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HONOLULU, HI – The 2225-mile LA-Honolulu Transpac Race, first run in 1906, is known worldwide and makes many bucket lists, including that of Afanasy Isaev from Krasnoyarsk, Russia. This historic city of 1 million is the third-largest in Siberia, yet a long way from any tidal water.

As such, how did a team of 15 crew on the 1996 Grand Mistral 80 Weddel get to this race and then take nearly 11 days to complete the trip? Well, it's a long story full of twists and turns, but a big part of this team making it here to Honolulu with an elapsed time of nearly 11 days is due to Isaev’s co-skipper, Vladimir (Kuli) Kulinichinko.

Many on the US East Coast big boat racing scene know Kuli, he’s been active in East Coast pro sailing since arriving over 20 years ago after having completed the Whitbread Round the World Race on Fazisi, the all-red Russian-designed and Russian-built aluminum boat that had heads scratching in the 1989-90 edition of the race when the other IOR maxis were much larger, heavier and ultimately faster around the planet. This unusually narrow light weight design had half the freeboard of their rivals, and looked like it would be – and proved it was - wet, wet, wet.

Yet on a budget that was a fraction of their rivals, this team made it around the planet more or less intact as an underdog favorite with a cult following, and when it did, Kuli jumped off and spent time as a sailmaker in Connecticut, got married to an American, and has been based in Florida ever since. Whenever there is a Russian-based team racing in the US, its likely Kuli will be involved as an important source of skill and a bridge between the two cultures. This was especially needed on this trip, since Isaev runs the Weddel program with paying guests, similar to some other amateur-based offshore racing programs.

“This was a tough trip, but we’re all here,” said Kuli. “We had a core group of us who knew the boat but not quite enough to sail her at 100% all the time. The mainsail broke about halfway across, and that’s what slowed us down. The sail broke clear across the girth, luff to leech.”

Kuli had to revive his skills as a sailmaker and said he spent 36 hours with the sail down repairing it to be useable enough to get them to Hawaii. Progress was slow, with the boat progressing at a glacially slow rate of 6-8 knots at times, but once fixed the team nursed the sail almost to the finish, and then it broke again, and the team finished under just a jib alone.

“We need to get this sail fixed again to the good enough to get to Australia,” said Kuli, where the team is planning to race in the Sydney-Hobart Race in December, as are several more entries from Transpac. Its likely Kuli will be needed here as well, since Isaev will likely be taking pay-as-you-go crew once again.

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Winners and non-winners alike given warm Hawaiian welcomes upon arrival, any time of day or night

HONOLULU, HI – A large wave of finishers in the 2017 Transpac have arrived in the Ala Wai last night and in the pre-dawn hours to start to fill up the slip spaces set aside in the Marina for the finishers, known as Transpac Row. From tallest mast to shortest, most of the race entries are moored here, bedecked with leis and ti leaves as symbols of Aloha hospitality from a culture that recognizes the special nature of having completed a long sea voyage.

After crossing the finish line, all boats are escorted to the narrow (sometimes treacherous) entrance to the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor, a safe haven from the Pacific swells. Donned in their flowered shirts, the crews stand on deck to be greeted like conquering heroes by the amplified sounds of native drums, slack key guitar music and a loud and resounding “Aaaahhh- looohhh – haaaaah” given by staff commodore Howie Mednick from the second deck of the Hawaii YC.

“We welcome you to Hawaii, and ask only that you do Drink well, Sing well, Eat well, Sleep well… and Drink well some more!”

Boats then proceed to their assigned slips, get boarded and inspected for rules compliance, and then are released to the awaiting leis and hugs of family, friends and well-wishers. Regardless of the time of day or night, every crew is given an Aloha Party of food and drink, some more traditionally Hawaiian than others, with the unshaven and weary crews growing their smiles with each re-told story and re-acquaintance with terra firma.

This is a unique feature of Transpac among the world’s ocean races: nowhere else will you find this intimate and embracing level of hospitality and respect. Finishers of the Volvo Ocean Race and Vendee Globe will experience their re-entry into life ashore under the glare of TV lights, crowds and microphones, whereas at Transpac it will be under the flickering flames of a tiki torch and the inner glow from a Mai Tai.

The lore of this hospitality reaches far and wide, as evidenced by not only entries who come every two years from around the Pacific Basin, but also those who come from the other side of the world. This year two entries from Europe were here to have the Aloha experience.

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Light air patch plaguing the middle and back of the fleet are sealing off the remaining corrected time titles

HONOLULU, HI – In a race that has featured more elapsed time records set than any in recent memory, its ironic that in the 2017 Transpac the bulk of the fleet has still to finish due to some light-air conditions in the middle of the course. At Noon local time today, only 22 of the 55 boats entered in this year’s race have finished, although several are due into the finish in the next several hours.

This is in contrast to the last two cycles of this biennial 2225-mile ocean race where the early starters had more favorable conditions and it was the later faster boats that struggled in light air.

As such, the faster-rated boats in each Division are faring well in corrected time by being positioned ahead of a large area of lighter winds that has been affecting the last half of the fleet. Today Larry Andrews’s Summit 40 Locomotive finished in the morning to be the first to cross the line in his Division 5, and his lead in corrected time is virtually unbeatable based on the current positions and speeds of his rivals on the course: he owes time to only one boat in his class (John Sandrolini’s Beneteau 47.7 La Sirena), but they are 171 mi away and cannot get to the finish line fast enough to overcome the time allowance.

Yet Larry was not really focused on this in the morning at his Aloha Party at Hawaii YC, where he and his crew were enjoying the hospitality of his hosts and grateful to be on terra firma once again.

“I lived here in Hawaii for a while many years ago, and saw boats coming in from the Transpac and vowed I would do this myself someday,” he said. “Its many years later, but I’m really happy to be here now and fulfill that dream. In my business life I put good people in charge and let them run things the way they know how, and I have been lucky to do the same with this project – we have a great team.”

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Joel Buffa, crew member aboard Rapid Transit in the 2017 Transpac Race will become the first ever 5th-generation sailor to compete in the history of the Transpac Race. Joel shares his family's Transpac racing history and looks forward to joining the Comyns/Buffa family tradition.

"It has been my life long dream to compete in this race and it has special historical meaning to my family. I am very fortunate that I will now be crossing the same ocean as my great-great grandfather, great-grandfather, grandfather, and mother have all crossed before me."

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June 29, 2017

VIP Mixer and Presentation by Farmers & Merchants Bank
Gladstone's Long Beach
1800 - 2100

June 30, 2017

First Start Kick-Off Party
Shoreline Yacht Club
1700 - 2300

July 1, 2017

Aloha Sendoff Party
Bandshell next to Gladstone’s Restaurant
1800 - 2200

July 2, 2017

Porsche Palooza and Yacht Review
Gladstone's Long Beach
1100 - 1600

July 3, 2017

First Transpac 2017 Start
Pt Fermin
1255 Warning

July 5, 2017

Second Transpac 2017 Start
Pt Fermin
1255 Warning

July 6, 2017

Third Transpac 2017 Start
Pt Fermin
1255 Warning

July 6, 2017

Multi Hull Transpac 2017 Start
Pt Fermin
1325 Warning

July 16, 2017

Pau Maui Happy Hour
Hawaii YC
1600 - 1900

July 19, 2017

Goslings Party
Hawaii YC
1700 - Close

July 20, 2017

Waikiki YC Party (Purchase tickets in advance)
Waikiki YC
1700

July 21, 2017

Navigator's Debrief
Waikiki YC
0930

July 21, 2017

Honolulu Awards Ceremony
The Modern Honolulu
1630 - 1930

July 22, 2017

Kaneohe YC Party
Kaneohe YC

July 2019

1st Start of 50th Transpac Yacht Race