Dancing Bear Transpac Report No. 7: Snafus


Errors. Miscues. Blunders. As Dancing Bear crewman Quinn Olson once read, the guys who win sailboat races are the ones who make the fewest mistakes. So yesterday, when the crew of Dancing Bear suffered one snafu after another, it left them playing catch-up once again.

The day had a promising start. At the 0800 position report, DB had picked up another place in the standings, moving to ninth, and was now just 10 miles astern of the eighth-place boat. The big, new 1.5-ounce chute was up, and the boat was making excellent progress in steady breeze. Then came the first mistake, in the form of a wrapped spinnaker around the headstay. The ensuing rush to drop and gather the kite was a comedy of errors, but the net result wasn't funny. The boat's best, fastest, newest chute--which was meant to be the primary workhorse for the final third of the race--was left in tatters. A date with a Hawaiian sailmaker will be its next stop.

Still, the crew soon had its heavy-air spinnaker up and drawing. But lightning struck again, in the form of another wrap, and this one proved far more difficult to unravel. In fact, not until skipper Mark Schrader was hoisted aloft in a boson's chair was the problem solved and the kite retrieved. The bulletproof spinnaker was soon rehoisted, and DB was once again a going concern. But the miscue had consumed two hours and handed at least 10 miles to the competition.

On it went. The boat's Compaq laptop computer crashed and wouldn't reboot. In a phone call to "Tom" at a tech center in India, Captain Schrader was helpfully advised to "bring it in." A lively exchange ensued.

And finally, the big mahimahi that crewman Dave Logan had snagged on the end of a trolling line shook free just a few feet from the transom. It was a fitting end to a stellar day.

But the crew of Dancing Bear is nothing if not resilient. After a fast night of sailing in winds to 20 knots, the crew, at 0800 today, had maintained its ninth-place spot and was within 20 to 30 miles of roughly half a dozen boats. For full position reports, visit the event's website (www.transpacificyc.org).

By late afternoon, Dancing Bear was within 700 miles of the finish. As all the boats closed on Hawaii, it was shaping up to be an interesting weekend. While the Cal 40 Ralphie has sailed a sensational race and has probably sealed the class win, the final placings for the entire Cal 40 division remain very much up in the air. In other words, Dancing Bear still has time to make hay.

If we can just avoid any more of those damn snafus.

Dancing Bear clear. . . .

To read previous Dancing Bear Transpac Reports, click here.