Pacific Cup Yacht Club (PCYC)

Cruising? This Division Looks Like It's Racing

Point Richmond, CA, July, 2016 – Did someone forget to tell the 2016 Pacific Cup Latitude 38 Cruising Division that they’re supposed to be taking it easy? Three days after their barging start, cruisers are dominating the front of the fleet. Here’s a secret: although the skippers may say they are focusing on the “fun” in the Pacific Cup’s tagline “the FUN race to Hawaii” many of the skippers and crew bring decades of sailing and racing experience along with their ice makers and hot showers.

2016 Pacific Cup Latitude 38 Cruising Division
2016 Pacific Cup Latitude 38 Cruising Division

Ticket II leads the charge at the  start.
Ticket II leads the charge at the start.

On Day 4 of racing, the Pac Cup’s pack leader is the Jeanneau 57, Ticket II. Zipping along at speeds over 8 knots, and posting a 202 nm 24 hour run, skipper Rick Niello passed the lead Honu Division A boat Cal 40 Redhead by 4 p.m. on Monday and has stayed in front ever since. This is Niello’s first Pac Cup, but he’s done four Baja Ha Has, and his experienced navigator, Kenneth Grayson, has sailed in two previous Pac Cups.

Jeanneau 42, Aquavit
Jeanneau 42, Aquavit

Next closest to the bar in Kaneohe on the afternoon of Day 3 was the Jeanneau 42, Aquavit, skippered by Michael Hutchinson. He’s done an extensive amount of offshore cruising for 20 years, including the California Coast, San Juans, Sweden, Turkey and Greece. His crew includes navigator Paulo Irulegi, who has been cruising and racing for more than 40 years and holds the exotic sounding Brazilian Navy Master certification. Crew member Magnus Lindblad adds years of Nordic racing expertise while George Slater has experience not just in the Bay Area but also sailing a Hobie around Oahu while he lived there for two years.

Vera Cruz
Vera Cruz

Currently third in the division, the Beneteau First 40, Vera Cruz, can’t have too many folks cheering them on back home because they seem to have brought them all aboard. You’ve got to feel a bit nervous for Michael Johnson’s crew. In addition to his wife and two daughters, he’s more or less Shanghaied the daughters’ boyfriends. “There has been talk of an engagement,” he said mock sternly at the Richmond Yacht Club Bon Voyage Party. “We will see if he passes the test.” The poor potential fiancé has a lot to live up to: Johnson has done 12 Transpacs and a Pac Cup, plus a cruise to Hawaii, a delivery from Samoa to Hawaii, numerous Mexico races and too many other races in California and Hawaii for him to count. His wife and watch captain Vera (the boat's namesake) has been cruising and racing to Hawaii for 10 years, while family friend Rick McDonald who has been brought on as a watch captain has sailed eight Transpacs and one Pacific Cup. The boyfriends know what they are getting into; the team did several Bay Area offshore races as prep. And, no, they don’t plan on using their engine.

Jeanneau 40, Bear Boat
Jeanneau 40, Bear Boat

Why is the Jeanneau 40, Bear Boat, in the Latitude 38 Division and not racing? Skipper Paul Koenig and navigator Rodney Witel look at each other and shrug. "Well, we do have an ice maker…" - says Witel. "But sailing fast is definitely a top priority – right after staying safe and having fun." Koenig, Witel and watch captain Dwayne Richard Sullivan are all instructors at Bay Area sailing school Club Nautique, where the rest of the crew are members. It’s the first Pac Cup for all of them, but Koenig and his crew have been doing lots of racing and ocean outings to get ready.

As the official Pacific Cup Communications Vessel, the Caliber 40, Rapture, has one of the most important responsibilities in the race. Skipper Gregory Newman sailed Rapture in the 2014 Pac Cup and he’s chartered in a variety of exotic places including Tahiti, Seychelles and the Med. His duties include coordinating the morning's mandatory check-ins and afternoon Children’s Hour, a Pac Cup tradition where boats can talk casually to each other, sharing stories and advice for problems that may occur onboard.

Follow the Cruisers at the YBTracker using the link on the Pacific Cup home page.

Caliber 40, Rapture
Caliber 40, Rapture

Upcoming Starts

Pac Cup racing continues with the ORR starts on Thursday and Friday.

Follow the Fleet

Keep track of the standings with the YBTracking on or by downloading the app YB Races. Many of the boats will be posting to blogs during the race and you can find a list at

Photos: Top: The Latitude 38 Cruising Division heads to Hawaii. All photos by official race photographer Leslie Richter / For additional images of Pacific Cup events and racing, contact


About PCYC

The Pacific Cup Yacht Club is responsible for organizing the biennial Pacific Cup, dubbed the "FUN race to Hawaii." Since 1980, the Pacific Cup has been sailed from San Francisco Bay to Hawaii every other year, and since 1988 the finish has been at the warm and welcoming Kaneohe Yacht Club on the island of Oahu. With an emphasis on pre-race preparation for the 2070-mile race, PCYC’s volunteer membership has helped to ensure that thousands of racers have been delighted with their Pacific Cup experience.

For more information about the Pacific Cup, visit, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About Richmond Yacht Club - Since 1932 RYC has been dedicated to serious sailing while at the same time having tremendous fun. The club's Point Richmond location and excellent harbor facilities make it easy to hold both small boat and big boat regattas, and RYC has a proud tradition of hosting world class championships as well as many regattas for Bay Area racers, junior and youth boaters, and its own members. A significant percentage of Pacific Cup competitors have always come from RYC, and RYC is pleased to be the Bay Area host yacht club of the 2016 Pacific Cup race.

For more information about RYC, visit



Video of Dragonsbane, a globe-trotting 43-foot Sceptre, at the 35th Heineken Regatta in St. Maarten, March 2015.
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