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2015 Honolulu

Paths to Success in the 48th Transpac

Honolulu, HI – As the three remaining boats traverse the remaining 200 miles towards the finish line to come in sometime pre-dawn tonight, all nine division winners have been determined for the 48th edition of the 2225-mile biennial LA-Honolulu Transpac.

These include the following: Division 1: Roy P. Disney and Robert Oately’s R/P 100 Wild Oats; Division 2: Craig Reynolds’s TP 52 Bolt; Division 3: James MacDowell’s Santa Cruz 70 Grand Illusion; Division 4: Greg Slyngstad’s J/125 Hamachi; Division 5: Eric Gray’s Santa Cruz 50 Allure (who won by a mere 2 min 52 sec after nearly 7 days of racing!); Division 6: John Chamberlain and Dean Fargo’s Swan 651 Second Wind; Division 7: Harry Zanville’s Santa Cruz 37 Celerity; Division 8: Tracy Obert’s BBY Custom 59-foot ketch Marjorie; and Lloyd Thornburg’s Gunboat 66 Phaedo in the multihull Division 0.

Grand Illusion has now equaled the record for most overall wins, joining the 88-foot Lurline which won the first two races in 1906 and 1908, and again in 1912. However, Grand Illusion holds the status alone for winning overall three times under the same Owner/Skipper.

What was the pathway to success in this race, given the unusual weather patterns this year? The answers are somewhat varied for each division winner, but in general a northerly route without straying too far kept the right balance between sailing excess distance versus sailing faster by being in stronger winds.

“We worked really really hard in this race to keep moving fast,” said McDowell, who is based here in Hawaii after having been raised in Southern California where he raced Grand Illusion with his father Ed since the late 1980’s – launched in 1986, this is one of the oldest of the ULDB Sleds still racing, a Bill Lee-designed and built Santa Cruz 70. “Our crew has been together for many years, we know the boat really well, so we could always get the most out of the boat in this race.”

“The relationship between Patrick and Will Paxton was really key for us,” said McDowell. “They’ve been working together for years, and were always checking with each other on optimizing our performance with the right sail combinations throughout the race, always monitoring how we were doing. This was really important because we were always tight with the other Sleds in our class.”

McDowell says a key moment came when they were able to gybe to the inside of rival Andrews 70 Pyewacket, chartered for this race by Chuck Nichols.

“The weather forecasts were almost worthless to us in the beginning of the race, since we went south at first, then watched Pyewacket and [Chris Slagerman’s SC 70] Maverick go north towards San Nicholas Island and kill us. So we went north too to get into that pressure and start moving. We managed to catch up, gybe inside them, and one morning were really excited to see them close by, so the race was on.

“Another element was in using our full inventory of sails, including a Code 0 which helped us in key situations.”

For the overall win the Grand Illusion team will win the coveted King Kalakaua Trophy, one of dozens of beautiful and historic trophies awaiting presentation on Friday evening at the Awards Ceremony.

Provisional results are available at the Yacht website.