The Pacific Cup Race, with a course from San Francisco to Oahu, uses staggered starts to launch its different divisions of competitors. Staggering the starts helps ensure all of the racers complete their voyage around the same time, making it more convenient to stick around for the week of celebrations following the race. When asked about the staggered starts, Elisa Williams, public relations media writer for the Pac Cup, added, “We want everyone to arrive in a reasonable window not just for the parties but for the Kaneohe-side race committee volunteers”.
Racers are greeted by members of the Kaneohe Yacht Club when they reach their final destination of Kaneohe Bay on the north coast of Oahu. Volunteers from the yacht club monitor the finish line, escort boats from the finish area through the reef, and meet the tired racers with Leis and “consumable tokens of welcome” at the dock. The week following the arrival of the sailors includes parties and social events and culminates with the presentation of awards on Friday, July 29.
Elisa also mentioned that they don’t want the start days spread out so much that boats are sailing in drastically different circumstances. “We try to keep them close enough in start days that there aren’t disparate weather conditions,” she explained, “but there’s always a risk that some days will have better starting conditions than others. That doesn’t appear to be an issue this year”.
On Monday, July 11 the first three of the eight divisions of racers headed under the Golden Gate Bridge and toward the warm shores of Kaneohe Bay. Three more groups departed on Tuesday, and Thursday and Friday each saw one of the two remaining divisions setting sail in the afternoon. A wide range of boats compete in the Pacific Cup and most finish the race in about 10 to 14 days. The Honu division is the first to start and contains the slowest-rated of the competing boats. The divisions get progressively faster until finally the BMW of San Rafael ORR division sets off from San Francisco.
The race has kicked off to a smooth start this year with beautiful weather and good conditions. A few competitors have had to turn back for various reasons, but others still in the race predict that powerful winds will make for a fast finish.