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 – 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 – With a finish time of 19:34:25 HST today, Manouch Moshayedi’s Bakewell-White 100 RIO100 has become the fastest monohull without powered performance systems to finish the 50th edition of the biennial 2225-mile LA-Honolulu Transpacific Yacht Race. In so doing she has won the Merlin Trophy, which this year was re-defined from its original criteria of being awarded to the fastest monohull of any configuration in the race.
RIO100 is the first boat in the history of Transpac to have won both the Merlin and Barn Door Trophies. Asked how he felt about this, Manouch said “It feels fantastic, I’m going to go down the list of trophies, one by one!”
Two years ago in their Barn Door Trophy win, RIO100 was not at full speed for the latter portion of the race having hit debris that broke one of their two rudders. Quick work by the crew capped the hole in the hull at the rudder bearing and the team sailed on for their elapsed time win. This time the only debris hit was a long hawse line from a fishing boat that they believe slowed them “for about one and a half – two hours” while they removed it from the keel. But all in all Manouch felt this was a “cleaner” race, and their elapsed time of 6 days 9 hours 8 minutes 26 seconds is the fastest yet for a non-canting Monohull.
Earlier at 12:07:48 HST Jeff Mearing and Peter Aschenbrenner’s Irens 63 trimaran Paradox also finished at Diamond Head, the last of the Multihull Class 0 boats to finish with the three MOD 70’s crossing the line last night.
The next in the approaching queue of boats coming from the east is another Monohull Division 1 entry, Phil Turner and Duncan Hines’s Reichel/Pugh 65 Alive from Australia, the reigning overall champion of the last Sydney-Hobart Race. Their projected time to finish is about 0200 HST on Saturday morning, July 20th, marking the start of a succession of finishers coming to Diamond Head from Division 6 who started last Wednesday, July 10th.
Further out on the course the reports describe a mix of joy and sorrow, with most of the 82 boats projected to finish in this fleet describing beautiful 15-20 knot downwind sailing conditions during the day followed by some tough rainy and windy squalls at night. Spinnakers are getting a workout, with some breaking under the strain of an unintended broach or knockdown, prompting on-board repairs so they can be hoisted and used again.
Navigator Sean Motta has been providing numerous reports throughout the race from Roger Gatewood’s J/145 Katara, with the latest describing their travails with broken spinnakers and their impact on performance:
After a fairly rocky start this morning we’re back to a full head of steam. Repair efforts were made to the A4, and it now lays in reserve if the need were to arise. We down shifted to our much smaller reaching kite, the A3, for several hours. We were making acceptable way, but we weren’t able to get the angles or speed we wanted. Cautious of blowing out our only other runner kite, our lite air A2, we held off. After a few hours the breeze subsided somewhat and the call was made to hoist the A2. That helped significantly with the angle and speed and we’re back up to a full head of steam.
We are tentatively planning to downshift back to the A3 overnight in order to protect the A2 for use in the final approach or in lighter air if it appears again tomorrow.
We’ve got a full boat worth of projects going on with cleaning, splicing, minor tweaks or repairs, and just generally cleaning up a week of hard use. Most everyone is on a second or third pair of clothes and we had a dry enough day to get the boat opened up and aired out a bit.
Overall a pleasant day as we run towards the right edge where we will gybe over to port tack for our final (though over 500nm) approach in to Molokai for the final push in to Hawaii. Hard to tell for sure at this point but sometime very very late overnight on Sunday in to Monday morning Hawaiian time is looking somewhat most likely at this point.
Jerzy Poprawski also reported from his 43-foot catamaran “Kastor Pollux at 0810 lost [our] second and last spinnaker, sailing [now] wing-on-wing. We are working to fix one.” They are the faster of the two remaining multihulls on the course in Division OA, the other being Lior Elazary’s Lagoon 400S2 Celestra, although sailing without a spinnaker for their remaining 650 miles may change that order.
Just south of Celestra on Robert DeLong’s TP 52 Conviction, Larry Robertson reported the following personnel issue that has been plaguing them all week:
On Monday, we had a crew member injured due to a fall across the cockpit, and stopping at the edge with his ribs. We believe there is at least one broken rib. We have been in touch with family members and others in the medical community. There is little treatment that can be administered other than standard pain medications and keeping immobilized as much as possible. The injury is not life threatening, but the discomfort is pronounced. A knockdown is not fun for anyone, but very painful for someone with broken ribs. As a result, our foot has been off the ‘gas pedal’.
Despite the above, our spirits are high as we sail to Hawaii.
Except for the damage suffered by Giovanni Soldini’s MOD 70 Maserati that finished in the wee hours of yesterday morning, the reports of serious debris have been relatively light compared to recent post-2011 Tsunami years on this course. However, Larry on Conviction reminds us there are man-made objects out there to avoid:
We passed a buoy a couple of days [out] about 800 miles offshore. I am pretty sure it was not anchored. We were going 13 or so and it passed one boat length (50 feet) to windward and we did not see it until we were within a couple of boat lengths. We are glad that we did not ring that bell.
A race from Los Angeles would not be complete without screenplays, so this tale from Robert Zellmar’s Santa Cruz 50 Flyingfiche II is worthy of mention:
We’ve made our jibe and are heading directly toward Hawaii. Given that the distance yet to cover – about 600 nm – is longer than most boat trips, it seems premature to call this the home stretch. Everything is relative, I guess.
Nighttime conditions continue to be challenging. It was blowing a steady 25 when we executed our jibe. It was also 2 a.m. and the seas were rolling. Come to think of it, they weren’t good conditions to accomplish anything, other than coming back to the cockpit soaked. I nailed that!
It has really warmed up. The off-shift crew is doing their best to stay cool, and welcoming suggestions.
Recent observations have inspired me to write a screenplay:
SCENE: Cockpit of a boat sailing in the Transpac race. GRINDER sits in front of a winch, handle at the ready. TRIMMER sits across the cockpit in a beanbag chair, holding the spinnaker sheet that is wound around the winch.
As action begins, the leading edge of the spinnaker curls over.
TRIMMER: Grind, grind, grind!
GRINDER does nothing. Before the TRIMMER speaks again, the curls flips back.
We’re now performing this play dozens of times a day around the clock with a rotating cast. No two shows are quite the same!
HONOLULU, HAWAII – After Jason Carroll’s Argo crossed the finish line at Diamond Head last night 20:52:32 local time, only 29 minutes later Peter Cunningham’s PowerPlay crossed the line, followed 6.5 hours later by Giovanni Soldini’s Maserati, ending the rivalry between all three MOD 70 trimarans in the 50th edition of the Transpacific Yacht Race. For over four days these teams battled with each other, one (Maserati) limping for a while due to impact damage after the first day of the race, but never giving up.
“Crossing the finish line was a great moment for us,” Carroll told local TV news teams. “It was 4 1/2 days of anticipation to find out if we were going to beat out the competition and it came down to a pretty close race in the end, so this was a great celebration.”
Asked about conditions leaving the coast, Carroll said “The conditions were very different there then they are here in Hawaii where it blows 26 knots every day; it was very light and variable and our navigator [Anderson Reggio] did a great job getting us out of [that hole] which gave us a leg up on everybody.”
This is Carroll’s first Transpac, to which he said “Every offshore yacht racers dream is to sail [this race], and this is my first time ever in Hawaii. So it’s great to come and do this. The full moon was with us pretty much every night guiding us safely here.”
When asked what it was like being 4 days with his team, Carroll said “Ya know I spend a lot of time with these guys, we get to see each other everyday!”
(An Erratum from last night’s release: an additional member of the Argo team omitted from mention was Westy Barlow – sorry Westy!)
Argo team member Brian Thompson is a highly-experienced veteran of offshore multihull projects, and even he was impressed with this race.
“It is amazing to be back here. I think this is my sixth time in Honolulu racing from California. So I’ve got the course record with Phaedo and after the fourth attempt, being the first multihull to finish, the first boat to finish this race here on Argo tonight – which is incredible. It turned out the racing was really close. The start was incredible. There was an eddy off the coast of California which made it super light. Much lighter than normal and at night it shut down and we were the boat that got out the best. And just got out before the wind shut down, so we got out into the wind and extended through the night to have about an 80-mile lead. So four and half days is not a bad time at all to 2,200 miles. We are all chuffed to be here.”
The remainder of the fleet is enjoying beautiful tradewinds sailing, with many reports of fantastic sunsets and sunrises, moon rainbows, challenging squalls, and the like. This account from Chip Merlin’s team on his custom Lee-designed 68 Merlin:
Day 5 turned into an intense night after a few spinnakers went up and down and dodging little black clouds and intermittent showers. Today Day 6 the sun is out, nice trade winds are blowing, the crew is in good spirits and moments of offshore humor are more frequent. Last night we were treated to a special phenomena – when under the full moon a moonbow appeared which is a white halo like ring similar to a rainbow but without the colors.
And from John Miller’s Beneteau 46 Tropic Thunder on their 8th day, a similar account:
So, as sailing goes it is wash, rinse, repeat. The other watch seems to get all the sail change fun. My watch gets all the cool sights.
Overnight we had a brief light rain that felt wonderful. The moon was once again bright and beautiful. We were treated to a full moonbow; rainbow made from moonlight. I have no idea what the actual term for it is and Google is not exactly available out here so you are stuck with moonbow.
We are starting to see schools of flying fish which is really cool and increasing amounts of trash which is not so cool. There was a small squid that tried to make itself into calamari on the jacklines but he wasn’t quite successful, poor little thing.
We are having a good time out here. Life is good. Except there were some hurting puppies this morning from the 1/2 way celebration. When will they learn. Now starting to ration ibuprophen.
Another story from the race course on board Scott Deardorff and Bill Guilfoyle’s SC 52 Prevail is less jolly. A crewman had got his finger caught in a winch and sustained a compound fracture to his arm. The team received medical advice via sat phone from Hoag, the Transpac official medical assistance provider, wherein antibiotics were prescribed, but of a type not in the Prevail medical kit.
With help from Transpac Race HQ, an alert notice went to the fleet to ask who had the specific type of drugs needed. Luckily only 5 miles away was Vela, another SC 52 owned by Steve Davis, Tim Dornberg and Clark Davis, who made the rendezvous with Prevail. The patient is reported to be in stable condition.
Another problem on the course has arose on The Eddy Family’s Cal 40 Callisto, where their YB tracker is now officially dead. The device had been behaving erratically throughout the race, so now Race HQ has directed navigator Kerry Deaver to report positions every 4 hours.
One tracker that seems to be working well is that on Jason Andrews’s J/125 Hamachi, because based on their recent rates of progress they are positioned at the top of the leaderboard in corrected time. It’s still a little early to make predictions, but they are now very much in contention to win the overall King Kalakaua Trophy, a historic perpetual award named after the royal Hawaiian founder of this race, first sailed in 1906.
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.
HONOLULU, HAWAII – After a slow initial start on Saturday, Jason Carroll and his team of Chad Corning, Thierry Fouchier, Anderson Reggio, Alister Richardson and Brian Thompson were able to push their MOD 70 trimaran Argo into the lead among two other rival MOD 70’s in this year’s 50th edition of the LA-Honolulu Transpac.
After several hours into the race and having to fight to get out of a wind hole on the first night, the team found the strong offshore breeze first to take a lead never seriously challenged during the entire race, playing a brilliant tactical game to also deftly stay ahead of their competition on the final approach to the finish.
Which was needed: Peter Cunningham’s team on PowerPlay, a sistership MOD 70, finished just 29 minutes astern after 2225 miles of racing.
Argo’s official finish time was 20:50:32 HST on Wednesday, July 17th, for an elapsed time of 4 days 11 hours 20 min 32 sec …a remarkable time considering their first day’s slow start and only 5 hours behind the record pace set in 2017 by the ORMA 60 Mighty Merloe of 4 days 6 hours 32 minutes 30 sec.
This translates to an average speed down the course of 20.7 knots.
At about 2 AM PDT, a small crowd gathered at the docks of Windward Yacht Center to await the arrival of a 68-foot sailboat with 19 people aboard. This was 10 more than the 9 they left with from Long Beach back on Saturday at the third start of the 2225-mile LA-Honolulu Transpac race. Roy Disney’s Andrews 68 Pyewacket left Long Beach hungry for victory in their attempt to earn corrected time honors but circumstances intervened on Sunday night.
“I was just waking up when the radio had messages that you could hear sounded urgent, we heard it was OEX, so Benny [Mitchell] and I looked at each other and leaned in to figure out what’s going on,” said Disney. “The next part was figuring out where we were relative to them. We assumed others were closer until our navigator said they were right in front of us. It was easy to turn a little left and we were right on top of them relatively quickly. We were all powered up going 14-15 knots, so slowing down was not that easy.”
Disney went on to say “Then we came across the eerie sight of a mainsail up on a boat that was going under the waves…its a pretty tragic thing to see, and these two lifeboats tied together with flashing lights on them.”
The sight was John Sangmeister’s Santa Cruz 70 OEX foundering from water rushing into the boat through a hole in the stern where the rudder post used to be. Despite valiant attempts by his team to stop the flow and keep up with the ingress with pumps and buckets, the boat was filling fast with water. Liferafts were deployed.
“When I saw Pyewacket’s running lights nearby and we were 4-5 feet of water inside the boat and I was sitting on deck I had waist-deep water in the cockpit, I said ‘Alright boats, its time to go.’ We have a watertight bulkhead on the bow and I feared the boat might go down by the stern and the mast would land on top of the raft.
“I felt really confident that Roy and his remarkable crew would look after us once we got into the boats.”
“Which we did, we had ribs and wine!” said Disney. “And dinner and fellowship, all 19 of us,” retorted Sangmeister. “They were more than gracious hosts.”
“I am fortunate to have a group of guys that are really good at what they do, I really appreciate that, and John also has a group of guys that are really good at what they do too,” said Disney. “There was no panic, no distress, other than just guys getting into a lifeboat in the dark in the middle of the night in the middle of the Pacific! But everyone handled it perfectly. This is a tribute to sailors in general and our groups that it worked out the way it did.”
According to TPYC Staff Commodore Bo Wheeler, speaking at a news interview in Waikiki, this has been the only boat sunk in the history of the Transpac, a race that dates back to 1906. And while a record number of boats have returned this race, 7 with rudder issues and one with a broken mast, this is also the largest turnout of entries, with 90 boats who crossed the start line in three waves starting last Wednesday. Of the other boats that have retired, Macando is within site of land, and only Tim Jones’s Olson 40 Live Wire still has a difficult journey ahead, 200 miles out with a jury rig proceeding at about 4 knots.
For the 82 boats still racing, the conditions are perfect downwind tradewinds sailing, with reports like “Absolutely a beautiful day of sailing yesterday. Looking forward to more of the same today,” coming from the Eddy Family’s Cal 40 Calisto. Felix Basadre on board Michael and Samantha Gebbs’sPacer 42R Zimmer declared “Best hour of sailing ever just after sunset last night. Beautiful sunset and sunrise. Seeing Orion’s Belt was amazing, we could reach out and touch it.”
The race leader in elapsed time – Jason Carroll’s MOD 70 trimaran Argo – has less than halfway to go to the finish, and has been lifted on starboard tack to cross the rhumbline to Hawaii. They shared a comical glimpse of life aboard this high-speed leader:
The crew of the mighty Argo got over their onboard international social challenges yesterday by finding common ground in their hatred for Mountain House Breakfast Skillet freeze dried food. Honestly, freeze dried eggs just shouldn’t be a thing. Just like the sport of cricket.
Argo has a team of seven from the USA, France and England and at 1100 PDT they were on a heading of 290° at 26 knots of speed, with 881 miles to go to the finish line at Diamond Head.
Giovanni Soldini’s MOD 70 Maserati’s damage reported yesterday is not slowing her down too much: she has many miles to catch up but at 1100 had an average speed of 23 knots and covered 513 miles in the past 24 hours with 1017 miles to go. At these speeds that’s only about 4 hours astern of Argo, so the expected fight between these two and Peter Cuningham’s MOD 70 Powerplay may well be heating up in the next two days.
And the fastest monohulls – Comanche and Rio100 – are working through the middle of the second wave fleet at speeds of 19 and 18 knots, respectively. John Miller’s Beneteau 46 Tropic Thunder sent a note and screen graphic from their routing software to show Comanche 8.8 miles away “in their neighborhood” proceeding at a relatively good clip: 20.8 knots compared to their 6.8 knots.
Current leaders in corrected time in each division are as follows: Div 0: Argo, Div 0A: Kastor Pollux, Div 1: Rio100, Div 2: TaxiDancer, Div 3: Bretwalda 3, Div 4: Prevail, Div 6: Kialoa II, Div 6: Ohana, Div 7: Chubasco, Div 8: Sweet Okole, Div 9: Nadelos, Div 10: Viva.
Reports like these, YB tracker tools, race standings and more are available on the race website, and progress for boats on the course can be followed on the 4-hour delay YB tracking found from this link https://yb.tl/transpac2019# on the race website. Daily position analysis videos from offshore racing commentator Dobbs Davis will also be posted on the site most days during the race.