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Tropic Thunder Approaching the Finish

July 17, 1730

This will be the last entry by me of this adventure until we are on Oahu.

July 16: More of the same-nice breeze, nice ocean swells, beautiful starry night, vibrant Milky Way, shooting stars.

The mechanical water maker was pulled out of the ditch bag. We got 2.5 gallons of fresh water with two hours of manual pumping. That was used for cooking and coffee making, leaving the emergency water for drinking.

July 17: We broke the 100 NM mark at 1:30 a.m. Pacific time. We broke the 50 NM mark at 9:50 a.m. We had our first glimpse of Hawaii today at 10:15. It likely would have been earlier but for all the clouds on the horizon.

We had a pretty nice knock down a bit later in the morning. Vang blown. Traveler down. Spin sheet eased. Main sheet out. The clew shackle gave way again during the douse, eliminating the letter box option. Tack on, halyard dropped for a controlled takedown on the bow. We stood back up and unfurled the genoa, trimmed in the main sail and got back to racing.

We can almost taste the Mai Tai's.

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Another Wave of Finishers Enjoy Aloha Hospitality in 2017 Transpac

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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Division Leaders Locomotive and Horizon Finish Today in Transpac 2017

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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Onde Amo Daily Reports

Onde Amo Day 13

July 15, 2017, 1200

Good morning to all our loyal readers!  

We are about 200 miles from the finish, at least as the crow (or more appropriately seagull) flies. We will have to sail a bit further than that, but are making good time and looking for a finish before noon tomorrow HST.

Overnight, we had good winds and made good time and recovered some of the lost distance on our competitors, but it does seem that we will run out of race course before we can catch them.

Yesterday, we were treated to a visit from the Flying Corzini. First, he checked out our main sail for wear, then checked out the lower spreaders for stability, and finally, went to the top of the mast for an inspection of all of the gear there. He also got some great video of the boat sailing from that view. After that, he was back to Sarasota Florida, where all circus acts go to retire!

Yesterday was a long day of mediocre winds, fair, but not great boat speed and hot clear skies. Many of the crew fought the boredom by finding boat tasks to do. Dan chose yesterday to tape cords all over the nav station to make the communications equipment we have been using for the past 12 days more efficient (about damn time)!  As we have been keeping a keen eye on our electrical consumption, Dean decided to determine the electrical draw on most of the components on the boat. This was done by switching each one off and then back on and recording the difference. This process was going well, until he switched our navigation system off and when it came back on, the electronic compass that the system (and especially the autopilot) uses for boat heading, did not come back on. This discovery was followed by a tap on my shoulder while I was napping and having a weird dream, and "Houston I think we have a problem". Good news is that the next few hours occupied two or three of us finding and trying to diagnose the problem. It appears that the compass chose the exact moment that Dean switched it off to die - what timing? Oh well, we have a work around until we get to Honolulu. All of this speaks to turning the lights off in a room when you leave it - just say’n!  

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Joel Buffa becomes his family’s 5th generation Transpac sailor

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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Merlin Makes Hawaii Homecoming in 2017 Transpac

It was 40 years ago Merlin changed the course of Transpac – and ocean racing – forever… now she’s back, faster than ever

HONOLULU, HI – Today a Transpac legend crossed the finish line at Diamond Head 40 years after she did it the first time: Bill and Lu Lee’s venerable Lee 68 Merlin. Her elapsed time of 8 days 02:34:09 did not set any records this year, but this was still better than the elapsed time of 8 days 11:01:45 that she set in her original configuration when Lee and his team raced her in a very windy 1977 Transpac, a testament to the upgrades made to the boat over her long and storied life.

“Lu and I are the eighth owners of this boat for the second time,” said Lee, who navigated this race to be second (currently) in corrected time behind another legendary finisher today, Roy Pat Disney’s Andrews 68 Pyewacket. Disney’s newer boat rates slower than Merlin, so being only 2 hours behind but allowed several more hours gave her the corrected time edge. Nonetheless, Lee said they had a fantastic race on Merlin.

“We had no major failures or breakdowns, and this boat has had 7 keel changes, 4 mast changes, deck layout changes and countless sails through its life. Right now it is set up nicely. She sails better, easier and faster than the original boat, so much so its really a different boat and a pleasure to sail.”

It was this boat that in 1977 turned offshore yacht design in an entirely new direction when Lee’s design concept was to keep the boat long, narrow, and intentionally light weight to sail efficiently in the offwind races of the US West Coast, yet to also be at the prevailing IOR Rating of 70.0 feet, which was the defined Maxi rating limit of those days. Other conventional IOR Maxis were often referred to as “lead mines” because of the large keels they needed to keep their stability for their massive sails and 80-foot lengths. The conventional Maxi’s of this era were designed to perform well relative to their rating in all conditions, whereas Merlin excelled in one direction alone: downwind.

It was this design feature that then prompted a new generation of ULDB (Ultra Light Displacement Boat) designs to not necessarily rate well and win on corrected time, but to be first to finish. When Merlin set a new race record in 1977, she not only beat it, she smashed it by defeating Windward Passage’s record time set in 1971 by over 22 hours. So remarkable was this boat that this record stood for 20 years before beaten by Pyewacket in 1997.

And here she was again: finishing at Diamond Head under sunny skies and tradewinds with the same rainbow color scheme on her spinnaker that she had in 1997. Lee even donned his Wizard cape at his team’s Aloha party at Hawaii YC, just to complete the nostalgia.

Asked about his vision of the future of this race, Lee said “I think it will continue to do what it does now: it attracts the really fast boats with all-pro crews who will continue to hunt for records on big 49-ers, and the amateur teams who are sailing boats they can handle comfortably. There’s a lot for both in this race.”

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Mighty Merloe’s Route to the Transpac Record

HL Enloe and the crew of the ORMA 60 trimaran Mighty Merloe crossed the finish line on July 10 of the 49th Transpac Race, beating all entrants and eclipsing the 20 year old multihull record of Bruno Peyron’s Commodore Explorer by more than a day, previously set at 5 days 9 hours 18 min and 26 secs.

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