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Transpac 2011 - Take a peek

by Kimball Livingston on 8 Jul 2011
Warrior II - Transpac Yacht Race 2011 Kimball Livingston
Transpac Yacht Race 2011.

'Interesting' is a yawn word, but it is nonetheless interesting to observe that the pure-race boats of Division 6, from their Transpac start last Monday, have all worked north of rhumb line on a course that historically favors the south. Cruiser-types in the Aloha division of the Transpacific Yacht Race, meanwhile, have favored the southerly track of the measured 2,225-mile course from Los Angeles to Honolulu.

All 19 boats struggled with light winds at night in the inner coastal waters - with helmsmen accepting any course that kept the boat moving - and the big question hanging over the 34 larger, faster boats that enter the course on Friday is: Us too? Or can we get out of town in a hurry?

Even with a strategically built-in six-hour delay, the boat tracks as displayed on Transpac's Yellowbrick transponders tell a visual story. From the squiggly tracks of night one, with boats short-tacking in barely a breath of breeze, the tracks are now 'straight.' However, the leaders are passing through yet another band of relatively light wind, with the big breeze still out front.

Yesterday we said they could smell it. Today we can honestly say, they can still smell it, and man do they want it. The northerly boats are closer to it and making decent speed. The SC37, Celerity, northern-most in the fleet, needs another three degrees of longitude west to really get cranked up. Today should be the day. The dice are down. Now can we peek under the cups?

We will dutifully report that Charles Browning of Santa Barbara, California took over the first-place handicap position at Thursday morning roll call with his J/130, BeBe, but the fleet is at least 500 miles short of where handicap standings begin to mean something. For now, it's a race to the breeze. Larry Malmberg's Hassle continues to lead the Aloha fleet of eight boats.

Friday's starters include potential first-to-finish boats such as Doug Baker's 80-foot Magnitude 80 and Chicagoan Hap Fauth on a Left Coast tour with his 69-foot Bella Mente. There is also a group in the 50-foot range that should produce very tight competition. They will rally for a start off Point Fermin, San Pedro, with a warning signal at 12:55 pm and a starting gun at 1 pm. One start for all, for the sake of the spectacle, 'and we hope not too much spectacle,' as Principal Race Officer Dave Cort puts it.

Transpac's hard-working signal boat, Warrior II, is a story in itself. The 46-foot Grand Banks has always served the sport of sailing - you can judge the importance of a sailing race by how many powerboats it takes to run it - and this week Warrior II has shuttled between Monday's Transpac start and daily service at the Opti North American Championship at Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club. Following Wednesday's final day of competition, a very-international fleet of juniors was led overall by Tito Lados of Uruguay with a one-point win over Peter Janezik of Slovenia.

Third-place Russell Clarida, as a North American, was declared the winner of the North American Opti title for 2011. And now Warrior II returns to Transpac. Owner Fred Ripley's father left him Warrior II, which came with a trust fund to keep the boat in service to the race committees of Southern California.

For many participants, this is the first Transpac in memory without the late Roy Disney in the ranks. He was a presence from his first race in 1975, a Barn Door record holder off and on, a longstanding member of the board of directors of the Transpacific Yacht Club, and a philanthropist who cast a long shadow.

Disney's one-time course record holder, the Santa Cruz 70, Pyewacket, is now owned by Bill McClure of Los Angeles Yacht Club, who is campaigning the boat as a tribute to Roy. On Wednesday, McClure had Pyewacket blessed the way Roy would have done it, flying-in Disney's favorite Hawaiian priest, Danny Kaniela Akaka, for the ceremony.



Transpac Race 2011 website

* The Transpac Yacht Race 2011 is a 2,225 nautical mile course from Honolulu to Hawaii which began on 4th July and is organized by the Transpacific Yacht Club

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