Riding first wave for 51st Transpac Race
Published on July 13th, 2021
San Pedro, CA (July 13, 2021) – The Transpacific Yacht Club today unleashed the first of three waves of entries on their long westward journey to Honolulu in the 51st running of the Transpac. This biennial 2225-mile race from LA-Honolulu, first run in 1906, is an ocean racing classic.
Seven entries ranging from 37 to 57 feet in length were on the start line today, set one mile south of San Pedro’s Point Fermin lighthouse. Weather conditions early this morning were uncertain, with local thunderstorms in the area, but this stabilized by midday to provide an 11-knot thermal westerly breeze.
Even in this initial upwind leg towards the first of only two marks of the course – the West End of Catalina, 25 miles away – the fleet seemed to split with some opting to head north and others choosing to take the closer tack towards Catalina.
As explained at the virtual Skipper’s Briefing on July 10 by veteran NOAA weather forecaster Joe Sienkiewicz, the large scale position and shape of the North Pacific High seems to be setting up favorably for a good race.
The split High is due to merge and strengthen the classic northeast tradewinds that are a typical feature of the middle portion of the race track, while the normal coastal northerlies also seem to be in place to propel all the teams away from the coast quickly.
Mark Ashmore’s Cal 40 Nalu V was among the first starters today, and is riding a wave of enthusiasm coming off their overall win in the SoCal 300. He’s upbeat about the race, his first to Hawaii, especially considering what happened in the previous 50th edition of the race in 2019.
“We had a mysterious leak, or several leaks, that we were never able to pinpoint the source,” he said. “It was serious enough to have us pumping out the bilge four times a day. The conditions were rough, and we launched off a few waves, so it was difficult to track the source. At one point I was able to get my head into the bilge to see some water seeping in.”
At about 200 miles out, the Nalu team decided it was better to head back to the coast than face this situation further out and with fewer option. There were among several entries to that year that had to drop out due to various problems.
This year Ashmore and his team of four are determined to finish what they started two years ago, cross the finish at Diamond Head, and have tons of fun on the way. “We may be one of the slowest boats on the course, but that means we just have more time to enjoy the race!” he said.
The Nalu V team is also sailing for a cause: a good friend and shipmate on the 2019 race, Mark Buttermann, had recently passed from ALS, and the team has dedicated their effort this year to his memory. They have set up a donation fund to fight ALS and within a few weeks have raised an impressive $14,000.
Today’s starters are the first of three waves, with the second group of 15 teams in three divisions starting at 1:00 PM PDT on July 16 at Point Fermin, while the final group of the fastest 19 boats in four divisions will start at the same time and place on July 17.
YB trackers are on board all entries but positions have been delayed by 4 hours, except when within 200 miles of the finish, where they revert to real-time tracking.
Forty-one teams are competing in the 51st Transpac Race which takes the fleet on a 2225 nm course from Point Fermin in Los Angeles to the finish line off Diamond Head in Honolulu, Hawaii.
July 13 start – Division 8
July 16 start – Division 5, 6, 7
July 17 start – Division 1, 2, 3, 4
July 30 – Honolulu Awards Ceremony