The predictions of this year’s 51st edition of the biennial Transpac race from LA to Honolulu as being a fast race appear to be holding true: all teams that left the mainland starting about a week ago through the end of last week are past the halfway point in the race. The 40 boats out on the course this year have been fortunate to have a strong stable North Pacific High pressure system to the north of the course area that is allowing them to enjoy perfect 15-20 knot winds through the majority of this race.

Nearly everyone has left the cold, overcast, hard reaching conditions of the first few days and are starting to see sunshine, running with spinnakers instead of reaching, and shedding clothes as the weather gets warmer. This is the phase of the race that makes Transpac unique among other ocean races: days and days of downwind sailing that gets warmer and warmer as the islands approach on the horizon.

On Steve Sellinger’s Santa Cruz 52 Triumph, some of crew have gotten quite comfortable in this groove, being overheard to “bemoan how the race is getting short just as it was getting going.”

On board Alan Lubner’s R/P 55 Zvi they report “Amazing conditions with some 24-knot top speeds with only one storm cell overnight. We blew up a tack line splice right before a kite change. No damage, all souls safe on board and the crew is still pushing hard to Hawaii for some much needed tropical refreshments.”

And on Brent Crawford and Jason Halloway’s Beneteau 49 Knotty Boo there was a reminder that tradewind sailing is not always blissful: occasional squalls can strike and introduce some chaos into the onboard routine. “[We] shredded our A-2 and A-4 spinnakers last night in squalls. Also broke our Genoa. One crew set off a personal EPIRB this morning. This was inadvertent. All safe. Ignore.”

And while the ocean seems like a vast place, you have to keep out a watchful eye on this race. This is the first Transpac for Kate and Jim Murphy from Chicago who are racing on their TP 52 Callisto, and not only did they have a close pass a couple nights ago while overtaking Greg Dorn’s Dehler 46 Favonius, but they’ve encountered other traffic more recently as well: “We had two port-starboard crossings last night both within 100 meters! One was with Compadres (the Andrews 77 from Division 1) and the other with Horizon (John Shulze’s Santa Cruz 50 from Division 6).”

Use of the YB tracker system has revolutionized our ability to follow the race, and even with the 4-hour delay restriction placed on the public side of the system there is endless speculation about ETA’s for the team’s finishing dates and times at Diamond Head. The YB system helps fuel this speculation by displaying its own predictions based on measured rates of progress that project into the future to calculate a finish time. This is just math of course, and does not take into account possible wind changes in direction and strength to either accelerate or decelerate progress. This is why race organizers at the Transpacific YC allow the positions to go Live when teams get to within 200 miles of the finish.

Nonetheless, we may also indulge in some of our own speculation: at her current rate of speed with 690 miles to go, Roy Disney’s turbo Volvo 70 Pyewacket would be at Diamond Head at 0700 Hawaii Standard Time on Friday July 23rd. Next across the line would be Cecil and Lynn Rossi’s Farr 57 Ho’okolohe a little over 9 hours later in the afternoon. Then on Saturday and Sunday boats from all divisions will start coming in fast and furious to fill the docks over the weekend at Waikiki with Transpac sailors, their families and friends.

While COVID restrictions had prevented planning the traditional arrival parties, all teams will be guaranteed a warm Aloha welcome when they arrive.