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 race 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 2,225-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 race 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.”
Consulting with Greg Stewart of Nelson/Marek Yacht Design and Brad Fitzgerald in San Diego, Andrews said his Mills-designed Summit 40 had some optimization work done to make it more competitive in ocean racing, even though its not a “Transpac boat” per se: 600 kg was removed in having a smaller bulb fitted, which reduced righting moment but lightened the boat considerably. The spinnaker pole was lengthened by nearly a meter to accommodate larger sails, but he sailed the race with seven and added a watermaker to make life aboard a little easier.
“I thought I might go with a different style boat that would be lower freeboard and lighter, said Andrews, “but [being tall] I wanted to have enough headroom to be comfortable down below, and this boat was the right fit of style, speed and size.”
Like Chris Hemans on Varuna, Andrews also has a 14-year old daughter interested in offshore sailing, so size and style criteria was adjusted for this interest as well.
Another corrected time winner coming in today was the first to finish entry in Division 3, John Shulze’s Santa Cruz 50 Horizon. With ratings between the boats in this “Fabulous Fifties” class being close, the results come into being close to the finish order, and the next finisher in this class is nearly 100 miles astern, Bill Helvestine’s SC 50 Deception.
In their morning blog the Deception team was determined not to give up:
If you're watching the tracker, we're a slow sperm wiggling it's way to that wonderful tropical egg in the Pacific. Strong swimmer, not so sure. It looks like Horizon is fighting hard to inseminate themselves into the Ala Wai and claim the prize. The rest of us are out here fighting a slow death not knowing the battle has already been won.
But the race isn't over until we cross the finish line. Even if we have to do it upside down or swim the documentation number across the line of the Diamond Head buoy.
Don't get me wrong, this is not even close to an email admitting defeat. We have the boat we really wanted to get and there are still 36 hours left in this race and the race is still tight. If we can make up a small handful of hours on our competitors we can still move up far into the standings. We haven't given up one bit. We're actively trimming and drivers swap out every half an hour to 45 minutes to keep focus in this lighter air and relentless sun.
And finally, as the recent arrivals have been refreshed and the reality of accomplishment seeps in after a good shower and some sleep, Chris Hemans from Varuna has dug out of the archives a claim to a trophy awarded to the fastest boat to finish the race under 50 feet. Hemans reckons not only does his Rogers 46 qualify to win this, but it also may have set a record for boats in this category.
Fellow Transpacific YC Board member Bill Lee says not so fast, the intent of this trophy may have been to recognize boats of this size, but of the cruiser/racer design style, and in fact it was out of this discussion over 10 years ago that TPYC introduced a new box rule to encourage the development of a new class of fast seaworthy offshore race boats: the TP52.
Overnight more boats are arriving to fill up Transpac Row at the Ala Wai Marina, and more arriving tomorrow, with the tail-enders mostly having moved into favorable wind bands along the rhumb line, and expected to be finishing by Monday.
Veteran Transpac race sailor Seahorse Magazine technical editor and offshore racing analyst Dobbs Davis is joined by Lee and noted international offshore project manager Ryan Breymaier on today’s race analysis show viewable on the Transpac race website. Today’s show can be found at: https://youtu.be/ix5jOoud-l0.
For this and more information - position reports, photos, videos and stories new and old, visit the event website at https://2017.transpacyc.com.
Stay tuned also to the Transpac race Facebook page for photos, videos and even stories coming in from the teams while at sea: www.facebook.com/TranspacRace/.