DETROIT, Mich. (August 18, 2019) — Allie Blecher (Long Beach, Calif.) won the 17th U.S. Women’s Match Racing Championship with a 2-0 victory over Giselle Camet Nyenhuis (San Diego, Calif.) in Sunday’s Final.
Blecher, the 2010 Quantum Collegiate Female Sailor of the Year and a member of the US Sailing Team in 2013, won the Allegra Knapp Mertz Trophy for the first time in her second attempt. She finished runner-up in last year’s championship held in San Francisco. This year she won an abbreviated final that was reduced to a best-of-three from a best-of-five due to thunderstorms in the Detroit area.
Long Beach, Calif., August 11, 2019 – Dustin Durant continued his winning streak today and locked in his place at the US Match Racing Championship Finals at St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco this October 3 through October 6.
After a 3-year hiatus from match racing, Durant and crew have officially got their groove back. After the 8 and 0 record yesterday, Durant said that he was a little nervous at the start, but following a practice race and logging their first win, it felt that he and his five crewmembers got back in the groove. “The teamwork was there,” the LBYC sailor said.
Given that Durant is a four-time Congressional Cup Skipper and a two-time California Dreamin’ Series winner, and following yesterday’s sweep, the top-placed finish today was not a surprise. But with two races scheduled for today, anything could have happened.
The 31-year-old skipper shared the win with Shane Young on main, Neil Rietdyk and Wes Bryne on trim, Jack Bazz in the pit and Ian Paice upfront on the bow.
San Diego Yacht Club’s Chris Nesbitt will be one of the skippers Durant will face in October. Nesbitt also had a second strong day. Currently ranked 29th in the world and 5th in the US, Nesbitt competed here earlier this year in both the Butler Cup and Ficker Cup and has already qualified for the US Match Racing Championship. He won his first match today against Trent Turigliatto who arrived for today’s races with a sprained ankle and (adding insult to injury), incurred a penalty at the start.
Nesbitt’s second loss of the series came in the second race, and for a second time to Durant.
The second skipper qualified for the Championships is Cameron Feves, who won a qualifier in Chicago earlier this year and is the reigning Rose Cup winner. Feves didn’t have a strong showing Saturday, but he and his crew started to get to a better feel for the complexities of the Catalina 37s by the end of racing yesterday and put up a strong fight today in an attempt to break the three-way tie for third.
The day’s first flight saw all three seasoned skippers, Nesbitt, Liz Hjorth and Durant facing off against their younger rivals and schooled them handily. With the win in that flight, Hjorth, sailing for California Yacht Club, secured third place. Momentarily.
In the second flight, Feves turned up the heat, winning the race and drawing her back into the fold.
When LBYC’s sailing coach, Trent Turigliatto beat Colton Gerber in the last race, both young rivals had scored a win against Hjorth, which resulted in how the third-place position finishers ranked.
Colton Gerber, a 23-year old Corpus Christi, Texas resident sailing for Ann Arbor Yacht Club finished in last place but will go home with a boatload of experience. A lengthy collegiate sailing resume garnered an invitation to this event. But the Catalina 37s, the largest boat he and the crew have sailed, challenged the team.
“Boat handling deficiencies caught up to us pretty quick,” Gerber said. “Trial by fire, it’s how it works in sailing.” He felt good about the progress he and the crew made by the end of the day and looked to improve boat speed day. The trip to California was also an alumni reunion of sorts as his entire crew is fellow University of Michigan alumni, with one crewmember in his senior year.
Even Parker Mitchell, who handles the main for Nesbitt, said the boats really put boat skills to the test. “It’s hard to win races without strong boat handling skills,” he said.
This race was also the first time Feves had sailed the Catalina 37. Along with the bigger boat, he picked up a few crew members with varying degree of experience. The 18-year-old, sailing for Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club, said they learned as they went; catching a couple of flags that didn’t go their way, but overall, were pleased with the progress made in just 10 races.
The USMRC Finals in San Francisco will be sailed in J/22s, boats that both Nesbitt and Feves have experience with. “We want to win that one,” Feves said.
This qualifier event was sailed in Long Beach Sailing Foundation’s fleet of identical Catalina 37 sailboats donated by Frank Butler, the president of Catalina Yachts, for use in Long Beach Yacht Club’s signature event, the Congressional Cup. They are used in many events throughout the year that test many a skipper’s sailing skills and the further development of those skills.
Although this was also Turigliatto’s debut as skipper on the Catalina 37, the young racer has frequently sailed as crew on the boats for other skippers. And as Durant’s win today affirms, experience, teamwork, and local knowledge is a recipe for success.
Racing started before noon today, on a course off the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier. Winds of 9 – 10 knots filled in early creating elevated sailing conditions typical of late afternoons.
Racing has concluded in six of the seven 2020 Olympic class sailing events at the Pan American Games Lima 2019. Team USA had representatives in all six Medal Races and delivered Medals in four of the five that were sailed. Riley Gibbs (Long Beach, Calif.) and Anna Weis (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) clinched a Gold Medal in the Nacra 17 fleet. Charlotte Rose (Houston, Texas) and Pedro Pascual (West Palm Beach, Fla.) earned Silver Medals in the Laser Radial and RS:X fleets, respectively. Charlie Buckingham (Newport Beach, Calif.) won the Bronze in the Laser fleet.
Grab your Mai Tai🍹, sit back, and enjoy the culmination of all the hard work by the sailors, sponsors, volunteers, staff, and the local support that made 50th edition of the LA – Honolulu Transpacific Yacht Race such a success.
HONOLULU, HAWAII – “Aaaalloooh-haaah!” This greeting repeated in unison by the crowd of over 600 attendees is how Transpacific Yacht Club Commodore Tom Hogan commenced the Awards Ceremony to the 50th edition of the LA – Honolulu Transpacific Yacht Race on Friday night. For the next two hours this audience was entertained by local Hawaiian dancers, photo and video images of the race, a few stories to provide context, and an awards ceremony emceed by Chuck Hawley where dozens of beautiful and historic trophies were presented to winners in numerous categories of multihull and monohull divisions in the race.
With 10 divisions of monohulls and 2 divisions of multihulls, and awards given to the winners, runners-up and in the larger classes third-place finishers as well, there were lots of leis and trophies distributed in this ceremony. Here is a summary of each:
The Cal 40’s are an important part of Transpac history, and this year had an impressive turnout of 6 boats. Unfortunately one had to turn back, so they missed the fight into the finish between the top three. The Eddy family’s Callisto emerged from that fight on top, while Rodney Pimentel’s Azure and Don Jesberg’s Viva margin for second and third, respectively, was only 2 1/2 minutes in corrected time after 12 days of racing.
Division 9 was one of the smallest with four boats, but had a great diversity of boat types. Ian Ferguson’s Wasa 55 Nadelos finished only 3 minutes ahead of Christian Doegl’s Swan 461 Free, but in corrected time managed to win the class by over 13 hours.
Division 8 was another small and diverse class of boats, made smaller by two retirements early in the race due to rudder issues. Nonetheless Dean Treadway’s Farr 36 Sweet Okole came out on top but not by much: by just under 8 minutes in corrected time.
Like Divisions 8 and 9, Division 7 was also a very diverse class of entries that was also reduced by two retirements due to rudder problems. Chubasco campaigned by Tom Akin, John Carpenter, Doug Baker and Will Durant has a long history in Transpac, having been built in 1937, and went through an extensive refit of 2 1/2 years to be the winning team this year. A moment of silence was observed in the awards ceremony for crew member Jim Lincoln who passed after the conclusion of the race.
Division 6 had 11 boats an only one retirement, with another (David Chase and Carlos Brea’s Fast 42 Uhambro) that broke their mast but finished the race under jury rig. This was the fastest of the five classes starting in the first wave of the race, and aside from having to dive south for a little while, the wind never stopped for them. Winner of this division was Scott Grealish’s J/121 BlueFlash from Oregon with not only an all-amateur team to qualify for the Corinthian Division, but also two father/son pairs on their team of six.
Division 5 was the smallest class in the race with only three boats because of the second wave of starters they were not a good fit with the other racier boats in the other classes. Tom Barker’s Swan 60 Good Call finished an entire day ahead of his class rivals, and corrected time compressed that margin to just a couple hours.
Division 4 was a group of 11 boats often called the Fabulous Fifties being composed of all Santa Cruz-designed and built 50’s and 52’s. With many of these having years and years of experience, this is often a highly-competitive class, and this year was no exception: Michael Moradzadeh’s Santa Cruz 50 Oaxaca won by a margin of less than 12 minutes.
With no roadblocks on the race course and the opportunity for little deviations due to the position of the High, many predicted the overall winner of the race would come from Division 3’s 13 boats, and it did. Congratulations to Shawn Dougherty, Jason Andrews and their team on their J/125 Hamachi for their outstanding performance.
For many years Division 2 was the class that had all the first-to-finish boats in Transpac. With a strong turnout of 9 entries this class was also going to be closely watched due to all the collective years of Transpac experience and having some of the best teams on the course. Regrettably two of the class members dropped out, but the competition remained keen among those who went on the Hawaii, with Jim Yabsley and Mary Compton’s team on their R/P 70 Taxi Dancer winning by a close margin of less than 3 minutes in corrected time.
Division 1 was the largest class on the race course with 15 boats of the fastest types of monohulls, and ranged widely from 40 to 100 feet in length. From this class is where the Barn Door and Merlin Trophies reside for fastest elapsed time performance, but in corrected time this year’s winner is Tom Holthus’s Pac 52 Bad Pak.
Had it not been for the hiccup the first night the Saturday starters tried to get off the coast, Multihull Division 0 could have had a real high-speed chess game all the way to Hawaii. But it was Jason Carroll’s MOD 70 Argo that just got their nose into the pressure first and sped away from all others to win this class.
Blog followers enjoyed getting the daily stories of what food was being served on Lior Elazary’s Lagoon 400S2 Celestra, so even though they were the entry with the longest elapsed time of 13 days 20 hours, TPYC congratulates them for winning Multihull Class 0A and also one of our sponsors, The Moorings, for the business they will receive now that everyone knows how comfortable it is sailing these boats offshore.
In addition to these performance prizes, numerous special awards were given for deeded perpetual trophies not only in categories such as First Monohull to Finish (the Barn Door Trophy, won this year by Jim Cooney and Samantha Grant’s VPLP 100 Comanche), or the Rudi Choi Award for the First to Finish Multihull (won by Argo), but also special Navigator Awards to the navigators on each division-winning entry, the Don Clothier Award for the fastest cruiser under 50 feet (Michael Lawler’s North Wind 47 Traveler) and the Tail End Charlie award to the last finisher on the course (won by Jason Seibert’s Schock 40 Gamble).
Some of these special awards are in remembrance to individuals who have helped make Transpac the legendary race it has become and are therefore recognised as an important part of the heritage of this event. One is the Mark S. Rudiger Award (aka the Rudi Trophy) dedicated to world-class navigator Mark Rudiger who not won this race many times but other prominent ocean races around the world. The perpetual trophy is a special brass sextant built in 1905 donated by another famous navigator, Stan Honey. The criteria for winning this award is for demonstrated skills in celestial and traditional navigation, and this year it was presented by another well-accomplished navigator, John Jourdane, to Paul Kamen, better known by his nom de plume Max Ebb in the Bay Area’s popular sailing monthly Latitude 38.
Another was the new Ronald L. Burla Trophy for Media Excellence in memory of a Transpac sailor from the 1930’s who went on to be a founding member of the Waikiki YC and tireless promoter of the race as Publicity Director of the Hawaii Visitor’s Bureau in the 1950’s and ’60’s. Burla’s daughters Michele Burla Parker and Pam Burla presented this new trophy to Dallas Kilponen sailing on Patrick Broughton’s 1964-built S&S 73 ketch Kialoa II, for his outstanding video shot, edited and submitted during the race. The jury noted Kilponen’s outstanding ability to capture the history, joy and aloha spirit inherent to racing in the Transpac.
This video is uploaded to YouTube at this link:
The Nash Family Corinthian Award was given to Thomas Garnier’s crew on this J/125 Reinrag2 for the best performance in the fleet for an all-amateur team…they finished 5th in Division 3 and 5th overall.
Yet another new trophy was established by the Storm Trysail Club this year to be awarded to the 3-boat team which compiles the best score, as determined by using the total of each team member’s percentage placement in its respective class. Eleven teams entered this competition, which was won by Naughty Blue Tequila team comprised of Nadelos (“naughty”), Azure (“blue”) and Oaxaca (“tequila”). So with a first in class by Oaxaca and Nadelos, and a 3rd in class by Azure, this team secured the trophy for 2019.
Finally, a prize not planned in the program but appropriately presented at the ceremony was US Sailing’s Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal awarded to Roy Disney and the crew of his Andrews 68 Pyewacket for their outstanding efforts in the rescue of John Sangmeister and his crew of the Santa Cruz 70 OEX. The rudder damage, fast sinking and subsequent safe and timely rescue of the OEX team made headlines around the world for the Pyewacket team’s exemplary seamanship and sportsmanship to come quickly to the aid of a competitor in trouble at sea.
Having an auditorium full of peers who profoundly understand and appreciate the risk of offshore sailing, this dramatic story retold in detail by Sangmeister elicited tremendous emotion throughout the audience, and when Disney took the stage the entire room rose in ovation to salute him and his crew, who were subsequently joined by the crew of OEX as well.
The honor conveyed both in the Hanson award and that bestowed by the salute of the auditorium filled with the sailors, families, friends, organizers and sponsors of Transpac 50 will be remembered as one of the great moments in Transpac history. Disney has already been nominated for Seahorse Sailor of the Month…vote for him here at this link: https://seahorsemagazine.com/sailor-of-the-month/vote-for-sailor-of-the-month.
He passed away in his sleep on July 24th, 4 days after finishing the 2019 TransPac race. He was a fixture in the Long Beach sailing community, a member of Alamitos Bay Yacht Club and will be truly missed.
HONOLULU, HAWAII – With Jason Seibert’s Schock 40 Gamble making it across the finish line this morning after a long passage of almost 11 days, the Transpacific Yacht Club can declare all boats have finished this year’s 50th edition to the LA-Honolulu Race. The final tally of boats completing the course successfully is 81, with 678 sailors aboard. Nine yachts retired from this year’s race: seven returned to the mainland, one continued to Hawaii, and one sank at sea.
Nearly without exception, all were glad they came, with plenty of tales of adventure and challenge running the gamut of topics common to ocean racing: high speeds and low speeds, gourmet cooking to freeze dried mush, perfect moonlit nights to scary squalls, freezing cold to baking in the sun with no relief. For some the trip was without incident, while others ran into one problem after another and the trip was spent troubleshooting these to get them to Hawaii in one piece.
The skipper of the last finisher had a lot of this onboard, but admitted often the boat was less an issue than the team being able to adapt to this high-speed, low-freeboard canting-keeled rocket ship. Seibert, from Lakewood Yacht Club in Seabrook, Texas, also had other challenges ahead of the race: he had his boat measured in accordance to race requirements, but due to the boat’s canting keel needed more assurance presented to the event’s technical committee that the boat could comply with other safety and stability rules. So he knew modifications were needed.
It turns out that just understanding these requirements to know what to modify is a challenge, being buried in the arcane language of the ISO standards. For Seibert Transpac has been a dream of his to do, but being in Texas he was running short of time in April to have everything done to make the race.
“We finally got the calculations done and approved, we were fortunate to find a sponsor, and I drove the boat to San Diego,” said Seibert. “The keel normally cants to 55° the calculations showed we needed to limit this to 37.5° to meet the requirements. So we removed the bulb, re-set the stops on the keel system, re-attached the bulb, checked the stops, then re-measured the list angle after launching. Everything checked out.”
It was on the high-speed reaching legs in the beginning of the race where Seibert feels they were most compromised in performance by missing the normal stability needed for their sail plan, so the team had to shift gears to find correct solutions. And when the breeze went aft the boat was “a handful” to drive due to its light weight and the confused sea states: driving took full attention, and Gamble did not have many experienced drivers aboard.
“The boat took everything we threw at it,” said Seibert. “We just needed to understand better how to handle the conditions. I’m still happy – we set out to get here, and we’re here.”
For the next several days, Ala Wai Harbor will be abuzz with activity as the Aloha welcome parties shift to seeing newly showered and shaved race crews rinse, dry, and fold sails and gear for storage or shipping, while the delivery crews start coming in to make their lists, fix the systems that broke, and make ready for the deliveries back to the mainland. The Australians are preparing for a longer trip headed west and south for the South Seas en route back to Oz. Others are readying their boats for delivery back to California on one of the Pasha Hawaii roll-on roll-off ships on their regular service to and from Hawaii.
Many will stay with friends or family for a short holiday here either on Oahu or another island, some will attend the evening sponsor parties, and some will attend the Navigator’s debrief meeting on Friday morning. Some have flown home and will come back just for the Awards Ceremony on Friday where an impressive celebration awaits with Hawaiian entertainment, slide and video shows of the race, and dozens of stunning trophies will be awarded to celebrate another successful edition of this great race.
And some don’t have many plans at all, other than lay by the pool, sip on a Mai Tai, and revel on how good it feels to be back on terra firma.
HONOLULU, HAWAII – By sunset on Monday, only a handful of yachts were still at sea heading towards the finish in the 50th edition of the LA-Honolulu Transpacific Yacht Race, organized by the Transpacific YC. This day was overcast and almost dreary compared to the bright tropical sunshine of all the other finish days, and with the final stretch after many days at sea many teams were more than ready to cross the finish at Diamond Head.
A source of fatigue and frustration for many was the unusual sea state produced by cross-swells, making the smaller and slower boats in particular difficult to sail efficiently. One team sent a message saying “On land, I will miss thrashing about the boat, getting vibrant bruises that connect to form geographic regions all over my body.” Kidding aside, for some this was also the source of damage that had serious effects on their race.
For example, Steve Ashley’s Beneteau First 40.7 Onde Amo reported last night the rudder on the boat had “been lost” so they were retiring from the race and proceeding to Honolulu using the emergency rudder. No reports of injuries or damage, they have about 130 miles to go and are proceeding at a pace of about 5-6 knots. No word yet on the cause, but the reports from the course and stories from arrivals have indicated the challenging conditions from choppy and confused seas has been hard on helmsman, trimmers, sails and gear.
A rolling sea can make it hard to keep the spinnaker filled, and repeated collapsing and filling will not only be slow, but can wear down and even break sails…Russ Johnson’s Jeaneau 52.2 Blue Moon has reported they blew up their last spinnaker and are proceeding under headsail.
Another example is Carlos Brea’s and David Chase’s Fast 42 Uhambo, who as reported last night suffered breakage to the top of their carbon spar. Yet the ultimate cause may have started with a serious spinnaker wrap a few days earlier that was so severe they were unable to untangle the sail from the spar and headstay, and were forced to sail with the mainsail only for nearly three days.
“The sea state was really confused on this race,” said Chase. “Except for one on our team, we have a crew that is new to Transpac.” Chase went on to explain getting the driving in this sea state in sync with the trim was a challenge, and this helped cause the wrap. Eventually they got it unraveled, they reset the spinnaker, and resumed racing at full speed.
But then sea state and wind strength conspired once again to cause a broach, and in the confusion the afterguy was released, the sail loaded and pulled the spar over, breaking at the third spreader set below the hounds. The team then set about fashioning a jury rig with a headstay attached to the top of the spin pole track, and a storm trysail to fly in the new foretriangle.
“For a while we tried two headsails to go downwind, keeping the main centered, and we could go 5-6 knots,” said Brea. But this rig reverted back to the trysail when on the final reach from Koko Head to Diamond Head.
The team arrived looking exhausted, but got a rousing welcome on arrival in the Ala Wai Harbor and high praise for their valiant efforts and determination. After a few mai tais and some puu puu’s at their Aloha Party their spirits revived.
Another tale of sea state challenge came from Dustin Durant who raced with the large and mostly pro team on Chubasco. He said the cross seas made it tough to drive, trim and maneuver on this 67-foot renovated S&S classic yawl. Being an accomplished match racing skipper from Long Beach, Durant is accustomed to precision boat placement on the race course, but as a helmsman on Chubasco he met his match.
“Going downwind I’ve never driven a boat so hard to steer,” he said. Gybing was incredibly difficult in those seas with the enormous spin pole and having to also gybe the huge main and mizzen as well. It took all of our team’s skills to make this happen, this boat is simply not set up for trimming and boat handling like a race boat. We had to think through everything to not damage the boat or hurt anyone on it.”
Off watch was no better, with the boat rolling side to side in the sea state in what were cramped cabins for a lot of the crew. The galley is forward on Chubasco, and Durant claimed the motion was such that while cooking “the eggs flipped themselves.”
The first to finish Cal 40 from Division 10 was The Eddy Family’s Callisto, who crossed the finish line at Diamond Head buoy at 5:11 PM local time, while the next boat in the class finishing an hour later was Don Jesberg’s Viva, followed by Rodney Pimentel’s Azure coming in just about an hour after that at sunset. The Cal 40’s are an emotional favorite at the Transpac, being for some the pivotal design that bridged the old and new era’s of yacht design, and one that in their heydey dominated the top results in this race.
“This last day the wind was higher than forecast, a good 20-30 knots,” said Callisto navigator Kerry Deaver. “No one got any sleep, but you never on the final push in this race.” Callisto sailed with only four on board: Deaver, Jim Eddy, Park Eddy and Fred Berg. “We were kept pretty busy,” she said. “When you were not sailing you were sleeping, and so we did not have the luxury of plotting tactical moves coming into the finish – we just sailed with what we had and it worked out.”
More on the tactics of the division winners will come in a final analysis report from the Navigator’s meeting held after every Transpac.
In the meantime finishers will continue to fill “Transpac Row” in the Ala Wai harbor, with the rate slowing down considerably from this time yesterday. The “Tail end Charlie” award appears to be reserved for Jason Siebert’s Schock 40 Gamble who is now about 300 miles out.