Transpac Race 2011 - Fickle winds give way to steadier breezes

Transpac Race 2011
Kimball Livingston/Transpac
Transpac Race 2011 46th event, run by the Transpacific Yacht Club, commenced on the 4th July.

Transpac leaders are beginning to smell the ocean breeze they crave as they clear the inner coastal waters for the open Pacific. The 1D35 owned by Alex Farrell, Alpha Puppy, continues as the handicap leader of Racing Division 6 today, which is always energizing for the crew even though they know very well it is too early in the game for the standings to matter.

The fickle winds of the first night have given way to steadier breezes, especially for the fleet leaders who favored the north side of the track and focused from the get-go on making distance west. Along with Alpha Puppy that would be Harry Zanville's SC37, Celerity, the boat farthest-north, and Charles Browning's J/130, BeBe.

Larry Malmberg's Catalina 38, Hassle, has a grip for the moment on the handicap lead in the Aloha Class. Elsewhere among the eight boats in this race-division-for-cruisers, we get a glimpse of the first-night blues from this follow-up report by Michael Lawler, who used the 2007 race as the first leg of a circumnavigation aboard Traveler, his North Wind 47. Now he's back for another go, at the race, not another circumnavigation. Lawler's report: 'At midnight on a moonless night we got stuck in the mother of all kelp paddies. It took an hour to get free, and early the next morning, Ric Sanders had to dive in, with a filet knife in his teeth, to cut kelp from the prop shaft. This was not good, but now we have a half-decent excuse for being in fifth place (out of eight boats in our class.) Lots of dolphins on our bow, and they swam with us playfully for a half hour or so. For centuries sailors have claimed this as a sign of good luck. We need it.'

Prior to the start, Traveler was at the dock proudly flying the country flags from its circumnavigation, as we see below. Social note: Traveler was the only boat to leave the dock with a bagpiper piping.

Today's best reported 24-hour run was the 105 miles made by Crash, Jeff Braugh's Aerodyne 43. That's hardly fast for this race, but the numbers should improve beginning today as the fleet advances into the synoptic breeze blowing from the northwest, down the California coastline. Historically, distance south is desirable in this 2,225-mile classic race from Los Angeles to Honolulu. In 2011, however, the two boats that made an early effort to 'take a bite' out of the south side of the track have fared badly. Wind Dancer (some 55 miles south of Celerity) and Second Chance may look good soon, if and only if they also get the new breeze quickly. The daily leaders to the north are going to have to come back south, to the rhumb line, at some stage, and that's why they call this a navigator's race.

To view the fleet and Division breaks for 53 boats, 32 feet to 80 feet, entered in the Transpacific Yacht Race click here.

Transpac Race website