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May 6th

Holy Church of the Pacific Cup

Posted by // May 6, 2014 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

Racing,

Squall1-L

By Sutter Schumacher

From the web site of the Pacific Cup, starting 67 boats, San Francisco Bay-Kaneohe Bay in July, 2014

John F Kennedy didn’t get it quite right when he proclaimed that humans are tied to the sea in part because their blood and the oceans share the same salinity, but the effect of human communion with the sea is undeniable.

Racers know this intuitively. They get soaked, bruised, sunburnt, wind-burned, physically exhausted, and sometimes worse; they often end up paying a fortune (directly or indirectly) for the privilege of doing so; and then they do it all again the next day.

The exact nature of salt-water immersion varies for everyone: on the water or in it, inshore or around islands, offshore or coastal. Mexico or the South Pacific, The Caribbean or the Med. Some hardy souls even prefer high-latitude sailing (though I doubt much full immersion takes place there). My salt-water communion is most holy when in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

I always suspected this to be so, but any lingering doubts were erased when I raced in the Pacific Cup in 2004 and I was transformed by life lessons, forged connections with previous generations since gone, and developed an increased self-awareness that’s opened new doors of opportunity.

Mind you, I’m no stranger to ocean racing. Races are mile markers in our family history. Working backward from whether it was around the time of a Mexico or a Hawaii race (to gauge the season), or whether it was a TransPac or Pacific Cup year (odd-numbered or even), I recall when things happened. For example, my parents’ engagement coincided with the 1973 TransPac (or so I’m told; I wasn’t yet a gleam in my father’s eye). My parents bought a new house in the summer of 1988 (my mom signed the papers while dad was at Block Island Race Week), and I learned to drive a car in 1992 (just after we finished the Coastal Cup – Santa Barbara edition).

My family’s ocean passages span several centuries, but our tradition of racing between California and Hawaii started in the mid-20th century with a grandfather I never knew. A couple of years later, my dad launched his Hawaii race career. My mom even joined him once (admittedly the last time she chose to sail offshore) – although between untimely deaths and lifestyle changes, we’ve never done a trans-generational trans-pacific race.

So you could argue fate determined that it was a matter of when, not if, I’d arrive in Hawaii by sailboat. It wasn’t an automatic entitlement, however. It took a lot of patience and hard work before I got my chance, when I was invited to be on the crew of a 46-ft racer/cruiser of the ’04 Pacific Cup.

Despite the folklore, photos and home movies – or perhaps because of it – I didn’t really appreciate what I was in for. More than just a matter of ticking an item off my bucket list and more than a first-hand story to tell about the soft trade winds and that sweet aloha welcome, 10 years later my Pacific Cup experience remains a lifetime highlight to date.

tikibhorizon-MIf you’re a Pac Cup veteran, you know what I’m talking about. After all, you’re a repeat offender, in the best possible way. But for the rookies, who are about to embark on the journey of a lifetime, be forewarned that you will never be the same again.

If you’re a Pac Cup veteran, you know what I’m talking about. After all, you’re a repeat offender, in the best possible way. But for the rookies, who are about to embark on the journey of a lifetime, be forewarned that you will never be the same again.

What follows are a few of the lessons I learned and continue to think about. Some are vain or trivial, while others are life preserving. But all struck me 10 years ago, and remain true to my experience today.

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This article was syndicated from BLUE PLANET TIMES

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