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North Sails 2021 Innovation - LEADERBOARD

Transpac 2021: Five boats to watch

by North Sails 13 Jul 2021 03:57 PDT July 13, 2021
Ho'okolohe © Emma Deardorff / / Transpacific Yacht Club

The Transpac begins this week, with three staggered starts to keep the finish times close. This iconic bluewater classic always attracts a range of programs, from full-on professional teams to families looking for some cool downwind sailing.

Here's a little background about five different boats we'll be following as they make their way to Hawai'i.

Pyewacket was well-known even before 2019, when Roy Disney and crew rescued the nine-member OEX crew from their life rafts. For 2021, the boat's official title is Pyewacket 70—because the ride is now a Volvo 70. This experienced group includes past North Sails president Gary Weisman, who will be starting his 24th Transpac. (He and Disney are tied for most races sailed.) And all the forward sails include Helix, which has drastically reduced rig loads on their preferred triple-header sail plan.

"We have to balance all the tack loads so they don't go over a certain combined number," North Sails expert and trimmer Brian Janney explains. "With Helix, it takes a lot of pressure off the mast." Once around Catalina, he is looking forward to some fast offwind sailing under 3Di main, Helix A3, Helix J4, and Helix Inner Staysail.

Peligroso is a Ker 68 owned by Doug Baker, who's sailed an impressive 21 Transpacs. His veteran team includes North Sails designer Steve Calder, who will put his extensive Helix knowledge (and perhaps a few kiting skills) to work. North Sails expert Patrick Murray is one of the trimmers on this purpose-built sled, which has added a new A7 and A2 for the race.

North Sails expert Fuzz Foster worked with Peligroso to tailor their inventory. "The A7 is a true reaching kite to help the boat in the early stages of the race," he says. "The A2 is aimed specifically at running—more so than the boat's previous A2, which was an all-purpose sail."

Foster will be sailing his fourth Transpac on Ho'okolohe—as self-designated "Cat 3 cooler jockey"—and this year will check off a very important bucket list item: both his sons, Fizz and Travis, will be onboard. "I made a deal with Travis in 2019 that if I ever did another Transpac, he would be part of the crew. Every parent should be as lucky as me to do something like this."

Oaxaca is back to defend her 2019 class win, but so is her arch-rival Horizon. These two Santa Cruz 50s were designed forty years ago by Bill Lee to win races to Hawai'i; on the 2019 race, their corrected finishes were only twelve minutes apart—after over nine days of racing. Oaxaca navigator Liz Baylis will be sailing her fifth Transpac, and she says each one is memorable in a different way.

One of Liz's teammates will be racing from LA to Honolulu for the very first time. "I started following Bill Lee and his designs when I was a kid," Paul Cronin says, "and I've always wanted to do the Transpac on a Santa Cruz 50. Now I have the opportunity, thanks to Liz. And we have some very nice new North sails!"

BadPak won their class in 2019, and this year Tom Holthus and his team have a new boat. The 2018 Botin 56 looks very fast, says Pyewacket's Janney. "They haven't done a race with this boat yet, but they're probably going to beat us on corrected time." BadPak has an all-North inventory.

Compadres is the same Andrews 77 that Cal Maritime's offshore team sailed to third in division for the 50th Transpac in 2019. Now jointly owned by a group of friends, the boat has had an extensive refit above and below decks. The team includes two generations of two different families: David Dahl with sons Michael and Sean, and Bart Scott with daughter Brett. Their stated goal is to sail a race that will be "safe, fast, and fun."

The first seven boats start on Tuesday July 13th; 15 more leave LA on Friday July 16th; and the fastest 19 entries start on Saturday, July 17th. The long-term weather forecast predicts a fairly traditional race breeze-wise, so Comanche's 2017 race record of five and a half days is probably safe. There are only two marks on the 2225 mile course: leave the west end of Catalina Island to port, and finish at Diamond Head off Honolulu. Expect boats to begin arriving in Hawai'i on about July 23.

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