Agonising start

Rich Roberts reports on the first underway in the Transpac

Wednesday July 2nd 2003, Author: Rich Roberts, Location: United States
The starting gun fired punctually at 1300 local time Tuesday for the first of three starts in the 42nd Transpacific Yacht Race to Hawaii...and nothing happened. On a warm, sunny day, with a breeze of only 2 knots and an opposing current of 1 1/2 knots, the first 25 of 58 boats were left sailing in place.

Three minutes later Stan and Sally Honey, veterans of many Transpacs sailing their Cal 40, Illusion, were the first to claw their boat across the line (see pic below). They were followed six minutes later by William Boyd's Beneteau 47.7, Beautiful Day at the pin end of the line, a couple of lengths in front of Robert Rice's Tripp 40, There and Back Again. After 45 minutes Kirby Coryell and Neil Weinberg, sailing Beach Music doublehanded, willed their red Tayana 52 across to complete the exercise in agony.

The group consisted of 10 Cal 40s, 11 Aloha class boats in four racing Division 5 boats. Divisions 3 and 4 will start Friday, the Fourth of July, followed by the largest and faster Division 1 and 2 boats Sunday.

The prospect of sailing 2,225 nautical miles on a liquid treadmill did not seem appealing, but most of the teams appeared to be taking the frustration in good spirits - although Greg Boyer may have considered firing up the grill hanging off the back of his Cal 40, John B. But as Beach Music got under way a southwest breeze was starting to fill and Santa Catalina Island became visible through a haze 23 miles offshore. Whether anyone would clear the West End without tacking was doubtful, barring a significant wind shift to the right.

After their start, the Honeys went west along the Palos Verdes Peninsula for 15 minutes, looking for relief from the current, but as they tacked to starboard their early lead was threatened by B'Quest, the San Diego Tripp 40 manned by a crew of disabled sailors representing Challenged America in Division 5.

If there was one crew happier than B'Quest's, it was the team on John Harrison's Cal 40, Seafire, one of four Hawaiian entries in the race. Harrison isn't sailing because of a back problem, but the crew was all smiles as it sailed past a press boat and one exclaimed, "We're going home!"

Transpac Notes:

Starbuck, a Black Soo 31 entered by Greg Nelsen of Piedmont, Calif. withdrew Monday, leaving the total fleet count at 58, still the largest in 18 years...

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