LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – The Transpacific Yacht Club is pleased to announce the next 2021 edition of the LA to Honolulu Transpac is now open for entry. This will be the 51st edition of this 2225-mile biennial ocean racing classic first raced in 1906, with the first of three starts scheduled for Tuesday, July 13, 2021 and the final awards ceremony to be held in Honolulu on Friday, July 30th, 2021.
“Amidst all the recent bad news about races being cancelled or postponed this season, we hope this early opening for entries will be good news for all ocean sailors interested in Transpac next year,” said Jim Eddy, Commodore of the Transpacific YC. “In fact, we already have our first entry within minutes of opening the site!”
This first entry is John Sangmeister from Long Beach, and this is not a coincidence. Race fans from last year’s Transpac 50 will remember that Sangmeister and his team suffered a broken rudder on his modified Santa Cruz 70 OEX, then sank 200 miles offshore in their second night of this race, prompting a successful rescue from Roy Disney’s Andrews 68 Pyewacket. Both teams returned to the coast safely on board Pyewacket, earning Disney and team last year’s prestigious US Sailing Arthur B Hanson Rescue Medal for their heroic efforts.
“I love this race, the people, the adventure, the Aloha,” said Sangmeister, “I wanted to be the first to sign up to compete and complete what we did not finish last year.”
In the current circumstances he added “To everyone we say Stay healthy, stay safe, be kind to one another. Looking forward to seeing everyone soon under happier circumstances. Aloha and Fight on!”
That Aloha spirit is often associated with Transpac not just due to the destination but also because the race itself is pure bliss for all ocean sailors, who in one race get to enjoy a wide sampling of weather conditions. The gentle westerlies at the start are followed by a few days of cold and wet high-speed headsail reaching in the coastal offshore northerlies, which then warm up and move aft into several more days of idyllic tradewind spinnaker reaching and running towards the iconic finish line at Diamond Head in Honolulu, where all that Aloha hospitality awaits.
Last year’s 50th anniversary race was also wildly popular: after an open for entries started in mid-April 2018 there were already 50 entries by September, and by mid-February 2019 a whopping 100 entries. Eventually 84 monohulls and 6 multihulls crossed the starting line, a record number in the long history of this race. These entries came from not only from the US west coast, but all over the planet.
One was Quentin Stewart’s mixed international crew hailing from Australia, Britain, Spain and the US on his Infinity 46r Maverick, a light fast offshore carbon race boat with an unusual feature: a horizontal appendage that slides to leeward to increase stability and thus harness more power in the sail plan, a device called DSS (Dynamic Stability System). Maverick relished the conditions, trading gybes with Swiss skipper Maximillian Klink’s much larger Botin 65 Caro for miles and miles of boat-for-boat high-speed fun all the way to the finish line: Maverick finished only 32 seconds ahead in elapsed time after almost 8 days of racing.
“I did 20 transatlantic crossings and races by 2000 and then I waited until 2016 to do the 21st, and now 2019 for a first Transpac,” said UK-based helmsman Gordon Kay sailing on Maverick. “I will not be waiting so long again. There is something magical about the rhythm of this ocean race that is lost in the frenzy of a Fastnet.”
“For those that may have missed Transpac 50, now’s the time to start thinking and planning for the next edition in 2021,” said TPYC Race Committee Chairman Tom Trujillo. “And for those that enjoyed last year’s race, come back again for more next year, we would love to have you back.”
More details on the 51st edition of Transpac can be found in the 2021 Notice of Race posted on the Race Information page on event website: www.transpacyc.com.
Quentin Stewart’s Infinity 46r Maverick from the UK at high speed just moments before finishing Transpac 50 at Diamond Head – photo Sharon Green/Ultimate Sailing
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.
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.
HONOLULU, HAWAII – With the conditions on the race course remaining perfect, the first of a large wave of finishers has started to cross the finish line at Diamond Head in the 50th edition of the 2225-mile LA-Honolulu Transpacific Yacht Race. Since Merlin Trophy-winner Rio100 finished last night, four more boats have finished: Phil Turner and Duncan Hines’s R/P 66 Alive from Australia, Bob Pethwick’s Rogers 46 Bretwalda 3, Daniel Gribble’s Tripp 56 Brigadoon, and the local Hawaii-based team on Cecil and Alyson Rossi’s Farr 57 Ho’okolohe. Tom Holthus’s Pac 52 BadPak is fast approaching to be next to finish at sunset.
The crowd at Waikiki YC was so full of friends and family to greet Ho’okolohe, the berthing dock threatened to collapse. Buoyed by their spectacular finish at Diamond Head and finishing in their own home waters, the crew described their trip in glowing terms like “champagne sailing”, “best trip yet”, and “this boat has never gone so fast.”
Brigadoon beat Ho’okolohe to the finish line by an hour and 40 minutes, but trailed in corrected time scoring by about 14 minutes. However, currently Brigadoon is the sole finisher in the Corinthian division, where a trophy will be awarded to the team composed of all-amateur sailors who finishes with the best corrected time.
In corrected time, which is determined by the boat’s Transpac rating multiplied by their elapsed time, the contest is incredibly close. At stake is who wins the overall King Kalakaua Trophy, one of the most prestigious in this race, which rewards the team who has sailed the course most efficiently relative to their rating. During the race the YB tracker system estimated the projected corrected time based on the rate of progress made every hour between scheds and the distance left to the finish.
Using this model, the Division 3 teams were on top most of this race based on their fast start on Friday, July 12th and the fast weather conditions on the course. Bretwalda 3 was an early leader in corrected time, but they rate the fastest among their closest rivals, two J/125’s: Zach Anderson’s and Chris Kramer’s Velvet Hammer and Shawn Dougherty and Jason Andrews’s Hamachi. So when the wind went aft, these two converged and appeared to even pass Bretwalda in corrected time.
With Bretwalda’s finish time now known, and her corrected time established, its now possible to calculate the elapsed time window needed by the two J-boats to defeat Bretwalda and determine who will win the overall trophy: if Hamachi finishes before dawn at 05:40:50 Hawaiian time she defeats Bretwalda. But if Velvet Hammer finishes within 2 hours 45 minutes of Hamachi, she wins the overall award.
Asked to comment about this on arriving at Waikiki, Pethwick said “We’ve been watching this, and its exciting to even think about the possibility. We’ll see how it pans out, they were 120 miles back, but its also windy out there. We had such a great race, it was so different than our last race in 2015, we had a fantastic time.”
Bretwalda watch captain and sailmaker Wally Cross commented on the stories of broken sails on numerous other boats in the race: “We knew this race and the loads it puts on the sails, so we developed stronger A2’s, and they held well. But the halyards didn’t!” The team broke two spinnaker halyards and had to finally rig an external halyard to fly the masthead sails. “Its a good thing we finished when we did.”
A new wave of finishers is expected in the next 24 hours, with more and more appearing on the live 200-mile radius tracker system that updates every hour instead of the longer-range tracker that updates hourly with a 4-hour delay.
To follow the position tracks of the approaching finishers, visit the YB tracker system at http://yb.tl/transpac2019#.
HONOLULU, HAWAII – After the same slow start that plagued all Saturday starters this year in the 50th edition of the LA-Honolulu Transpac, Jim Cooney and Samantha Grant’s VPLP 100 Comanche still managed to sneak out of the light air, get into the offshore breeze, and sail on to be first to finish in Honolulu at 21:14:05 Hawaii time. For being the first monohull to cross the finish line at Diamond Head, the Comanche team will win the coveted First to Finish carved slab of Hawaiian Koa wood known as the Barn Door Trophy. From 2009-2017 this award was given only to yachts with no powered systems, but was re-dedicated this year for monohull yachts of all sizes and types.
“This is a fantastic feeling to be here in Hawaii on this great yacht,” said Cooney on finishing his first Transpac. “Four months ago we committed to this race when the rig came out of the boat in Australia to ship to California, and we’ve been working hard to make this happen ever since.”
Navigator Stan Honey has been on many Barn Door-winning boats, and says the award is appropriate to represent the boat that is not only fast but also uses the latest in technology to achieve performance.
“The winners of the Barn Door Trophy represent the progress of technology in the history of offshore sailing,” said Honey. “Like Dorade, Storm Vogel, Windward Passage and Merlin, Comanche very much deserves to be part of this history.”
While not matching her record time set in 2017 of 5 days 01:55:26, her time of 5 days 11:14:05 this year was still good for an impressive VMG of nearly 17 knots on the course.
Unusual port tack start for the final wave of the fastest boats in the fleet
With the breeze shifted far left in overcast skies due to a strong Catalina Eddy, the final wave of 24 monohulls and 4 multihulls in a record fleet of 90 yachts are now headed off the coast in the 50th edition of Transpacific Yacht Race, a biennial race to Honolulu organized by the Transpacific YC. These are the largest and fastest boats in the fleet, and their starts were an impressive display of big-boat sail handling, seamanship and tactics as they charged the line on port tack with a variety of headsail types suitable to the close reaching angle sailed to clear the West End of Catalina, the only mark of the course in this 2225-mile race.
This worked out fine for most boats, as the line was called
all clear at the starting gun by Principal Race Officer Tom Trujillo, except
John Sangmeister’s modified SC 70 OEX set up a little too far to windward at
the pin end and was boxed out by Robert DeLong’s TP 52 Conviction. OEX bailed
out with a bear-off, gybe and tack to get back on track to start the race.
Soon thereafter Sangmeister took this in stride, making a
Facebook post that said:
“Our start – and I use “Our” like the royal “We” to spread blame from my mistake – was not perfect. However, we are clawing back nicely with good straight-line speed. My wife, Sarah was again our team’s MVP helping us to get ready for the voyage. Thanks for all the love and aloha. Many miles before I sleep…”
Sangmeister and boat captain Ryan Breymaier have done
extensive upgrades and renovations to OEX to make her fast and optimize her
rating for this race. A taller rig, larger mainsail, and other changes have
given this boat more punch on the Transpac course, and the fastest rating in
Division 2, but the team reckons the changes will be worth it.
The promising initial conditions caved in a few hours
later as the breeze finally shifting west, but died out and leaving the fleet
becalmed in the channel before even getting to the West End. This prompting
many to tack to head up the coast on the hunt for the shortest path to reliable
breeze. Observers close by described the scene of windless boats sitting on a
glassy sea as looking “like a graveyard.”
Stan Honey navigating Jim Cooney and Samantha Grant’s Verdier/VPLP 100 Comanche, the current monohull race record holder, this morning expressed concern about these conditions in the forecast. “This eddy is big, I’m worried about it not just at the start but up until midnight tonight.”
This could invite speculation about the effect this
may have on record run attempts this year, but its still too early to tell for
So as the third wave struggles to get off the coast,
the second wave has reached the breeze and some fallen to its strength. Tom
Camp’s appropriately named SC 50 Trouble has reported problems with their
rudder bearings and is returning to port, all safe aboard.
And from the first wave the fleet trajectories are
starting to flatten out from the dives made to the south as boats get lifted on
their tracks to start heading more towards Hawaii. Chris Lemke and Brad
Lawson’s Hobie 33 Dark Star from Calgary reported:
“Seas 2-3’. Overcast. Wind 017@13kt. Baro 1018mb. Blast reaching is behind us. Boat is flat again and we’re starting to clean up and dry out. Our thoughts are with the crews aboard the Hobie 33s Aloha and Mayhem. Very disappointing news and we wish them safe passages home.”
However, there are two more casualties reported to be
returning to port. The first was Mike Sudo’s Beneteau First 47.7 Macondo,
retiring with a rudder failure. Here’s what Sudo said and the impact of their
“Macondo now heels
hard to starboard and our worlds feel a bit upside down. The potential for
catastrophic rudder failure crept from the shadows last night forcing our crew
to make the heavy-hearted decision to turn back, to head home, to abandon 2+
years of daydreams and planning. You never truly learn what you or your crew
are made of in fair winds and seas, you learn about your crew in the dark of
night, when sh%*#t hits the fan and the stakes are high—that’s when the masks
are removed and you know the makings of a man. Words cannot express the
admiration I have for this team and their fortitude. Not for a moment did they
shrink to the multitude of challenges—they rose.”
The second was Tim Jones’s Olson 40 Live Wire, who was
leading Division 6 but has bent or broken the top section of their spar above
the second spreader, forcing them to also take the decision to turn back under
jury rig. On both vessels all are uninjured and safe.
Based on current positions, Division leaders in the first wave are as follows: Don Jesberg’s Cal 40 Viva, Ian Ferguson’s Wasa 55 Nadelos in Division 9, David Gorney’s J/105 No Compromise in Division 8, Michael Yokell’s Oyster 56 Quester in Division 7, Cecil and Alyson Rossi’s Farr 57 Ho’okolohe in Division 6, and Ian Elazary’s Lagoon 400S2 Celestra in Multihull 0A.
In the second wave that started yesterday, current leaders
are as follows: Tom Barker’s Swan 60 Good Call in Division 3, Scott Deardorf
and Bill Guilfoyle’s SC 52 Prevail in Division 4, and Bob Pethick’s Rogers 46
Bretwalda 3 in Division 3.