Honolulu, Hawaii – July 23, 2013 – Weakening trade winds have kept early finishers safe in their corrected time positions, as the last few boats come in to the finish at Diamond Head in the 2013 Transpac. The irregular wind conditions have made boat tracking on the Yellowbrick system an imperfect measure of ETA’s and thus hard on the Aloha party planners ashore, but once ashore the hospitality offered has been gratefully well-received.
For teams that have finished, today has been a work day for when teams that are ashore clean up, dry out, and ready their boats for shipment back to the mainland, or for deliveries on their own bottoms. After over a week at sea, everything - sails, spars, equipment, cushions, in fact the whole interior of the boats – gets a thorough rinsing with fresh water. The light air and hot temperatures that are uncomfortable for the remaining finishers have been a blessing for this process to allow everyone to dry out.
This is also a time to trade stories and reflect on the race. Veterans put it in a long-range historic view (“…its not as bad as that race in ’79…”), while others have done the race for the first time and compare it to what they know.
White Knight crew ready to party after a slow finishWally Cross is in this latter group, and as a Detroit-based sailmaker with clients around the Great Lakes region he’s been familiar and successful in multiple editions of the 300-mile races to Mackinac island, from both Chicago and Port Huron. He sailed this this race with Bob Pethick’s Bretwalda 3 team, and finished as runner’s up to Criminal Mischief by a little less than 4 minutes in corrected time.
“This is a LONG race!” said Cross. “Maybe too long for me, because I’m used to doing the Mac races which are more of a sprint by comparison. And life on board with 7 guys for that long a pretty tough. But it’s a really interesting race, and you work really hard, and the weather and navigational strategy is a fascinating element.”
Another newcomer to the race from Detroit was Bora Gulari, sailing on Phil O’Neil’s TP 52 Natalie J. Gulari was a Rolex Yachtsman of the Year award winner for his prowess in the experimental Moth class, and is extremely active on sport boat classes like the Melges 24’s. Offshore racing is a new interest for him.
“I think this race was fantastic!” said Gulari. “Yes, we developed the crack in the bow sprit on the second day of the race and that made us throttle back to keep it from breaking. But the fun and speed of the TP 52 is absolutely great, because the harder you push, the more you get out of the boat. I can’t wait to do another one.”
Like many of the race boats here, Bretwalda 3 will go back to the West Coast and participate in the next big Pacific event, the Rolex Big Boat Series in San Francisco.
Besides Gib Black's Santa Cruz 50 Casch Mer making their final approach to the finish, just two boats remain on the course: Alex Farrel’s 1D35Rapid Transit finishes before the wind dies Alpha Puppy just inside 200 miles out and John Higham’s sistership Kahuna, who is 85 miles further.
One boat on the tracker bringing up the rear – Hiroyuki Funaoku and Janet Nicholson’s Jeanneau 43 Aquarius – is 300 miles out but has retired from the race.
Yellowbrick trackers are reporting positions, speeds and headings on 6 hour delays for the rest of the fleet, which then revert to being available live as they approach within 100 miles of the finish. Online spectators can follow the racer’s progress using this system: click here to view.
A daily video analysis on the progress of the race will be provided by race veteran and Seahorse Magazine USA editor Dobbs Davis, with guests on his show such as former Transpac winner and legendary Sled designer/builder Bill Lee and another influential designer Alan Andrews. Online access to the shows are also on the race website.
Top photo by Leslie DeMeuse Disney Rapid Transit finishing by Betsy Crowfoot / ultimatesailing.com