Sunday, July 2, 2017

Transpac Race Preview

Transpac Start (Los Angeles, CA)- For most experienced offshore racers, the granddaddy of all long-distance races has to be the famous 2,225nm Transpac Race hosted by the Transpac YC.  The track is the stuff of legends and one that top navigators, like the famous Stan Honey from San Francisco, CA, have considered one of the great offshore racing challenges.

On paper, it all seems simple enough, start off Los Angeles, leave Catalina Island to port, and then just sail straight to the finish line off Diamond Head at Honolulu, Hawaii. However, while the course appears easy (which it is), the navigational challenge is anything but a “walk in the park”.  Something called the “Pacific High” often drives navigators to drink as it wobbles around and exasperates even veteran navigators of the race.  A “wobble here and a jiggle there” and all hell can break loose with the best laid strategies for navigating around the Pacific High’s influence on the north to northeast tradewinds in the Pacific.  As the boats get offshore, reaching white sails are replaced by spinnakers sometime around day 2 or 3 in the race.  Then, in theory, its a “surfin’ safari” and “hangin’ ten” each day as you fly down the waves to Paradise!  NOT! Rarely ever happens that way, but the stories in the Lahaina YC’s bar afterwards might approach that fantasy after a few Mai Tais!

Diamond Head Light, Hawaii finish lineIn the past few races of various types to Hawaii, J/teams have done quite well.  In fact, J/105s, J/125s, J/100s, and J/88s have all won their classes in one or more of these events- the Vic-Maui, Transpac, Single/Double Transpac & Pacific Cup.  For this year’s Transpac, we find just three J/teams entered.  For starters, Ed Sanford’s J/105 CREATIVE from San Diego YC includes an experienced crew of offshore racers and Ed has spent considerable time training with them off Southern California.  Similarly, there are two of the famous J/125’s that are entered; Frank Atkinson’s RAISIN’ CANE from West Palm Beach, FL and Tim Fuller’s RESOLUTE from San Diego YC.  In both cases, these teams have spent a lot of time offshore, so they know what it takes to have strong navigation and adaptable strategies down the track as well as crews that can keep the J/125s cooking along at more than 80-90% of target speeds 24 hours a day.  Follow these teams each day and give them your support- Yellow Brick’s YBTracking is providing the hourly updates.  For more Transpac Race sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.