TRANSPAC SECOND WAVE STARTS IN PERFECT CONDITIONS
A second wave of 15 entries has started today in perfect breeze and sunny skies on their way to the finish 2225 miles away in the LA-Honolulu Transpac. This classic biennial ocean race, in its 51st edition, has 26 teams on the course now, with 12 more ready to start tomorrow at 13:00 local time.
A building westerly breeze of 9-12 knots has helped propel the Division 5, 6 and 7 entries off to a fast start on their first leg of the trip, leaving the West End of Catalina to port before leaving the mainland behind with the next landfall being at Diamond Head in Honolulu.
Unfortunately one team in today’s fleet will not get to cross that finish line as intended. Just several minutes after the start of the race, spectators nearby reported hearing a loud bang, with Bill McKinley’s Ker 46+ Denali^3 spinning head to wind and dropped their jib on deck. A glance aloft revealed this was not a broken halyard, but the carbon mast tube crunched and cracked at the splice halfway up the spar.
With the shrouds slack and a pronounced sharp bend at the break, the team managed to get the mainsail down before limping back to Cabrillo Marina, nursing the cracked mast carefully so it did not collapse completely, causing more damage and possible injury to the crew.
“Our goal now,” said McKinley, of Harbor Springs, MI, “is to stabilize what we have and evaluate our next options.” This is a heartbreaking set back for the Denali team of nine, most of whom were doing their first Transpac, a bucket-list event for offshore sailors everywhere.
Other newcomers on the course are charging ahead towards the West End and beyond, fulfilling their same dream of racing to paradise. Before today’s start the mood on Standish Fleming’s team on his J/125 Nereid was a mix of excitement, confidence and… a little trepidation. Like most Transpac navigators, this is not Damian Craig’s first race, and he was focused on the technical details.
“The weather looks good with the High a little north, with good breeze close to the rhumb line, and we have our eye on a low pressure system forecast several days out that may affect our final approach [to the finish],” he said. Fleming was excited, this is his first race as a skipper. His team is solid having been battle-tested in record-breaking strong breeze and big waves in the Newport Cabo Race this year.
One newbie on the team who admitted to being “a little nervous, but excited too” was 17-year old Calvin Schmid, a rising Senior at Point Loma High School in San Diego who was adept at racing FJ’s and 29er’s but has been training for this race in the bow support role on Nereid. Schmid has also been getting praise from his team mates on his helming skills, which he admits is “really hard, but really fun.”
Schmid and everyone in this race will endure the typical rigors of offshore racing in Transpac: a gentle benign start off the SoCal coast followed by 3-4 days of cold, rough reaching under overcast skies. The clouds then part, the wind shifts aft, and for the next week or so reaching turns to running and then surfing down the waves in tradewind sailing to paradise.
So far the weather models are supporting this idyllic image of the race, even for while the final group of the fastest 19 boats in four divisions that will start tomorrow, on Saturday, July 17th, at the same time and place.
YB trackers are on board all entries, with positions indicated on the YB website at this link: https://yb.tl/