Chasing sunsets in Transpac 2021

Published on July 18th, 2021

(July 18, 2021) – The three starting groups are making tracks along the 2225 nm 2021 Transpac Race course, with the wind clocking to the north east for the leaders, the reward for enduring the early days of tight reaching on the heel, but both ends of the fleet are still searching for sun.

With staggered starts from July 13 to 17, it tightens the finishing window in Honolulu but leaves open the debate of fairness for the overall title. A look at the tracker shows the earliest starters struggled for pace beyond Catalina Island whereas the second and third waves had greater success managing the situation. Once the exit from California is complete, everyone more or less gets dealt the same hand of cards.

Peter Isler, navigator on Roy Disney’s modified Volvo 70 Pyewacket 70, provides this report:
This boat is amazing, in a race where we started out beating for the first four hours, and the next 24 hours we’ve been jib reaching in an average wind speed of 13.2 knots, mild by Transpac standards, and still we did 330nm in the first 24 hours.

Our best 24 hour run (thanks to Nick White of Expedition Navigation and Sailing software for adding a cool app that easily does this calculation) so far (27 hours into the race) is 356 nm (14.84 knots point to point average). That number is only bound to grow – since we are currently doing 18 knots of boatspeed in 14 knots of wind. I’m kicking myself for not making a note of the Tranpac Race’s 24 hour record, which I think was set by Commanche.

Sadly, their race racord is not at risk – but this still looks like a fast race for us – thanks to the northwesterly position of the Pacific and producing wind angles that will hopefully keep letting us sail a shorter than normal distance across the North Pacific.

Roy Disney got this turbo charged Volvo 70, former round the world racer to do this very passage… LA to Hawaii and continue the family tradition that started a long time ago. I’m pretty sure he told me that this is his 25th Transpac, the first one with his dad on the family’s wooden yawl. I’d confirm this before sending – but he’s off watch and in windward side bunk.

One day into the race – everyone, even the veteran round the world sailors on the crew, are still getting into the flow of the 4 hours on/ 4 hours off lifestyle and trying to sleep on a boat that, even in these conditions, moves around like an out of control subway car, and is incredibly noisy down below. It amazes me anyone can sleep.

When the mainsheet is eased, this carbon hull turns into a speaker box that just accentuates the loud jarring sound. For sure we are above EPA sound limits without even talking about the fact that a powerful diesel engine (think tractor) is running 24/7 and spools up every time the crew on deck use the hydraulically powered winches to do, well, to do anything sailing related, from hoisting to trimming etc.

Right now I’m sitting at the nav table with full sound proof headphones connected by bluetooth to the helm area so I can chat with the guys without having to spend five minutes putting on my foul weather gear.

I learned how wet these boats are in the Cabo Race when there was a constant inch or so of water flowing from bow to stern over the deck and cockpit in 20+ knots of wind VMG running… so I’m thankful for this intercom system.

Still, its important for the navigator to go on deck, to look at the weather system, make sure everyone is on the same page with respect to the short term strategy and, of course, in the hopes of being asked to take a turn on the helm.

When I went up on deck at dawn this morning, I was reminded of another role that a navigator needs to do from time to time, help out on the bow in some sail changes. I went up to assist our bowman Robbie Kane drop, bag, and stack a staysail and got full firehose of cold North Pacific water for a few minutes. That will wake you up and also get every inch of your gear wet, hopefully just on the outside, but I swear I felt a few drops coming into the boots.

Anyways, spirits are high on Pyewacket – we are leading our fleet boat for boat – as we should. Everyone in our class is pretty much following in our footsteps – not a lot of tactical moves being cashed in on yet, though there are a few boats that are in a higher/more northerly lane than ours, and that looks interesting, as they may have more breeze.

But we are already 30 miles clear of our closest rival – so we have to pretty much just sail our race, and look forward to coming into Diamond Head on this amazing boat, with a great crew representing the long tradition of Disney family commitment and excellence in this historic race.
While the fleet races west toward the setting sun, they hope to soon see it too. With Mother Nature in charge of the overall title, here are the eight division leaders:
1. Lucky – Judel-Vrolijk 72
2. Artemis – Botin 65
3. Callisto – Pac52
4. Grand Illusion – Santa Cruz 70
5. Bretwalda3 – Rogers 46
6. Horizon – Santa Cruz 50
7. Favonius – Dehler 46
8. Ho’okolohe – Farr 57

Event informationRace detailsEntry listTrackerJuly 18 Roll Call

Forty-one teams started 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.

2021 Schedule
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

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