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LA-Honolulu Race - Dismasting, debris and dazzling speed

by Transpac media on 16 Jul 2013
Phaedo dismating - 2013 LA-Honolulu Race Lloyd Thornburg/Team Phaedo
Today, in the 2225-mile LA-Honolulu Race organized by the Transpacific YC, or the Transpac, it was a glorious day for some teams, but not great for others.

Earlier today the Transpacific YC received the following report: 'At 1830 UTC (1130 PDT) Phaedo dismasted in location 28 58.247N 130 09.576W. Everyone onboard is fine, we have secured the boat, cutting away the mast and section of the boom, and are now heading towards the LA area under engine.

'At the time of the dismasting we were sailing under A4 at around 16 kts.'

A sat phone interview with the team indicated they thought the top of the mast failed first, and then the rest came down soon after. The true wind speed was about the same as boat speed: 16 knots. No indications yet of what exactly failed, but this will be examined once Lloyd Thornburg's Gunboat 66 is safely back to shore.

Without enough spar left to set a jury rig, Phaedo is headed back towards LA under power, making about 6 knots. At this speed the team reckons they have about 250 miles range in fuel, which means they will require fuel assistance to complete the remainder of the trip to the coast.

Other teams have been facing other dangers, reporting floating debris that if hit could cause serious damage to any boat, but particularly carbon fiber race boats traveling at high speeds. For example, Chip Megeath's R/P 45 Criminal Mischief in Division 4 sighted a 15-foot chunk of floating telephone pole at 28 31.25 N 129 21.66 W, and Ross Pearlman's Jeanneau 52 Between the Sheets reported a 35-foot tree trunk floating 100 yards off her port bow at approximately 28-18N 134-59W.

Finally, Bob Hayward's Seastream 650 Manatea still leads the fleet to Hawaii in Division 8, but said they struck a 10-foot section of what probably was a telephone pole at 28-35N 138-54W. Manatea and crew are OK and sailing, but also reported miscellaneous floating pieces of lumber, 'like the structure of a house.'

No doubt these are all pieces of wreckage from the March 2011 T?hoku Tsunami tragedy in Japan, making its way in the currents the circulate around the north Pacific. Transpacific YC has advised all mariners to maintain a sharp lookout.

But the other news is good: the fleet is still hurtling fast towards Hawaii at dazzling speeds, and course records are not out of the question as Giovanni Soldini's canting-keeled Volvo 70 Maserati rolled off another 400+ mile day (423 to be exact) to average 17.6 knots, and thus also take the Division 1 lead in corrected time from David Askew's R/P 74 Wizard.

At these speeds Maserati and Syd Fischer's Elliott 100 Ragamuffin 100, who is only a few miles away, are both on record pace: Neville Crichton's R/P 100 Alfa Romeo II in 2009 set the monohull course record of 5D 14H 36M 20S in 2009 for an average speed over course of about 16.5 knots. Whoever finishes first would win the Merlin Trophy for fastest monohull in the race, but if a record falls they would also win the Transpac Honolulu Race Elapsed Time Trophy, aka the Clock Trophy, donated by Roy Disney, which he himself won on Pyewacket in 1997 and again in 1999.

And the Barn Door Trophy for the fastest of the fixed-keel entries could not only go to Wizard if they maintain their lead, but they might even beat their own record time of 6D 19H 44M 28S set in 2011 when sailed as Belle Mente if her current pace of averaging 16.3 knots is able to hold.

But its still early days, and these teams still have many miles to cover before surfing into the finish line at Honolulu's Diamond Head.

Nonetheless, the Division 1 speedsters have already overtaken some of the boats in Thursday's Division 4, 5, and 6 starters. At midday today Division 6 was being led by Jeff Urbina's Santa Cruz 52 Bodacious Dream, while Division 5 was still being led by Gordon Leon's Farr 40 Foil, and Division 4 by Bob Pethick's Rogers 46 Bretwalda 3.

And like yesterday, Isao Mita's Judel/Vrolijk TP52 Beecom leads a Division 2 filled with similar designs, and Roy Pat Disney's Andrews 70 Pyewacket leads the ULDB Sleds in Division 3.

The weather for the next 24 hours is expected to remain about the same for boats in the middle and front of the pack, with the trailing boats on the course possibly escaping a light air patch that has been forecasted to develop at about 130°W Transpac YC website
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