Preparing for the 52nd Transpac Race

Published on January 2nd, 2023

The New Year makes preparation for the biennial Transpac Race a bit more real as teams prepare in 2023 for the 52nd edition of this classic 2225 nm course from California to Hawaii.


Among the hotbed of competition is the Santa Cruz 50/52 fleet, a rarity of near one design rivalries on an offshore course. Among the boats getting scrutinized is Chris Messano’s Santa Cruz 50 Deception.

Despite being the last SC 50 built, this was in 1987 with its peers having been steadily upgraded to raise the bar in performance.

The renovations include a new stern scoop, a new rudder, gutted and refurbished (and minimalist) interior, new flush portlights and hatches, removal of deck tracks in favor of cleaner and lighter floating clew ring system, and pedestal winches.

Additionally, after getting a good test in the 800 nm race from Newport Beach, CA to Cabo San Lucas. MEX, Deception gets fitted with a new modern T-bulb keel for even less drag, more stability, and better offwind speed.

“I love to refurbish classic cars, and this has been a similar passion for me,” said Messano. “We wanted to do this right: take our time, use the right materials, and have not just a better-looking boat but one that performs closer to modern standards of performance.”

Tom Holthus is back for 2023 with his Botin 56 BadPak, which he’d bought just prior to the 2021 race. After a scramble to prepare, Holthus was the Division 1 winner, which matched his 2019 success on the Pac52 BadPak. Two years now with the boat, their preparation will be more internal.

“We’ll not be making any major changes to the boat and sails in this cycle, but will focus on building our strengths in knowing the boat and each other well. With the Cabo Race, the Islands Race, and the SoCal 300 to train on, we’ll be ready to go in July.”

To balance the finishing times, the 2023 race will have three staggered starts on June 27, 29, and July 1, with all boats vying for the overall King Kalakaua Trophy, awarded to the team finishing first overall on corrected time. Holthus likes his chance but also recognizes how the start dates have an impact.

“Winning involves favorable weather, something we cannot control beyond those other teams starting on the same day.”

The race is open for monohull yachts from 30 to 100 feet in length and multihulls of at least 45 feet.

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