Transpac Race: It’s Never Like This

Published on July 21st, 2015

(July 21, 2015) – There have been 47 previous editions of the Transpac Race, and while many blend together, this year is likely to standout for some time. Prior to the 2,225 nm race, the veterans sensed this one was going to be different, and it hasn’t disappointed.

“Roy Disney has done 20 Transpacs, and he says the weather pattern predicted for this year’s race is the most unusual he’s ever seen,” said Mark Richards, skipper of Wild Oats XI. Now on their third day, the race is living up to the forecast. With 100 Transpacs amongst the six Americans in the crew, they have never seen a race like it.

“The Americans are telling us this is the most complicated Transpac they’ve ever seen,” said Wild Oats XI’s navigator, Nick White. “They’ve never sailed this far into the race and not had a jib set at any stage, nor have they ever had a spinnaker set so soon after the start.”

The first wave of starters (July 13) are now at a tactical stage, with decisions on when to abandon their northerly track and gybe to port and aim at the finish. While the wind has been strongest to the north, the leaders are coming out of the middle of the group, as those that have sailed the extra miles further north are not getting the reward needed to recover their investment.

Paul Stemler’s J/44 Patriot continues to lead Division 7 and the fleet overall, while Ron Simonson’s Jeanneau SO44 Sleeper is leading Division 8 and is third overall. Harry Zanville’s Santa Cruz 37 Celerity, with now 600 nm to the finish, leads the field on elapsed time and is sitting second overall.

The second wave (July 16) and third wave (July 18) are now one group, with the big boys now playing through the mostly 40 to 50 footers that make up Divisions 4, 5, and 6. Obstacles ahead include a light air zone that has begged the question, “How far north must we go to avoid it?”

All eyes are on the 100 footers for a clue, as Ragamuffin 100 has gone far north, Rio 100 has had a more moderate approach, whereas Division 1 leader Wild Oats XI looks to be abandoning their southern position to get in front of Rio 100. Any signs of success among this threesome will provide answers to those that follow.

Tim Fuller’s doublehanded J/125 Resolute now leads Division 4, Erick Gray’s Santa Cruz 50 Allure has moved into the lead in Division 5, while John Chamberlain and Dean Fargo continue to lead Division 6 with their Swan 651 Second Wind.

Giving some credence to the “north, but not too far north” route are the third wave leaders. Craig Reynold’s TP52 Bolt leads Division 2, James McDowell’s Santa Cruz 70 Grand Illusion leads Division 3, and the Multihull division is led by the Gunboat 62 Chim Chim owned by John Gallagher.

With the speed of the small boats nearly equal to that of the big stampede, it is looking like they may be the first to pull into Waikiki for the big aloha welcome.

Race websiteTrackerDaily video analysisFacebook

Transpac schedule:
Monday, July 13: First Transpac Start: Divisions 7 & 8; 22 entrants
Thursday, July 16: Second Transpac Start: Divisions 4, 5 & 6; 18 entrants
Friday, July 18: Third Transpac Start: Multihulls, Divisions 1, 2 & 3; 19 entrants
Friday, July 31: Honolulu Awards Ceremony – The Modern Hotel
Saturday, Aug 1st: Kaneohe YC Party and Plywood Cup Regatta

First organized by the Transpacific Yacht Club in 1906, the Transpacific Yacht Race or Transpac is an offshore sailing race from Point Fermin in Los Angeles to Diamond Head, just east of Honolulu, a distance of 2,225 nm. This is among the world’s great ocean races, and biennially attracts some of the world’s fastest sailing yachts, some of its most talented offshore racing sailors, and a wide variety of offshore sailing adventurers.

Transpacific YC also conducts occasional races to Papeete, Tahiti. Membership is open to all sailors who have completed a TPYC race to either of these destinations in paradise.

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