Report from the Honolulu Transpacific Committee – It has been described as a life changing adventure, a whirlwind of unbelievable competition and a seafaring challenge unlike any other in the world. This is Transpac. In just under 1 month on July 8, 2013 there will be 59 skippers racing their boats towards Hawaii from Long Beach, along with novice, intermediate and professional crews. As of June 20, 2013 Transpac has received four entries from Hawaii-based boats, Pyewacket, Kahuna, Casch Mer and Grand Illusion. Of course, Hawaii’s very own James McDowell, skipper of Grand Illusion, was the winner in the last Honolulu Race (2011) of the King Kalakaua Trophy awarded to the First Corrected Overall yacht. Hundreds of sailors from Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Italy, California, Mexico, Chicago, Japan, San Francisco, and now a late entry from Thailand, along with many other ports of call, will very soon head across the Pacific Ocean in this historic yacht race.
Sending them off from our Mainland Base around Rainbow Harbor in Long Beach will be a dedicated crew of Transpac volunteers. The first finish in Honolulu may be as early as July 13, 2013 where families, friends, crew and yacht enthusiasts will welcome 59 plus entrants from all over the world. This offshore yacht race starts off Point Fermin, San Pedro near Los Angeles on July 8 and ends off Diamond Head Lighthouse in Honolulu, a distance of around 2,225 nautical miles. Hawaii Yacht Club, founded in 1901 is the 2013 host for 47th Transpacific Yacht Race from Long Beach to Honolulu.
The 2013 Transpacific Yacht Race was originally inspired by King David Kalakau`a, the revered leader of the late 19th century, to initiate the islands’ economic and cultural ties to the mainland. For this year’s race Transpac is pleased to announce Prince Quentin and Prince David Kawananakoa’s acceptance in presenting the prestigious King Kalakau`a Cup trophy for the “Overall Corrected” First Place finisher in the upcoming Transpacific Yacht Race Award Ceremony at The Modern Honolulu ballroom on Thursday July 25, 2013. King Kalakau`a’s yacht, “Healani,” won the Challenge Trophy first on July 4, 1889.
During the years that the King was an active yachting enthusiast, it was his custom to invite the skippers and crews of the competing boats to join him at his boat house following the July 4 race. Here it was his happy habit to fill the Challenge Trophy (as it was originally named) with champagne and pass it around for all to enjoy as a loving cup. Hence the trophy’s colloquial name, the “Kalakau`a Cup.” This maritime event, started in 1906, brings together more than 600 volunteers and 3 yacht clubs to a concentrated celebratory week with yachts moored over 3 Oahu harbors.
The entire trophy collection will be on exhibit from July 14 to July 24 for public viewing on the Studio floor level of The Modern Honolulu, located in Waikiki at the Ala Wai Harbor.
There will be young sailors on their first transpacific crossing, along with highly experienced yacht racers from across the globe and others who will experience their most life changing race ever. With over 500 racers sailing on 61 crews, one thing can be said: each crossing will be as unique as each sailor’s own experience and adventure. Held biennially on odd-numbered years, Transpac is one of only six races listed as Ocean Classics in the book “Top Yacht Races of the World.” The race is open to boats both large and small with sailors being amateur and professional. Transpac holds itself apart from other major ocean races being known as “downwind” race due to weather patterns in the eastern Pacific. The route is never just a straight line to Hawaii due to the “Pacific High” shifting high pressure and light winds. Boats sail south against the wind for two or three days until sailing faster with the warm trade winds. From the 1960’s to the 1980’s an evolution occurred in Transpac racing from small lightweight boats known for “downhill” performance transformed to large ocean racers, MaxZ86s and other ultra light speed burners which have led to record finishes.
In 2005, the current Monohull record then was broken by Morning Glory, a Reichel/Pugh-designed MaxZ86. Morning Glory broke the record with an overall time of 06:19:4:11. This record beat the original record set by the third of Roy E. Disney’s Pyewacket’s in 1999 by 19 ½ hours. Again, in 2009, a new record for the Monohull class was broken by Alfa Romeo II who beat the Morning Glory record for best day’s run set in the 2005 race, by sailing 399 nautical miles (459 mi; 739 km) in 24 hours. The next two days she broke her own best-day record by sailing 420 nautical miles (480 mi; 780 km) and 431 nautical miles (496 mi; 798 km).
First to finish the 2009 Transpac, Alfa Romeo II set a Transpac race elapsed-time record of 5 days, 14 hours, 36 minutes, 20 seconds. However, because she must use “stored power” (a diesel engine) to move, Alfa Romeo II, sailing in the “unlimited” class, was not eligible for the traditional “Barn Door” trophy. Instead, it was the inaugural winner of a new trophy dedicated by Trisha Steele, called the “Merlin Trophy.” In the double-handed division, Pegasus 50, sailed by Philippe Kahn and Mark Christensen, set a new record of 7 days, 19 hours, 38 minutes and 35 seconds. They pioneered use of an iPhone, with Fullpower-MotionX GPS technology.
Transpac gives sailors the opportunity to compete against a diverse group of boats and competitors. In 1979, there were all-women crews, as well as a crew made up of all men, in 1997, who with HIV/AIDs brought attention and hope for a cure. With Double handed crews appearing in the races since 1995, in 2005 there was a record of seven double handed entries along with the first all-women duo and first coed team, James and Ann Read, who in no hurry finished with the slowest race time of 22 ½ days.
The largest boat to ever race was the 161-foot Goodwill with a time of 10 ½ days in 1959 versus the smallest boat in 1999, a 25-foot B-25 named Vapor, sailed by both Bill Boyd and Scott Atwood from Long Beach. With the course still the same, the size of the boats are now restricted by an imposed “speed limit” rating on each entry evaluating the potential performance.
Those who are the fastest traditionally compete for the Transpacific Yacht Club Perpetual Trophy; however since 1991 the starts have been staggered. Two of the youngest crews were recruited and trained by Roy Disney Sr. in 2007. The crew of 15 sailors ages 18 to 23 sailed a Transpac52 called Morning Light, and Roy Disney also produced a popular documentary of the same name of their boat.
The oldest crew in Transpac history, a full crew of six men ages 66 to 72, sailed Lloyd Sellinger’s Cal 40 Bubala. Never having lost a sailor in the race, Transpac continues to succeed. Sailors meet a week or more before the start to enjoy all that Long Beach has to offer before setting sail 8 miles west to the race start at Point Fermin.