When School Goes Offshore

Published on July 16th, 2019

Wayne Zittel is the owner, president, janitor, and who knows what else at J/World which seeks to teach sailing and promote the fun. But rather than just delivering class curriculum from his locations in San Francisco Bay, San Diego, and Puerto Vallarta, he goes offshore too.

Here’s his report from the 50th running of the Transpac Race from California to Hawaii, somewhere along the 2225 nm course between Pt. Fermin and Diamond Head.


Our Team Westerly (Santa Cruz 52) is one of three boats we have fielded alongside stable mates Hula Girl (Santa Cruz 50) and Cazan (DK46). All three are setup the same with three J/World coaches providing support for sailors from all over the world who have dreamed of being part of this event… some racing to Hawaii for the first time, others are, shall we say ‘repeat offenders.’

Our start on July 12 turned out to be quite nice. I was a bit worried it would be pretty light, but we had enough breeze to get us away from the coastline and into the offshore winds. We passed Catalina Island to port (the only mark of the course!) and beat into a building breeze.

The first few days is the stretch where teams pay their dues. It can be lumpy, cold, and wet while tight reaching. Gear gets tested too, and it is not uncommon to see some boats head home… sorry to hear that was the case this year.

Team Westerly really pulled together, did a great job, and soon enough we were into the Code 0, then out came the spinnakers, first the 1A when it was a bit reachy, and now the 2A, trucking along nicely and drying out from the early days!

Our fleet for this Transpac is highly competitive with 11 Santa Cruz 50/52s, many of which have sailed together for years. I’ve done a lot of these races and it’s pretty common that you don’t see any of your fleet for days and days on end, but we have almost continually been within sight of at least one of our competitors. This is some good close racing, and a good motivator to keep working hard. Every little bit matters.

On board everyone is in great spirits. We got our first little samples of Pacific surfing today. The swell isn’t too big right now, but a steady diet of 18-22 knots made for fun driving. Current top speed is 20.2… that was coach Randall showing how it is done!

It’s coming up on midnight (July 15-16) out here and we were treated to a spectacular early evening moon-rise, and now with the lunar disc high in the sky, the night is illuminated in that particular light. An appealing seascape, worthy of a fine painting, but the shimmering, dancing moonlight on the small waves we fly past betray our speed and movement. Better material for a movie, maybe, and let the masters keep their still-lifes!

The boat is grunting and groaning, and my berth is directly below the primary winch which is currently handling the working spinnaker sheet. Sigh. You think I would know better. But it’s not like there is anywhere quiet on the boat, and when slumber takes over a tired sailor, there isn’t a groan, growl, roar that will keep him or her awake.

Ok, looks like a watch change coming up here so I am going to wrap this up and go sit in the cockpit for a bit. And maybe see if Simon’s tea bag is still stuck to the boom. He says it’s not his, but c’mon. The English and their tea, sheesh.

Event DetailsEntry listTrackerFacebook

Note: There is a 4-hour delay on the tracker but goes live within the final 200 miles.

Attrition list:
• Mayhem, Hobie 33, Steven Eder
• Aloha, Hobie 33, Kyle Vanderspek
• Nalu V, Cal 40, Mark Ashmore
• Trouble, Santa Cruz 50, Tom Camp,
• Live Wire, Olson 40, Tim Jones
• OEX, Santa Cruz 70, John Sangmeister
• Pyewacket, Andrews 70, Roy Disney
• Macondo, Beneteau First 47.7, Mike Sudo

Background: First organized by the Transpacific Yacht Club in 1906, the biennial 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 2225 nm. The 2019 edition has 12 divisions with staggered starts on July 10, 12, and 13.

Boats racing in Divisions 6, 7, 8, 9, the Cal 40s, and the Multihulls in Class 0A will start on July 10. The second start on July 12 will be for the boats in Divisions 3, 5 and the Santa Cruz 50/52s, with the final start on July 13 for the remaining monohull entries in Divisions 1 and 2, along with the Multihull class 0 entries.

Source: TPYC

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