Stuart Dahlgren, owner of UK Sailmakers Northwest, in Canada, writes about his favorite sailing memory of 2018, which happened while racing his Santa Cruz 70 WESTERLY in the Pacific Cup, a 2,070-mile race from San Francisco to Hawaii. Here is Stuart’s reminiscence.
“2018 was a busy sailing year for me. With my usual busy local racing season and running a large sail loft, I raced my own boat in the Pacific Cup and flew to Europe to do the 630-mile Rolex Middle Sea Race with customers. Each day on the water always leaves me with memories usually good ones. I think my favorite memory of sailing in 2018, however, is from the 2018 Pacific Cup race.
“The last night of the race we were sailing in perfect, windy tradewinds (20-25 knots of breeze) with long, round Pacific swells. We had just peeled from the A3 back to the A2+ after being headed in the late afternoon/early evening. We were now pretty much sailing straight at the mark with the pole back a couple feet off the headstay. These were perfect Santa Cruz 70 conditions. I took the helm just after midnight and had three hours of some of the finest sailing I have ever done.
“Hawaii races are fantastic—but what makes them truly special tends to be the last 48 hours. It was a night watch and perfect sailing. After almost 2,000 miles I asked myself whether or not the crew would mutiny if I told them we were just going to keep going. As it was, we wanted to finish this race and beat our Pacific Northwest competitor RAGE, a Wiley 70.
“When my watch shift ended, I grabbed a quick hour of sleep and then came back on deck to watch the sun rise over Molokai. It was a magic evening and morning of sun, wind, and water. We listened to music, laughed about events of the past week at sea, and discussed our cravings for after the finish.
“The two pictures show both the beginning and the end of our race. The first is WESTERLY beating out of San Francisco Bay and the second one shows us approaching the finish line at the end of a 2,000-mile race. After after crossing the line, you have about 3/4 of a mile to get the kite down and turn 90 degrees to avoid the reef and enter the Kāneʻohe Bay channel. The crew is shown cleaning up the deck and getting rid of the leeward strut as we wouldn’t need to gybe again. You can see we have a letter box drop retrieving line rigged to a stanch block on the weather rail.
“It was a perfect race, a perfect night, and a perfect crew with which to share it all.”
Sailmaking is what Stuart Dahlgren does. Sharing is passion for sailing is why he does it.