All 34 of the boats entered in the second and last start of Transpac 2011 reported-in today to answer the guns and were last seen disappearing over the horizon to the west.
Bunch-up at the pin end - Transpac 2011
The 1 p.m. start was all-clear and clean - with a big sag in the middle of a long line - and the fleet quickly spread out from a start that included some very bunched subgroups. At the pin, Ricardo Brockman's R-P 52 Vincitore looked good at minus 90 seconds, but bailed and started with the second tier, behind Per Petersen's Andrews 68, Alchemy.
Prospects are good for a fast race for Friday starters. The Pacific High Pressure Zone is no longer 'misbehaving' as the Weather Underground's Matt Gregory puts it: 'The Eastern Pacific weather scenario has come back to center. The High promises to set up shop in one spot and grow very big and fat, building from 1028 mb to a massive 1036 mb by the middle of next week. The best winds should be shifting south as the High grows, and navigators will be chasing the migration of the isobars, playing the classic Transpac tradeoff between distance sailed and boat speed. Standard stuff for this group, but it won't be easy to convince the people who started last Monday that this is a 'standard' race.'
No, early starters have struggled right along, and now that the north side of the Monday start group has reached the good breeze - they're spread along a 200-mile north-south line - they really, really (really) have to be thinking about getting south.
Meanwhile, two of Monday's 19 starters have dropped out. Crash reported a massive fresh water leak and not enough water to safely continue toward Honolulu. Narrow Escape, all the way down from Nanaimo, British Columbia for doublehanding by Greg Constable and Doug Backhouse, dropped out today with a busted autopilot. Both boats are returning to Southern California.
Add social notes: Jorge Ripstein's entry from the Club de Yates de Acapulco, the TP52 Patches, was entered, then withdrawn due to a family matter, then re-entered as a last-minute hurry-up. American sailmaker Bruce Cooper said, 'I called Jorge to talk to him about maybe chartering a J/boat, and ten minutes into the conversation it was all about getting Patches ready to go, no matter what.' The crew then churned through a fast few weeks and were still hard at work on details on the day before the start. Skip McCormack popped his head up from the interior at about 4 p.m. and announced, 'OK, everything's talking (the electronics) to everything.' Next door, the Open 60, O Canada, was all buttoned up. Asked what he planned to do with the day, skipper Richard Clarke said, 'We're going to the movies.' What movie? 'Transformers.' O Canada received pizza delivery on the morning of the race, but we're pretty sure that's not the store for the voyage.
First away from the dock was Truth, an Open 50 that Philippe Kahn and 'Crusty' Christensen in 2009 sailed to a new doublehanded record under the name (as with all of Kahn's boats) of Pegasus. Truth is being doublehanded in 2011 by Alex Mehran and Jesse Naimark-Rouse. They trained first in San Francisco but really appreciated their pre-race time in Long Beach. Your humble reporter has lost track of just who said what, but the gist was: 'It was hard in San Francisco, because we'd beat ourselves up getting to weather, then we'd set a spinnaker and start hitting speeds in the twenties, and before we knew it we were running out of water, closing-in on the bricks. Here we got a lot done. We went out, looked at four spinnakers, looked at some staysails-yep, got a lot done.'
Kahn, with his latest Pegasus, a de-turbo'd Andrews 68, was calmly the last to depart Rainbow Harbor, where Sea Fest continues, even without the Transpac fleet in town. Long Beach has embraced Transpac and even added a Walk of Fame, per the example below. Thank you, Long Beach. Having Rainbow Harbor as a rallying place is a big boost for Transpac.
It was no accident that a Los Angeles Pilot Boat was out to blow a horn for the SC50, Allure. The boat's skipper, Jim Morgan, was once a pilot himself. That's one big toot to you, Jim.
So it's Catalina to port, and as the fleet disappeared it even looked good for cracking sheets beyond the West End. The 46th Transpacific Yacht Race is fully under way.
*The Transpac follows a 2,225-mile course from California to Hawaii, San Pedro to Honolulu.