Transpacific Yacht Race 2011.
Soon to depart Antigua for Panama, the Canal, and a return to the Pacific, the hard-traveling veteran, Alaska Eagle, will be back in California in time to accompany the Transpacific Yacht Race 2011 as Communications Vessel, a role she has played since 1983. Adventurous souls looking for an offshore experience can still find room aboard for the voyage back to the mainland from Hawaii, departing Honolulu on July 22.
Alaska Eagle once won a Whitbread Race Around the World, and her present long voyage that began last October 30, with stops at Easter Island in the South Pacific and then Chile, en route to Cape Horn and South Georgia Island, continues a tradition. Now owned by the Orange Coast College School of Sailing and Seamanship, Alaska Eagle sails with paying/learning student-crew in an environment that cannot be duplicated, the open ocean.
More than 3,000 people have spent time aboard while developing themselves into offshore sailors: trimming sails, learning navigation, sharing chores and the helm and discovering both the joys and the edgier realities of voyaging. Many are people looking forward to some long-distance voyaging on their own but wanting to first gain experience with a support team around them.
Over her years with OCC, Alaska Eagle has ranged far and wide. This latest venture, targeting South Georgia in the remote sub-Antarctic, took her to the realm of ice flows and penguin colonies, far from the beaten track. Think eight legs and a total of 60 students, under the tutelage of two Coast Guard licensed skippers and a professional cook.
After transiting the Panama Canal, the 65-footer will work her way home to Newport Beach, California. Her crew roster is full for the Los Angeles-Honolulu leg accompanying the Transpac Race, departing July 4, but there still are openings for Honolulu-San Francisco (July 22-August 9) and perhaps for San Francisco-Newport Beach.
Honolulu-San Francisco is a rewarding experience, says OCC Sailing's Karen Prioleau, a veteran skipper: 'The first few days leaving the islands are typically a bit rough. You might wonder what you've signed up for. But in the five times that I've sailed Hawaii-California, what I've liked about the route is that it has such a variety of conditions. It's a terrific experience and a terrific learning experience. By the second week, everybody has adjusted and the crew is sailing well.
At that point, probably, the wind has wrapped around to give you some nice downwind rides and you're getting into the rhythm of a passage. Whatever worries you left behind, they don't matter here, so you might as well just forget them.
'That's the beauty of Alaska Eagle,' Prioleau says. 'It's a boat with a pedigree. It will take care of you, and you can discover how you really take to offshore sailing. Eventually you arrive at the Golden Gate, with the bluffs rising up on both sides of you and San Francisco Bay opening up ahead of you and . . . that . . . is . . . a . . . thrill.'
Learn more about the Transpac communications vessel Alaska Eagle here
Transpac Race website