At just about two weeks from the first start of the 48th Transpac, more than half the fleet will by midnight local time tonight be still at sea making their way to the finish of this biennial 2225-mile race from LA to Honolulu.
Since Harry Zanville’s Santa Cruz 37 Celerity was the first to cross the finish line in the early hours of Friday, boats from the Monday, July 13th start for Divisions 7 and 8, and starters on Saturday, July 18th in Divisions 0, 1, and 2 have crossed the finish line at Diamond Head.
So far in corrected time, Celerity still holds the top of the leaderboard, but there are a few Division 2 and 3 entries that are close based on their current rate of speed. Chief among them is James McDowell’s SC 70 Grand Illusion, who was the overall winner of the King Kalakaua Trophy in 1999 and 2011. But another sled, Chuck Nichols’s Andrews 70 Pyewacket, is also close.
While the overall and some division winners may still be uncertain, the event can declare its Barn Door and Merlin Trophy winners for 2015: Roy Pat Disney’s and Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI had the lowest elapsed time on the course to win the Merlin Trophy, and by being the first monohull without powered assistance to finish the course, Manouch Moshayedi’s Rio 100 will win the Barn Door Trophy.
The Barn Door Trophy is made from a large ornately-carved piece of Hawaiian Koa wood, and is an iconic symbol of excellence for the Transpac: many of the most famous racing yachts in the world of offshore sailing have their names inscribed on the brass plaques around its perimeter. While not breaking a record this year, Rio 100 now joins this elite group.
“We set out to win this trophy, and did, and it’s not too often that you can achieve these goals in ocean racing,” said Moshayedi. “The boat and the team were fantastic, and it’s great to be a part of Transpac history. We look forward to coming back next time and breaking the record.”
In 2009 when the existing course record was smashed by over a day by Neville Crichton’s canting-keeled Alfa Romeo, Transpac YC recognized that this class of designs was unique and needed its own trophy, so the Merlin Trophy was born to honor the boat that did so much to encourage high-speed offshore-capable design in this race and beyond.
Wild Oats XI is a 100-foot custom design famous for its numerous victories in the Sydney-Hobart race in its native Australia, and was competing this year for its first Transpac. The goal was a course record, but the weather was uncooperative this year. Nonetheless, the team felt this was a significant achievement.
“This is a great race, I’m really glad we came to do it,” said co-skipper Mark Richards, who along with Roy Pat Disney led a 16-man crew of mixed Aussies and Americans. Wild Oats will be heading back to Oz shortly to undergo surgery in preparation for the team’s greatest passion, the Sydney-Hobart race held in late December.
There is a disturbing aspect of this race that had many Transpac competitors concerned: trash. Gavin Brady, tactician on Rio 100, was particularly incensed.
“There was so much floating debris out there, its hard to describe or comprehend,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like it. Maybe because the High was pushed north so we sailed this year into the waters where it is normally, but this is a great tragedy to have so much garbage out there.”
Brady said the team did many evasive maneuvers and once even a back-down to stop the boat and shed the keel of a fishing net.
“We’ve got to as racing sailors let everyone know about this,” he said, “because otherwise no one would believe it.”
One other annoyance for those finishing now and through tonight are the waves: a high surf warning is up for the south-facing shorelines of the islands for large swells of 10-15 feet. These waves are providing spectacular surfing conditions, but are dangerous for boats coming into and out of the harbors if their approach is not timed carefully between sets.
A cruising sailboat last night got caught in the surf at the Ala Wai harbor venue and is being driven towards shore on the rocks now as a graphic reminder of the power of these waves.
Race managers at Transpac YC have told competitors with overnight arrivals that they may be turned away and asked to stay out at sea until the harbor approach conditions are safe…the advisory notes that the surf is due to subside to 8-12 feet after 0600 local time.
Monday, July 13: First Transpac Start: Divisions 7 & 8; 22 entrants
Thursday, July 16: Second Transpac Start: Divisions 4, 5 & 6; 18 entrants
Friday, July 18: Third Transpac Start: Multihulls, Divisions 1, 2 & 3; 19 entrants
Friday, July 31: Honolulu Awards Ceremony – The Modern Hotel
Saturday, Aug 1st: Kaneohe YC Party and Plywood Cup Regatta
First organized by the Transpacific Yacht Club in 1906, the Transpacific Yacht Race or Transpac is an offshore sailing race from Point Fermin in Los Angeles to Diamond Head, just east of Honolulu, a distance of 2,225 nm. This is among the world’s great ocean races, and biennially attracts some of the world’s fastest sailing yachts, some of its most talented offshore racing sailors, and a wide variety of offshore sailing adventurers.
Transpacific YC also conducts occasional races to Papeete, Tahiti. Membership is open to all sailors who have completed a TPYC race to either of these destinations in paradise.
by Dobbs Davis, Transpac 2015 Media Manager