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Aloha spirit at final awards of Transpac 50

by Transpacific Yacht Club 28 Jul 23:09 PDT 10-25 July 2019
Crew of Comanche with the First Monohull to Finish Barn Door trophy - Transpac 50 © Walt Cooper / Ultimate Sailing

"Aaaalloooh-haaah!" This greeting repeated in unison by the crowd of over 600 attendees is how Transpacific Yacht Club Commodore Tom Hogan commenced the Awards Ceremony to the 50th edition of the LA - Honolulu Transpacific Yacht Race on Friday night. For the next two hours this audience was entertained by local Hawaiian dancers, photo and video images of the race, a few stories to provide context, and an awards ceremony emceed by Chuck Hawley where dozens of beautiful and historic trophies were presented to winners in numerous categories of multihull and monohull divisions in the race.

With ten divisions of monohulls and two divisions of multihulls, and awards given to the winners, runners-up and in the larger classes third-place finishers as well, there were lots of leis and trophies distributed in this ceremony. Here is a summary of each:

The Cal 40's are an important part of Transpac history, and this year had an impressive turnout of 6 boats. Unfortunately one had to turn back, so they missed the fight into the finish between the top three. The Eddy family's Callisto emerged from that fight on top, while Rodney Pimentel's Azure and Don Jesberg's Viva margin for second and third, respectively, was only 2 1/2 minutes in corrected time after 12 days of racing.

Division 9 was one of the smallest with four boats, but had a great diversity of boat types. Ian Ferguson's Wasa 55 Nadelos finished only 3 minutes ahead of Christian Doegl's Swan 461 Free, but in corrected time managed to win the class by over 13 hours.

Division 8 was another small and diverse class of boats, made smaller by two retirements early in the race due to rudder issues. Nonetheless Dean Treadway's Farr 36 Sweet Okole came out on top but not by much: by just under 8 minutes in corrected time.

Like Divisions 8 and 9, Division 7 was also a very diverse class of entries that was also reduced by two retirements due to rudder problems. Chubasco campaigned by Tom Akin, John Carpenter, Doug Baker and Will Durant has a long history in Transpac, having been built in 1937, and went through an extensive refit of 2 1/2 years to be the winning team this year. A moment of silence was observed in the awards ceremony for crew member Jim Lincoln who passed after the conclusion of the race.

Division 6 had 11 boats an only one retirement, with another (David Chase and Carlos Brea's Fast 42 Uhambro) that broke their mast but finished the race under jury rig. This was the fastest of the five classes starting in the first wave of the race, and aside from having to dive south for a little while, the wind never stopped for them. Winner of this division was Scott Grealish's J/121 BlueFlash from Oregon with not only an all-amateur team to qualify for the Corinthian Division, but also two father/son pairs on their team of six.

Division 5 was the smallest class in the race with only three boats because of the second wave of starters they were not a good fit with the other racier boats in the other classes. Tom Barker's Swan 60 Good Call finished an entire day ahead of his class rivals, and corrected time compressed that margin to just a couple hours.

Division 4 was a group of eleven boats often called the Fabulous Fifties being composed of all Santa Cruz-designed and built 50's and 52's. With many of these having years and years of experience, this is often a highly-competitive class, and this year was no exception: Michael Moradzadeh's Santa Cruz 50 Oaxaca won by a margin of less than 12 minutes.

With no roadblocks on the race course and the opportunity for little deviations due to the position of the High, many predicted the overall winner of the race would come from Division 3's thirteen boats, and it did. Congratulations to Shawn Dougherty, Jason Andrews and their team on their J/125 Hamachi for their outstanding performance.

For many years Division 2 was the class that had all the first-to-finish boats in Transpac. With a strong turnout of nine entries this class was also going to be closely watched due to all the collective years of Transpac experience and having some of the best teams on the course. Regrettably two of the class members dropped out, but the competition remained keen among those who went on the Hawaii, with Jim Yabsley and Mary Compton's team on their R/P 70 Taxi Dancer winning by a close margin of less than three minutes in corrected time.

Division 1 was the largest class on the race course with fifteen boats of the fastest types of monohulls, and ranged widely from 40 to 100 feet in length. From this class is where the Barn Door and Merlin Trophies reside for fastest elapsed time performance, but in corrected time this year's winner is Tom Holthus's Pac 52 Bad Pak.

Had it not been for the hiccup the first night the Saturday starters tried to get off the coast, Multihull Division 0 could have had a real high-speed chess game all the way to Hawaii. But it was Jason Carroll's MOD 70 Argo that just got their nose into the pressure first and sped away from all others to win this class.

Blog followers enjoyed getting the daily stories of what food was being served on Lior Elazary's Lagoon 400S2 Celestra, so even though they were the entry with the longest elapsed time of 13 days 20 hours, TPYC congratulates them for winning Multihull Class 0A and also one of our sponsors, The Moorings, for the business they will receive now that everyone knows how comfortable it is sailing these boats offshore.

In addition to these performance prizes, numerous special awards were given for deeded perpetual trophies not only in categories such as First Monohull to Finish (the Barn Door Trophy, won this year by Jim Cooney and Samantha Grant's VPLP 100 Comanche), or the Rudi Choi Award for the First to Finish Multihull (won by Argo), but also special Navigator Awards to the navigators on each division-winning entry, the Don Clothier Award for the fastest cruiser under 50 feet (Michael Lawler's North Wind 47 Traveler) and the Tail End Charlie award to the last finisher on the course (won by Jason Seibert's Schock 40 Gamble).

Some of these special awards are in remembrance to individuals who have helped make Transpac the legendary race it has become and are therefore recognised as an important part of the heritage of this event. One is the Mark S. Rudiger Award (aka the Rudi Trophy) dedicated to world-class navigator Mark Rudiger who not won this race many times but other prominent ocean races around the world. The perpetual trophy is a special brass sextant built in 1905 donated by another famous navigator, Stan Honey. The criteria for winning this award is for demonstrated skills in celestial and traditional navigation, and this year it was presented by another well-accomplished navigator, John Jourdane, to Paul Kamen, better known by his nom de plume Max Ebb in the Bay Area's popular sailing monthly Latitude 38.

Another was the new Ronald L. Burla Trophy for Media Excellence in memory of a Transpac sailor from the 1930's who went on to be a founding member of the Waikiki YC and tireless promoter of the race as Publicity Director of the Hawaii Visitor's Bureau in the 1950's and '60's. Burla's daughters Michele Burla Parker and Pam Burla presented this new trophy to Dallas Kilponen sailing on Patrick Broughton's 1964-built S&S 73 ketch Kialoa II, for his outstanding video shot, edited and submitted during the race. The jury noted Kilponen's outstanding ability to capture the history, joy and aloha spirit inherent to racing in the Transpac.

The Nash Family Corinthian Award was given to Thomas Garnier's crew on this J/125 Reinrag2 for the best performance in the fleet for an all-amateur team...they finished 5th in Division 3 and fifth overall.

Yet another new trophy was established by the Storm Trysail Club this year to be awarded to the 3-boat team which compiles the best score, as determined by using the total of each team member's percentage placement in its respective class. Eleven teams entered this competition, which was won by Naughty Blue Tequila team comprised of Nadelos ("naughty"), Azure ("blue") and Oaxaca ("tequila"). So with a first in class by Oaxaca and Nadelos, and a 3rd in class by Azure, this team secured the trophy for 2019.

Finally, a prize not planned in the program but appropriately presented at the ceremony was US Sailing's Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal awarded to Roy Disney and the crew of his Andrews 68 Pyewacket for their outstanding efforts in the rescue of John Sangmeister and his crew of the Santa Cruz 70 OEX. The rudder damage, fast sinking and subsequent safe and timely rescue of the OEX team made headlines around the world for the Pyewacket team's exemplary seamanship and sportsmanship to come quickly to the aid of a competitor in trouble at sea.

Having an auditorium full of peers who profoundly understand and appreciate the risk of offshore sailing, this dramatic story retold in detail by Sangmeister elicited tremendous emotion throughout the audience, and when Disney took the stage the entire room rose in ovation to salute him and his crew, who were subsequently joined by the crew of OEX as well.

The honor conveyed both in the Hanson award and that bestowed by the salute of the auditorium filled with the sailors, families, friends, organisers and sponsors of Transpac 50 will be remembered as one of the great moments in Transpac history. Disney has already been nominated for Seahorse Sailor of the Month...vote for him here.

For more information on Transpac 50 and its history, events and sponsors, visit the main website at 2019.transpacyc.com

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