DJ Johnson 3 Day Around Oahu Race – DAY 1

I recently took part in in the DJ Johnson 3-Day Around Oahu Race aboard a DK-46 sailboat, named Boomerang. As the name of the race implies, the race around Oahu was broken into three stages over three days. Going counter-clockwise around the island – day 1 was Waikiki to Kaneohe, day 2 was Kaneohe to Ko’Olina, and day 3 was Ko’Olina back to Waikiki. We had a crew of 13.

Day 1

Day 1 started out with light wind and a few sprinkles. The wind gradually built a little, along with one or two squalls. In general, a nice mix of sunshine, breeze, warm crystal blue water, and clouds.

For the most part, up to and around past Diamond Head was uneventful close-hauled sailing in deep blue water, with the occasional sea turtle. Eventually, we were becalmed just off of China Walls, with the cliffs getting closer and the swell building. NOAA had predicted a SE swell, being generated from a storm in the Tasman Sea, and they were stacking up here. We were essentially drifting in irons and slatting the sails. No one could tell if we were going forwards or backwards. Each rolling wave would generate a thunderclap of the mainsail popping. Eventually, we put up the wind seeker headsail. Usually when we put up the wind seeker, the wind will kick up, prompting us to take it back down and replace it with a jib. This was no exception. As soon as we hoisted it, a small squall came through and the swell built until we were slamming off the backsides of waves, and taking water over the bow. Now we were finally moving again! Luckily, no one really put any time on us in this lull, as everyone seemed to get stuck in the same hole.

Rounding the island, we were eventually on enough of a reach where we could try out the Code Zero for the first time. Think Genoa meets spinnaker. We hoisted it without a hitch and began putting more time into everyone. After some time, while we were eating lunch, there was a thunderous BOOM and the Code Zero tack let out about three feet, snapping off the tweeker block. The tackline cover had parted at the rope clutch on the cabin top. This was a valuable lesson on not letting the rope clutch hold such large loads. Instead, the tackline should have been secured on a winch. The parted tackline cover presented a challenge with how to get the Code Zero down, as the tackline could not run free for the douse. We were able to winch the tackline down a bit and lash the tack of the Code Zero back onto the bow of the boat with some spare high-modulus line. We then led a retrieving line from the clew over the boom and down into the companionway for a letter box douse. As we doused the sail, we had our bowman cut the lashing on the tack just in time – no shrimp sale today.

We took first overall for the day at Kaneohe. We traveled 35 NM over about 6 hours, with an average speed over ground of around 5.8 knts. One of our competitors, Wasabe, was not so lucky. They got a little too close to a wave electricity generator, and tore up their rudder on the large Amsteel line that was submerged. The Coast Guard was called, and they got towed back to Kaneohe. That was the end of the race for them. They were getting towed back to Ala Wai the next day to assess the full extent of the damage.

After the day’s race, we had a few drinks at the Kaneohe Yacht Club, then a few of us headed over to one of our crew member’s nearby house for pizza and watching Captain Ron. A couple of us, including me, stayed on the boat for the night. The forecasts for the next day were for a complete drifter…

At the start in Waikiki (Heartbeat and Wasabe). Heartbeat (yellow hull) is rated about 3 seconds faster per mile than us.
Light sprinkles, light wind.
Backside of Diamond Head.
Showers in 3D.
Preparing the secret weapon, the Code Zero. Hobbler in place to free up the primary winch from the jib sheet, ready for spinnaker sheet.
It’s tough racing at this level sometimes.
The competition back on the horizon as we approach Kaneohe. First overall on day 1 for Boomerang.
Motoring into Kaneohe. Boomerang’s draft is too deep for the secondary channel near the finish of the race, so we had to motor for another hour to get in through the preferred channel. Good time to get caught up on some beers and get the boat put away.
Kaneohe dead ahead. Keeping an eye out for coral. The intro to Gilligan’s Island was filmed at that island ahead.
Deploying the Danforth for a med-tie, stern to the dock. Later big boats to raft up along side of us.
Boomerang was all put away and crew was at the yacht club enjoying drinks before any other boat arrived.
Dance floor – just be sure you’re wearing non-marking boat shoes.
Kaneohe at dusk.
Kaneohe Yacht Club, where the Pacific Cup Race finishes.
Big boats stern-tied on end of dock.

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