Honolulu, HI – With the arrival today of the final finishers in the 2225-mile LA-Honolulu Transpac, race organizers from the Transpacific YC may now declare the race concluded for its 48th edition.
Yasuto Fuda’s Feet 30 Fortissimo 11 may have taken over 17 days to finish the course, but the small Italian-built sportboat with a crew of four intrepid sailors from Japan persevered through some tough conditions to arrive today as the final finishers in the race.
First raced in 1906, this race is famous for its predominantly reaching and downwind sailing conditions. But this year’s Transpac was unusual in two key respects:
(1) Weather: like the last edition in 2013, the first of three waves of starters in Divisions 7 and 8 on Monday, July 13th had the best conditions to get off the coast fast. Harry Zanville’s Santa Cruz 37 Celerity was first boat across the finish line and for a while the first corrected overall by sailing fast and smart, with a track that resembled the classic Transpac S-curve across the rhumb line course, with some bias to the north.
James McDowell’s overall winner Grand Illusion and his close rivals in Division 3 were in the last starting group on Saturday, July 18th, with strange weather getting off the coast: a wet southerly breeze generated by an adjacent tropical storm system to the south actually gave them downwind sailing early in the race, but lots of unsettled weather that drove them north to find more consistent breeze. Their track was not a classic S-curve, but an arc-like path well north of the rhumb line.
The 100-foot Merlin and Barn Door Trophy winners Wild Oats IX and Rio 100, respectively, went even further north right off the start in search of consistent breeze – Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin 100 may have sailed the furthest north of any yacht in this race in recent memory in search of more breeze: above 37°N, the same latitude as Santa Cruz, California. Accordingly, the elapsed times of these boats were well-off the record paces some were expecting in an El Nino year.
And the starters in Divisions 4, 5 and 6 on Thursday July 16th had the worse luck in weather of all three start groups, with a difficult first few days getting away from the coast in light and fluky wind conditions. It was only three days into the race before the Saturday starters were overtaking them. And like the last wave of starters, Division 4 winner Greg Slyngstad on his J/125 Hamachi went well north in search of breeze on a track resembling that of the 100-footers. And Eric Gray’s Santa Cruz 50 Division 5 winner Allure won the class by only 3 minutes in corrected time, no doubt helped by a hard right turn across the course made early in the race by perennial winner Horizon owned by John Shulze.
(2) Trash: There is not one competitor in this race who does not have a trash and debris story. The number of floating objects ranging from wooden logs to fishing nets to Styrofoam is staggering…72 million kilograms is estimated to be floating in the North Pacific gyre.
Wild Oat’s Roy Pat Disney, a veteran of 20 Transpacs, described encountering “at least three bits of junk every minute - timber, fishing nets, plastic, poles that have broken away from commercial fishing nets. You name it, and it’s probably here.”
During the race, the crew of John Sangmeister/Dave Hood/Pete Hambrick’s SC 70 OEX developed an inventive way of tracking trash: “As we sail to Honolulu [we] are regularly hitting our Man Overboard Button at the helm station to plot a new piece of debris. Last night we received a warning broadcast from [the SC 50] Adrenaline of a large submerged object spotted in the vicinity. Later that evening, we were forced to back down after hooking some fishing net on our keel that couldn't be cut with the kelp cutter.”
Transpac 2015 has partnered with The Ocean Cleanup’s Mega Expedition, where numerous entries in the race will be participating in an ambitious plan to survey the North Pacific while en route back to the mainland California coast. The results of this survey will help the Ocean Cleanup calibrate its design for a method to deploy a floating apparatus to collect this trash and dispose of it from the marine ecosystem.
For more information on this program, visit www.theoceancleanup.com.
With all finishers now in the harbor, the focus can now shift to the celebrations and awards ceremony tomorrow night at the Modern Hotel in Waikiki. With help from Master of Ceremonies Chuck Hawley and to the visual entertainment talent of Jeremy Leonard, dozens of beautiful trophies will be awarded and displayed to celebrate not only the achievements of the winners, but also the rich heritage and traditions of this unique and classic offshore race.
Results are available at http://www.yachtscoring.com/event_results_detail.cfm?Race_Number=1&eID=1195, and for those that want to see the tracks of the entries on the course, this can be found at http://yb.tl/transpac2015.
Daily race analyses videos made by Seahorse Magazine USA editor Dobbs Davis are viewable to the YouTube link from the Transpac YC home page.
There will also be blogs sent from the boats posted on the TPYC home page, and lots of photos and stories available on the Transpac Facebook page. Photos from the starts, finishes and other official events from Sharon Green and her team at Ultimate Sailing are also regularly uploaded and displayed in the Media section of the Transpac website.