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Transpac first finishers on final approach

by Transpacific Yacht Club 22 Jul 18:35 PDT From July 13, 2021

All eyes are on the YB trackers now to anticipate the arrival of the first finishers in the 2021 Transpac. The favorable weather in this year's race of 2225 miles from LA to Honolulu has resulted in shorter distances and higher speeds for the fleet than in many other editions of this classic biennial ocean race, with boats starting to arrive in the pre-dawn hours tonight through the morning and into the afternoon.

First in line is Roy Disney's turbo Volvo 70 Pyewacket, whose high speed approach from the north east is burning the remaining miles quickly. At Noon local time they were "only" 279 miles from the finish line at Diamond Head, a distance most boats do in a day of hard racing but at their speeds of 20+ knots will put them within the finish area after midnight in the wee hours. In fact, they should be triggering the 200-mile live tracker radius at about 4:00 PM local time, allowing race fans to watch them progress in real time with updates every 15 minutes.

Next in line is Cecil and Lynn Rossi's Farr 57 Ho'okolohe, who at Noon were only 237 miles out, and at their speeds of 11-12 knots they will be the first daylight finisher sometime around 8 AM - if all continues to go well. Transpac finishes at dawn at Diamond Head are spectacular, so it will be a beautiful arrival for this mixed team of Claifornia and Hawaii-based sailors.

These two will start a wave of other finishers coming into either the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor in Waikiki or for the deep draft boats into Honolulu harbor. Pyewacket, for example, is planning to berth at the Aloha Tower near downtown, which will be fairly quiet in the pre-dawn hours except for those greeting Disney and his team.

Assuming all goes well, race officials with the Transpacific YC will be on hand to present the famous first-to-finish Barn Door Trophy to the team upon arrival. This has been a recent tradition with Barn Door winners so that the entire team may enjoy the moment before the pro sailors run for the airport and the others run for the showers and the welcome arms of family and friends.

And it turns out that with no large final awards ceremony planned for this year, all teams winning perpetual awards in the race will be also be presented their trophies in ceremonies organized to be soon after finishing.

Meanwhile teams out on the course are settling into their routines of fast downwind sailing and finding the time to be expressive about their adventures at sea. This lengthy account is from John Schulze's crew on his Santa Cruz 50 Horizon:

"The significant event of the last 24 hours of sailing was that blue skies greeted us this morning after an intense 10-minute rain shower at 7AM. The crew on deck got a free shower with fresh rainwater! Winds continue from a north/northeasterly direction as we sail along on our Code 2 spinnaker, but wind velocities have increased to 20-22 kts with a brief period of 24 kts while we were in the vicinity of the rainstorm. Seas are now a bit bigger which is good for us because frequently it allows the opportunity to surf down a wave, thus increasing our average speed toward the mark.

"One side effect of the bigger seas was that when the wind and rain increased, one rogue wave managed to splash over the top of the cabin house and into the aft cockpit and down an open cabin hatch. Horizon is normally quite a dry boat, even in rough seas. The unwelcome wave prompted us to move the on-deck sail bags (ie ballast) further back to re-distribute weight and keep the bow further above the attacking waves.

"We continue to be about 13 miles behind the lead boat [Steve Sellinger's SC 50 sistership Triumph] which is less than one hour's sailing time at current boat speeds. Temperatures are warm but not overly warm except when sitting directly in the sun, which is now shining down on us with great intensity. We have our cooling fans going full force below decks to avert the eastern Pacific heat and the crew are now walking around without shirts. The sea breezes are still fresh and cooling.

"Last night we ate tortilla chips and a great enchilada dish prepared by Jennifer Bose, Len's wife, and everyone enjoyed it immensely. Great taste! And this morning cereal, yoghurt, coffee and milk were on offer for breakfast.

"Our MVP was again Chris [Villcich] for going up the rig to fix a lower runner detachment to the mast which had shaken loose during a jibe.

All the crew are in good spirits, and getting at least some sleep although last night was pretty demanding sailing for the rotating watch crews on deck!"

At their current rate of progress, Horizon will arrive to the finish among a huge wave of finishers expected on Sunday, July 25th.

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