A loud and resounding ‘Aahh – looohh – haaahh!’ is how the final awards ceremony began for the 48th Transpac in celebration of not only the achievements of the winners in this 2225-mile ocean race, but the dozens of beautiful perpetual trophies that symbolize the deep heritage and traditions in the 111-year history of this classic ocean race, organized biennially by the Transpacific YC.
The evening’s opening act of Hula dancing celebrated the strong influence and richness of Hawaiian culture integral to this race, which was born of an idea by Hawaii’s King Kalakaua in the late 19th century to enhance his nation’s ties to the mainland.
The program then proceeded with help from emcee Chuck Hawley to bring to the stage the skippers, crews and navigators to receive 31 divisional awards in ORR, HPR and multihull handicap scoring, along with four specialty size awards, 11 navigator awards, fourth overall elapsed time awards, three overall corrected time awards, and 15 specialty awards to teams and individuals who made outstanding contributions and accomplishments to the race. In all, an impressive total of 68 awards and trophies were recognized in the ceremony.
The Don Vaughn Memorial Trophy, for example, is awarded to the most outstanding crewmember in the Barn Door Trophy winning crew. This year that award was given to Keith Kilpatrick, the boat captain on Manouch Moshayedi’s Rio 100, for his extraordinary efforts in New Zealand last year in the extensive modifications to the boat, where it was lengthened and changed from a canting to a fixed keel. Kilpatrick, a veteran of the Volvo Ocean Race, also spent many months this year preparing Rio 100 for their quest for the Barn Door Trophy in this race.
Another specialty award was the Tail End Charlie trophy, awarded to Yasuto Fuda’s tiny 30-foot sport boat entry Fortissimo II, who crossed the finish line on Thursday afternoon after 17 days 3 hours 22 min and 28 sec on this race. The applause for this intrepid crew of four from Japan was among the most thunderous of the evening, in a display of admiration for their perseverance and tenacity to complete such a long ocean passage in such a small boat.
Another wildly popular award for the evening was for the local-based overall corrected time winner, James McDowell’s Santa Cruz 70 Grand Illusion, who has now won the King Kalakaua Trophy three times, a feat achieved by only one other entry in the long history of Transpac. Congratulations go to the crew of Grand Illusion and its navigator, Patrick O’Brien, who won the Chuck Ullman Trophy for providing guidance to the overall winning team.
On a more sobering note but significant nonetheless for all offshore sailors, Boyan Slat from The Ocean Cleanup took the stage to thank and congratulate all those who participated in the Transpac and provide reports of sightings of debris. He also thanked the 20 boats from the race who will be participating in the Mega Expedition over the next few weeks in what is being described as the largest scientific experiment in history: simultaneous logging of trash and debris sightings on return trips to the West Coast. Slat explained how invaluable this data will be to help rid the Pacific of 1000’s of tons of trash over the next decade.
The evening concluded with an inspiring and entertaining video celebrating the race and its participants by Jeremy Leonard, social media guru for Transpac.
‘This was an outstanding year for Transpac,’ said TPYC Commodore Dan Nowlan. ‘The race had its challenges with the weather and then the waves, but everyone – competitors and organizers alike – were great, we had very few problems for such a complex operation. Between the mainland and Honolulu committees we had over 500 volunteers involved, and all of them helped make this race a fantastic experience and success.’
by Dobbs Davis