Tomorrow at 1:00 PM local time, the first of three waves of offshore yachts will start their 2225-mile journey to Honolulu in the 2013 Transpacific Yacht Race, aka the Transpac. This epic biennial race, in its 47th edition and organized by the Transpacific Yacht Club, this year features 59 entries from eight countries spread into nine divisions.
The slowest of these two divisions, Divisions seven and eight, will start tomorrow, with 15 entries crossing the starting line off Point Fermin, just west of Los Angeles Harbor. These include more modern cruiser-racers, like Michael Spies and Patinyakorn Buranrom’s Tripp 40 Sansiri and their mixed team of Thai, American and Australian crew, and classic yachts, such as Matt Brooks’s classic 1930 S&S 52-foot yawl Dorade and its all-pro mixed Anglo-American crew.
The smallest boat in the race, Edward Sanford’s J/105 Creative, will also be starting the race tomorrow, with a lean group of four crew.
In tomorrow’s Division seven start will be the highest percentage of international entries of any class in the race, with four of seven from outside the US. These include Sansiri from Thailand and three teams from Japan: Kazuhiro Nakajima’s Reichel/Pugh 44 Gefion, Hioshi Kitada’s X-41 KIHO, and Yuichi Takahashi’s First 40 Ten Quarter. In all there are six entries in the race from Japan.
This race has been an inspiration to all who dream of sailing over the horizon to the west, both young and old alike.
'I think this will be a great adventure, and everyone should have a good time,' said Shirley Fischer, who is sailing on Hiroyuki Funaoku and Janet Nicholson’s Jeanneau 43 Sun Odyssey DS Aquarius in her first Transpac. 'I’m 86 years young, I’ve sailed before with Hiro and my daughter Janet, and they asked me to come, so here I am. I’ve had my own boat before, just sailing from here to Catalina, but Hawaii of course is much further. So I’m looking forward to just being part of this, for going this far, and enjoying the experience.'
When asked about her role on the team, Fischer said 'I will do anything I can to help. But when on the helm I was asked to look out for refrigerators and whales!'
At yesterday’s Skipper’s and Navigator’s Meeting, participants learned the weather forecast for this fleet looks good, at least for the beginning phase of this race. Well-established at 1029 mb, the center of the Pacific High lies 900 miles west of San Francisco and will drive 10-20 knot northwest winds along the southern California coastal waters for the next three days, with higher speeds offshore, allowing this early fleet to get a fast start to their southwesterly tracks towards Hawaii.
And while these entries in the first start are not fast enough to break any course records, they may still win racing under the ORR system that uses a special Transpac course model to equalize the boats under handicap for this race. The second start in the race is on Thursday, July 11th, for the 21 boats in Divisions four, five, and six, and the last start is on Saturday, July 13th, for the 21 remaining monohull entries in Divisions one, two, and three, and also for the two multihulls entered in the race.
After the Skipper's briefing, crews got an early taste of Hawaiian hospitality last night at the Aloha Send-Off Party held at Gladstone’s Restaurant in Long Beach, where there were traditional Tahitian performances, hula dancing, and plenty of leis all around.
Once the race gets underway, race tracking will be provided using the Yellowbrick tracking system, and will be shown on the home page of the race website: website! A daily video analysis on the progress of the race will be provided by race veteran and Seahorse Magazine editor Dobbs Davis, with online access to the show also on the race website.
Information on the race, its history, the entries, crews and all race documents can be found at website!