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Zephyrus IV, Pyewacket running 1-2 in good breeze

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by Rich Roberts

Honolulu Hawai`i (July 4 1999) -- The maxi sleds Zephyrus IV and Pyewacket were running a close 1-2 for the early lead in the 40th Transpacific Yacht Race to Hawai`i Sunday and in full stride after a slow start in light wind off the Palos Verdes peninsula Saturday.

Even more encouraging, the fleets of smaller boats and Cruiser division competitors that started earlier were reporting brisk winds of 15 to 21 knots across the board, indicating that the big boats will have breeze at least for the next few days.

When the boats reported their positions at Sunday morning's roll call, the 75-foot Zephyrus IV, representing the St Francis and San Diego Yacht Clubs, led Roy E. Disney's 72-foot Pyewacket from Los Angeles YC by one mile after sailing 219 nautical miles in the first 19 hours. Pyewacket had overcome its poor start to put nine miles on the next nearest pursuer, Doug Baker's 68 1/2-foot Magnitude from Long Beach.

The question now is how long it will take the faster boats to overtake the Cruisers, who started last Tuesday. The Cruiser leaders, Kim Stebbens' 41-foot Hurricane from Seattle's Sloop Tavern YC and Bob Pace's 46-foot Esprit from Oceanside YC, are 446 miles in front of the Division 4 group of 40-foot racers led by Don Clothier's 45-foot Tower from Waikiki YC and 578 ahead of Zephyrus IV.

In the race for overall victory on corrected time-a measure of which crew sails its boat nearest its calculated potential - Zephyrus IV and Pyewacket also were 1-2, followed by Kjeld Hestehave's older, 73-foot, black-hulled Velos. The former two boats will owe Velos about 38 hours in handicap time at the end.

Sunday morning's charts indicated that the ace navigators - Mark Rudiger on Zephyrus IV and Stan Honey on Pyewacket - were already picking their spots to be when the trade winds kick in from behind in two or three days. Although their distance sailed was almost the same, the boats had split as Rudiger positioned Zephyrus IV on a track 38 miles south of Pyewacket.

Traditionally, diving south is the proper ploy for finding better wind, but apparently Honey prefers to keep Pyewacket nearer the direct line to Hawaii - the course favored by Tower, which has the guiding hand of the veteran John Jourdane. Apparently, Jourdane saw no point in dipping south when he already had the best breeze in the fleet.

Meanwhile, medic Steve Rossi on Stealth Chicken, sailed by the Alamitos Bay Syndicate from Long Beach, filed the race's first e-mail message Sunday:

"Chicken Droppings - Day 1: Now that was a different exit from SoCal-passing north of San Nich [Nicholas Island]! Now blasting along with a code 4 jib and 1X reefed main. Got a little nippy pre-dawn as we entered the colder water of the California current. All coop inhabitants (crew) focused on grinding down our Div III rivals, most of whom seemed to have a touch of pace on us in the upwind action yesterday."

Photos of the starts, e-mail from boats, daily position reports, crew lists and other information are available on the race web page.

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Last Modified: Monday - 19990705.10:23 HST
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