For the 49th edition of the Transpacific YC’s biennial 2225-mile race from LA to Honolulu, “normal” weather conditions returned to the North Pacific course area after the previous two races having been affected by unusual patterns associated with El Nino. The compression of the three start dates into four days rather than six was also meant to minimize the impact of the fleet possibly racing in different conditions and thus introducing a possible bias on overall corrected time trophies such as the King Kalakaua Trophy.
Unlike the previous two races, this year’s race had all classes starting in the typical Transpac wind pattern: a westerly sea breeze to the West End of Catalina, followed by increasing breezes offshore and staying more or less at 15-20 knots the entire race. The fastest boats generally sailed in more breeze in proportion to the others since the breeze dropped slightly on the course after the first finishers in Divisions 1 and 3, hence their top finishes in the overall results.
With this greeting and a resounding reply from an audience bedecked in their Aloha crew shirt attire, Transpac YC Commodore Bo Wheeler kicked off the 49th biennial Transpac Awards Ceremony held last night at the Modern Hotel Honolulu. The atmosphere was jubilant and celebratory, with a stage full of the most impressive display of perpetual trophies seen in any yachting event, accumulated by TPYC since the first race ran in 1906.
The tables full of gleaming silver and sculptures made of polished Koa wood is unlike any other seen in the sport, fitting symbols of achievement in one of the world’s longest, oldest and greatest ocean races.
Master of Ceremonies Chuck Hawley entertained the crowd with anecdotes and stories from each division, as well as the race as a whole.
“The last time I did this race, the Sleds were the fastest boats, and now they are being out run on this course,” said Hawley, referring to the new generation Pac 52’s, as well as Super Maxi’s like Comanche and Rio. “Regardless, unlike the last two years, this race was fun and it was fast. However there was one feature that everyone encountered whether slow or fast, and that’s the debris field. Nearly everyone has a story to tell, some with serious breakage, like Rio, and others just annoyances like back-downs. This is becoming a real problem.”
In fact, the dramatic story of Rio’s port rudder breaking was re-told at the end of the ceremony by Keith Kilpatrick, boat captain on Rio and last year’s winner of the Don Vaughn Award for the most valuable crewman on the first-to-finish monohull Barn Door Trophy winner. Kilpatrick said he was honored to bestow the award this year to his crew mate and friend Jeff Massano, who dove into the cramped aft compartment of Rio when she was taking on water from a broken port rudder shaft and rudder bearing to remove the broken pieces and stuff the hole with a sleeping bag to stop the leak until a more suitable repair could be made to get the boat back underway and racing.
“I told Jeff I wanted to go back and make the repair,” said Kilpatrick, “and he said he could get it done faster because he was 6 inches shorter and 15 years younger. I said OK.”