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Super Yachts at boot (newsletter)

First finishers in Transpac

by Transpacific Yacht Club 6 Jul 15:04 PDT
2023 Transpac © Transpacific Yacht Club

This morning at 02:48 Hawaii Standard Time Justin Shaffer's MOD70 ORION crossed the finish line at Diamond Head as the first finisher in the 2023 Transpac. Their elapsed time of 4 days 17 hours 48 minutes fell short of breaking the multihull course record of 4D 6H 32M set by H.L. Enloe's ORMA 60 MIGHTY MERLOE in 2017, but impressive nonetheless considering the slow start last week's Saturday starters encountered while getting off the California coast. Among both Multihulls and Monohulls this is nonetheless the 6th fastest elapsed time in the entire history of the race, first sailed in 1906.

The ORION crew of six (photo courtesy of Mark Brouch) included Paul Allen, Hogan Beatie, Morgan Larson, Cam Lewis, Matt Noble and Justin Shaffer.

ORION's sistership MASERATI MULTI 70 skippered by Giovanni Soldini was about 200 miles astern, with this team from Italy finishing at 08:55 HST for an elapsed time of 4D 23H 55M, the 8th fastest time in Transpac history. Photo of MASERATI below courtesy of Mai Norton.

Both teams followed a strategy common to this year's fleet: a North Pacific high pressure centered well north of its usual position allowed teams to closely follow the rhumb line for most of the race, thereby minimizing the distance to Hawaii. Only in the last few days on the west side of the racecourse do the 15-20 knot breezes shift more to the east from the northeast, prompting teams to sail north of the rhumb line on starboard tack to stay in the best wind velocity before gybing to port to make their final approaches to Hawaii.

These last 1000 miles to the finish have the champagne sailing conditions that Transpac is famous for: clear days and starlit nights of glorious downwind sailing under spinnaker, with the occasional shift to gybe to reduce the distance to Diamond Head. Teams are well into their routines, perhaps punctuated by an occasional sail change or rain squall.

With the multihulls finished, the question now becomes: who will be the first monohull to cross the finish line?

Bill McKinley's Ker 46+ DENALI3 is a strong contender for this honor. With 485 miles to go at 0700 PDT today and at boat speeds of 11-12 knots, this fast carbon race boat and it's Michigan-based team who started a week ago in Ocean Navigator Division 4 will soon pass the three leading cruiser/racer teams of Tuesday starters in Boatswains Locker Division 7 who are sailing at a 2-3 knot slower pace. If DENALI3 continues at the current rate she could be at Diamond Head in about 40 hours, at or before dawn on Saturday.

Once these and all Transpac finishers arrive in Hawaii, they are greeted with the warm hospitality of Aloha spirit that permeates this culture. Whether the first to finish or the Tail End Charlie, at the finish of this race there are dozens of Hawaiian volunteers that help make everyone feel welcomed and embraced on having completed one of the world's best ocean races.

This hospitality and support takes many forms: the Race Committee who are 24/7 stationed at Diamond Head Lighthouse to witness finishes; the escort vessel that leads finishers from Diamond Head into the Ala Wai Harbor and to their assigned slip, day or night, sun or rain; those who process the boat's paperwork formalities and inspection on entering Hawaii; photographers who are on call 24/7 to take crew photos; and the volunteers who stay on watch at Transpac YC's two-story headquarters known as "The Shack" positioned in the Ala Wai Marina where all questions from the teams and their fans can be answered.

There are also the many members and staff of the partner yacht clubs on Oahu - Hawaii YC, Waikiki YC and Kaneohe YC - that plan and execute the parties and award ceremonies; those that organize and take care of the dozens of amazing perpetual trophies that are an important part of Transpac history - and determine who is eligible to win these awards; and finally those that organize each team's Aloha parties of pineapple Mai Tai's and pupus to welcome crew members back to being on terra firma, along with their friends and loved ones.

Transpac is not like any other event in the ocean racing world in offering this level of care and attention to their participants - no wonder so many come back to participate in what is truly a race to paradise.

All entries in Transpac can be tracked on the YB system, sponsored by Pasha Hawaii. The positions, speeds and headings of each entry can be found on this system on either the browser of app versions. There is a built-in 4 hour delay for each entry, except when within 200 miles of the finish when the tracker goes live. Use this link to follow the fleet:

For more information on the 2023 Transpac, visit

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