Winners and non-winners alike given warm Hawaiian welcomes upon arrival, any time of day or night
HONOLULU, HI – A large wave of finishers in the 2017 Transpac have arrived in the Ala Wai last night and in the pre-dawn hours to start to fill up the slip spaces set aside in the Marina for the finishers, known as Transpac Row. From tallest mast to shortest, most of the race entries are moored here, bedecked with leis and ti leaves as symbols of Aloha hospitality from a culture that recognizes the special nature of having completed a long sea voyage.
After crossing the finish line, all boats are escorted to the narrow (sometimes treacherous) entrance to the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor, a safe haven from the Pacific swells. Donned in their flowered shirts, the crews stand on deck to be greeted like conquering heroes by the amplified sounds of native drums, slack key guitar music and a loud and resounding “Aaaahhh- looohhh – haaaaah” given by staff commodore Howie Mednick from the second deck of the Hawaii YC.
“We welcome you to Hawaii, and ask only that you do Drink well, Sing well, Eat well, Sleep well…and Drink well some more!”
Boats then proceed to their assigned slips, get boarded and inspected for rules compliance, and then are released to the awaiting leis and hugs of family, friends and well-wishers. Regardless of the time of day or night, every crew is given an Aloha Party of food and drink, some more traditionally Hawaiian than others, with the unshaven and weary crews growing their smiles with each re-told story and re-acquaintance with terra firma.
This is a unique feature of Transpac among the world’s ocean races: nowhere else will you find this intimate and embracing level of hospitality and respect. Finishers of the Volvo Ocean Race and Vendee Globe will experience their re-entry into life ashore under the glare of TV lights, crowds and microphones, whereas at Transpac it will be under the flickering flames of a tiki torch and the inner glow from a Mai Tai.
The lore of this hospitality reaches far and wide, as evidenced by not only entries who come every two years from around the Pacific Basin, but also those who come from the other side of the world. This year two entries from Europe were here to have the Aloha experience.
One was Michael St Aldwyn’s J&J 50 Zephyr from the Royal Yacht Squadron, with many of the team hailing from London and Lymington. Despite the reception another English crew received in Hawaii in 1778 when Captain Cook met his demise on the island of Hawai’i, David Sharples was effusive in praise of the race, the help given by TPYC, and the reception received at their finish at 7:11 PM last night.
“We have sailed in many races, and there is nothing like the warm reception we had here,” said Sharples. “This was a great race, and from here we are off next to Australia for the Sydney-Hobart.” This is a typical path for many yachts from overseas as they pursue the items on their bucket lists…another for St Aldwyn is black marlin fishing, which Hawaii offers on the Kona Coast.
Another entry from another seafaring nation in Europe was Karl Otto Book’s Wasa 44 Cubanaren from Norway, the first to finish in Division 7 at 3:24 AM this morning. Book is an active racer, competing in a variety of regattas and a variety of boats throughout Europe. His modest-sized team of four started their journey a year ago at the ORC World Championship in Copenhagen, where racing on a Landmark 43 they placed 6th in a competitive class of 59 boats in Class B.
“We really enjoyed this race, and had no problems except for one broken afterguy,” said Book. “We sailed the boat well I think, but we don’t know if we will continue to have our lead when Azure comes in.” At their current rate of speed Rod Pimentel’s Cal 40 is only 2.5 hours behind Cubaneren in corrected time, and they will be asking for time in redress for having diverted mid-race race to assist the Division 4 Santa Cruz 52 Medusa with fuel. If given more then this margin, Azure will likely take the prize in this class as the last finishers come in today, tonight and tomorrow.
Book says they were considering going south and west to Australia, but have changed their plans to stay in this hemisphere for a while. “We will cruise around the islands for a week, then go back to California, down to Panama, the Caribbean, Cuba, then the East Coast, possibly the Bermuda Race next year.”
Another story from today was the morning finishes of Scott Grealish’s Farr 400 Blue Flash, hampered by an ailing steering system since the second day of the race, and thus on training wheels of having to use smaller sails while nursing their steering system. Grealish said they may have tried to push harder, but with only a crew of five this was difficult, and three of the five were teenagers: son Sean, Kyle Collins, and John Ped were all 18 and 19 years old, with Kyle celebrating his 18th birthday today at their Aloha party.
Another teenager finishing today was 16 year old Will Vanderwort on board Ross Pearlman’s Jeanneau 50 Between the Sheets. “I’m really interested in keelboat and match race sailing, but my dad started a tradition of bringing [us kids] on the Transpac, and this was my turn. I think it was great, I really enjoyed it.”
Transpacific YC’s handling of this race is full-service: not only are there dozens of volunteers to handle all aspects of this complex race, but a prerequisite for membership in this club is in having done this race at least once, so everyone has a passion to replicate its special and unique features every two years. Planning for the next race begins immediately after the last, with a new Commodore installed and dates set within weeks after the Awards…this year the torch will be passed from Bo Wheeler to Tom Hogan.
There are already ideas floating around about expanding the reach and appeal of this special race to include more multihull classes, re-examine the Barn Door Trophy criteria, and other notions. Start dates for 2019 will be examined to consider moon phases, consolidation of the fleet into being in the same weather, weekend start days to encourage more spectating, etc.
“It’s a balance between tradition and innovation,” said Dan Nowlan, TPYC Commodore for the 2015 race. “This is a unique race, and we want to preserve its character, but also invite entries to come from all over the world.”
For more information – position reports, photos, videos and stories new and old, visit the event website at https://2017.transpacyc.com.
Stay tuned also to the Transpac Facebook page for photos, videos and even stories coming in from the teams while at sea: www.facebook.com/TranspacRace/.
Rock-star sailors, such as Dennis Conner and Stan Honey, could probably have bought most any boat they wanted over the years. And at one time or another, they both owned a vintage Bill Lapworth-designed Cal 40. Launched in 1963 by California-based Jensen Marine, this intrepid design is 50-plus years old. And you’ll still find dozens of them on racing circuits and in the slips of posh yacht clubs around the country. So what’s the story behind this enduring and winning design?
The first hull, Persephone, was an instant success, although the design was considered somewhat radical for offshore and long-distance racing. Her flat, dinghy-like bottom, fin keel, and high-aspect spade rudder, along with her lightness (15,000 pounds which was light in 1963), surprisingly earned her lots of criticism at the time. While the Cal 40 was known as a “downwind surfing machine,” owners say that the design actually is a good all-around performer, proven by Cal 40 wins in upwind, long-distance races—not just in downwind runs.
There are several notable things to say about sailing a Cal 40 versus sailing a newer, lighter boat. On first glance, one is struck by her rounded, blunt bow. It’s a far cry from the sharp, fine entries of modern sleds, and is closer in appearance to a heavily built cruiser. Under sail, she proves just the opposite and is surprisingly nimble. Going upwind in moderate 10- to 15-knot breezes, she accelerates nicely, and can easily hit seven knots in speed. Downwind, the Cal 40 surfs well on following seas, but she does tend to load up at the bottom of the wave when the ride is over.
Light air patch plaguing the middle and back of the fleet are sealing off the remaining corrected time titles
July 15, 2017 – HONOLULU, HI – In a race that has featured more elapsed time records set than any in recent memory, its ironic that in the 2017 Transpac the bulk of the fleet has still to finish due to some light-air conditions in the middle of the course. At Noon local time today, only 22 of the 55 boats entered in this year’s race have finished, although several are due into the finish in the next several hours.
This is in contrast to the last two cycles of this biennial 2225-mile ocean race where the early starters had more favorable conditions and it was the later faster boats that struggled in light air.
As such, the faster-rated boats in each Division are faring well in corrected time by being positioned ahead of a large area of lighter winds that has been affecting the last half of the fleet. Today Larry Andrews’s Summit 40 Locomotive finished in the morning to be the first to cross the line in his Division 5, and his lead in corrected time is virtually unbeatable based on the current positions and speeds of his rivals on the course: he owes time to only one boat in his class (John Sandrolini’s Beneteau 47.7 La Sirena), but they are 171 mi away and cannot get to the finish line fast enough to overcome the time allowance.
Yet Larry was not really focused on this in the morning at his Aloha Party at Hawaii YC, where he and his crew were enjoying the hospitality of his hosts and grateful to be on terra firma once again.
“I lived here in Hawaii for a while many years ago, and saw boats coming in from the Transpac and vowed I would do this myself someday,” he said. “Its many years later, but I’m really happy to be here now and fulfill that dream. In my business life I put good people in charge and let them run things the way they know how, and I have been lucky to do the same with this project – we have a great team.”
Consulting with Greg Stewart of Nelson/Marek Yacht Design and Brad Fitzgerald in San Diego, Andrews said his Mills-designed Summit 40 had some optimization work done to make it more competitive in ocean racing, even though its not a “Transpac boat” per se: 600 kg was removed in having a smaller bulb fitted, which reduced righting moment but lightened the boat considerably. The spinnaker pole was lengthened by nearly a meter to accommodate larger sails, but he sailed the race with seven and added a watermaker to make life aboard a little easier.
“I thought I might go with a different style boat that would be lower freeboard and lighter, said Andrews, “but [being tall] I wanted to have enough headroom to be comfortable down below, and this boat was the right fit of style, speed and size.”
Like Chris Hemans on Varuna, Andrews also has a 14-year old daughter interested in offshore sailing, so size and style criteria was adjusted for this interest as well.
Another corrected time winner coming in today was the first to finish entry in Division 3, John Shulze’s Santa Cruz 50 Horizon. With ratings between the boats in this “Fabulous Fifties” class being close, the results come into being close to the finish order, and the next finisher in this class is nearly 100 miles astern, Bill Halvestine’s SC 50 Deception.
In their morning blog the Deception team was determined not to give up:
If you’re watching the tracker, we’re a slow sperm wiggling it’s way to that wonderful tropical egg in the Pacific. Strong swimmer, not so sure. It looks like Horizon is fighting hard to inseminate themselves into the Ala Wai and claim the prize. The rest of us are out here fighting a slow death not knowing the battle has already been won.
But the race isn’t over until we cross the finish line. Even if we have to do it upside down or swim the documentation number across the line of the Diamond Head buoy.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not even close to an email admitting defeat. We have the boat we really wanted to get and there are still 36 hours left in this race and the race is still tight. If we can make up a small handful of hours on our competitors we can still move up far into the standings. We haven’t given up one bit. We’re actively trimming and drivers swap out every half an hour to 45 minutes to keep focus in this lighter air and relentless sun.
And finally, as the recent arrivals have been refreshed and the reality of accomplishment seeps in after a good shower and some sleep, Chris Hemans from Varuna has dug out of the archives a claim to a trophy awarded to the fastest boat to finish the race under 50 feet. Hemans reckons not only does his Rogers 46 qualify to win this, but it also may have set a record for boats in this category.
Fellow Transpac YC Board member Bill Lee says not so fast, the intent of this trophy may have been to recognize boats of this size, but of the cruiser/racer design style, and in fact it was out of this discussion over 10 years ago that TPYC introduced a new box rule to encourage the development of a new class of fast seaworthy offshore race boats: the TP 52.
Overnight more boats are arriving to fill up Transpac Row at the Ala Wai Marina, and more arriving tomorrow, with the tail-enders mostly having moved into favorable the wind bands along the rhumb line, and expected to be finishing by Monday.
Veteran Transpac sailor Seahorse Magazine technical editor and offshore racing analyst Dobbs Davis is joined by Lee and noted international offshore project manager Ryan Breymaier on today’s race analysis show viewable on the Transpac website. Today’s show can be found at: https://youtu.be/ix5jOoud-l0.
For this and more information – position reports, photos, videos and stories new and old, visit the event website at https://2017.transpacyc.com.
Stay tuned also to the Transpac Facebook page for photos, videos and even stories coming in from the teams while at sea: www.facebook.com/TranspacRace/.
It was 40 years ago Merlin changed the course of Transpac – and ocean racing – forever. Now she’s back, faster and more fun than ever
Bill Lee and Jack Halterman were also on the 1977 Transpac-winning crew – photoLauren Easley
“Lu and I are the eighth owners of this boat for the second time,” said Lee, who navigated this race to be second (currently) in corrected time behind another legendary finisher today, Roy Pat Disney’s Andrews 68 Pyewacket. Disney’s newer boat rates slower than Merlin, so being only 2 hours behind but allowed several more hours gave her the corrected time edge. Nonetheless, Lee said they had a fantastic race on Merlin.
|Merlin’s had many changes, but is faster and more fun than ever – photo Charity Palmatier/Ultimate Sailing|
It was this boat that in 1977 turned offshore yacht design in an entirely new direction when Lee’s design concept was to keep the boat long, narrow, and intentionally light weight to sail efficiently in the offwind races of the US West Coast, yet to also be at the prevailing IOR Rating of 70.0 feet, which was the defined Maxi rating limit of those days. Other conventional IOR Maxis were often referred to as “lead mines” because of the large keels they needed to keep their stability for their massive sails and 80-foot lengths. The conventional Maxi’s of this era were designed to perform well relative to their rating in all conditions, whereas Merlin excelled in one direction alone: downwind.
|Pyewacket is one of the more successful late-generation ULDB Sleds, and is leading her class this year. She is shown finishing here today at the Diamond Head buoy – photo Lauren Easley|
Asked about his vision of the future of this race, Lee said “I think it will continue to do what it does now: it attracts the really fast boats with all-pro crews who will continue to hunt for records on big 49-ers, and the amateur teams who are sailing boats they can handle comfortably. There’s a lot for both in this race.”
|Gray Hemans, promoted in social media interview with Chris Love productions|
Meanwhile, there are other stories on the docks at the Ala Wai marina on Transpac row, including one that looks forward to that promising future that Lee mentions. At 14 years old, Gray Hemans may not be the youngest crew to race Transpac, but she might be the youngest who has gone the fastest. Her dad Chris Hemans’sRogers 46 Varuna looks serious with its all-black carbon fiber attire in the mast, hull and deck, and it has few creature comforts for its crew of eight, including Grey, which allowed them to stay light and have their best-ever elapsed time of 8:11:26:49, good enough to have the corrected time lead in Division 3. Even though the 8th-grader has been actively racing smaller boats like Sabots and 29-ers in and around Newport Beach, her first love is sailing offshore.
|Kinetic’s spinnaker illuminated with morning light – photo courtesy of Gaylean Sutcliffe/Kinetic V|
And out on the race course the boats are finding the pleasures and pains of being in warmer climes with variable winds. Their race trackers are showing a lot of course changes and variable boat speeds, indicating some boats being more aggressive at working through the squalls and shifts.
Kinetic V is in a match race with Rapid Transit for the next 200 miles – photo courtesy of
Gaylean Sutcliffe/Kinetic V
The Canadians on David Sutcliffe’s TP 52 Kinetic V remain in good spirits based on their photos, perhaps because as shown on the tracker they have been close running with another Division 1 rival boat only a few miles away, Jim Partridge’sAntrim 49 Rapid Transit.
Medicine Man giving a wave at their dawn finish – photo Betsy Crowfoot/Ultimate Sailing
The next three boats calling in at 100 miles out are Tim Fuller’sJ/125 Resolute, Joel Ronning’s SC 70 Catapult, and John Sangmeister’s turbo SC 70 OEX, due in after dark tonight. And in the pre-dawn behind them should be Larry Andrews’s Summit 40 Locomotion, James McDowell’s SC 70 Grand Illusion, and Edward Marez’s SC 70 Buona Sera.
Howard Enloe isn’t your average Texan. He didn’t learn to sail on the traditional monohull path and, in fact, doesn’t sail monohulls—period.
FROM SAILING WORLD
Since its introduction in the late 1980s, the ORMA 60 trimaran has seduced the best sailors in the world, especially the solo-sailing cowboys from France. Capable of sustained speeds few powerboats can match, it’s not the sort of boat one would expect your average 78-year-old Texan to campaign, but then again, owner Howard Enloe isn’t your average Texan.
Enloe, who first saw the sea when he was 18, didn’t learn to sail on the traditional monohull path and, in fact, doesn’t sail monohulls—period. Early in his sailing career he was formally trained on a Corsair trimaran by a handful of multihull experts, including Jay Glaser, Pete Melvin, and Gino Morrelli. Now he’s got the ORMA 60 Mighty Merloe, undeniably one of, if not the fastest racing sailboats registered in America.
“Enloe is a trailblazer,” says Mighty Merloe project manager and crewmember Nat Iyengar. “He has put himself out there to experience something significant, which in Enloe’s case, is extreme speed.”
An engineer by training, and the owner/operator of an ambulance service in El Paso, Tex., Enloe has been nurturing the development of big multihulls for decades.