you need a globe for context. Now with a couple hundred miles to go all the details of the islands are fleshed out and the whole race seems to fit in the palm of your hand. This race, like my previous 20 or so, will stand out for its own unique sailing challenges and camaraderie. Super looking forward to seeing all my fellow competitors, family, and friends to celebrate our arrival in Waikiki!

Up on deck there is music and laughter and I'm headed up to enjoy the rest of the journey with my friends.

Cheers until later,
Navigator Will / Team Favonius

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