Transpac raises its limits

All change for next year's sleigh ride west to Hawaii

Monday April 7th 2008, Author: Rich Roberts, Location: United Kingdom
There’s a new wave in ocean racing, and the Transpacific Yacht Race will ride it to Hawaii in 2009.

The TPYC board of directors has posted an Advance Notice of Entry Requirements for the 45th race from Los Angeles to Honolulu next year with two key changes: a maximum length overall (LOA) extended to 30.48m (100ft) for fastest elapsed time or course record contenders and the free use of stored energy for sail hoisting, trimming and adjusting - essentially, ending a Transpac ban on powered winches.

Entry chairman Bill Lee said: “We wanted to set a limit consistent with the major races in the rest of the world, and 30.48 is where it’s going. This should include all of the modern 100-foot racing boats, and is consistent with the International Maxi Association’s maximum size for racing boats.”

The 30.48m limit matches that established recently by the International Maxi Association. One prominent Maxi owner, Neville Crichton of New Zealand, has already stated his endorsement in regard to Transpac.

“We are definitely extending my boat [ Alfa Romeo] to that length,” Crichton said, “and I would imagine the other boats that will be doing the European races will also do similar mode. I am definitely interested in participating in [Transpac]... Just a thought: if we were to do Transpac with several boats it would be good to possibly come back [to California] and do the Big Boat Series afterwards in San Francisco.”

The new Transpac entry requirements also allow for a multihull fleet with a minimum of two entries and no maximum size or rating limit but a minimum LOA of 45ft.

The Transpac Technical Committee chaired by Bill Lee and composed of Commodore Dale Nordin, designer Alan Andrews, veteran ocean racing navigators Ernie Richau and Stan Honey, US Sailing Offshore Director Dan Nowlan and Transpac veteran Sue Senescu presented the new requirements to the board of directors.

Lee said, “It was agreed that heavy cruising Aloha Division-type boats which are not contenders for the course record should be permitted to enter and compete for Aloha division prizes, even if they exceed the race boat limit of 30.48 meters.”

Other highlights of the new requirements:

- A minimum LOA of 26ft for monohulls and a rated speed equal to that of a Catalina 34 with spinnaker and 155% jib.
- Minimum crew will be two, and the use of autopilots will be allowed only on boats competing for doublehanded prizes.
-A tungsten bulb that meets all of the conditions of the IRC grandfather is permitted.


Ala Wai looking better all the time

Transpac’s home in Hawaii is on its way to complete restoration after recent years of decay and disrepair, thanks to the release by Gov Linda Lingle of nearly $6 million in the past few months for major infrastructure improvements at Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor.

“Things have been moving along positively over here for the first time in years,” said Mark Hazlett, Transpac’s Honolulu Committee chairman and immediate past Commodore of the Waikiki Yacht Club.

The project has been nudged along by persistent urging from Roy E. Disney, who sailed in 15 Transpacs and whose Pyewacket boats won three Barn Doors for fastest elapsed time.

Disney said: “I have been in touch in recent months, largely as a result of my letters to the editor [of a Honolulu newspaper], with Laura Thielen, who is in charge of - among many other things - the small boat harbors in the State of Hawaii. Laura was good enough to spend some time with me and her staff, back in October, and gave me reason to think that progress on the Ala Wai situation was possible...and indeed, as you can see, is indeed progressing.”

In the first $1.65 million phase, the temporary floating F dock loaned by WYC for the 2005 and 2007 races after the long 500 dock - the historic 'Transpac Row' - was condemned has been replaced with a permanent dock for 70 boats. Part of that money also was used to design new B, C and D docks, which a few weeks ago received $4.19 million for construction plus design work for the 500 and 700 docks.

Thielen, chairperson of the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, said: “In recent years failing piers caused slips to be taken out of service. At the expected completion of this [docks B, C and D] in March of 2009 we will have replaced a total of 240 slips, or approximately 30 per cent of slips at this harbor.”

That doesn’t include a new 500 dock/Transpac Row, but that’s on the horizon.

Hazlett said, “Construction of Transpac Row is scheduled to begin in February 2010 and be completed in February 2011. However, the new floating docks should make things a lot easier than 2005 and 2007.”

In a recent letter the Transpac directors formally thanked Thielen “and your entire staff for your collective efforts. The Ala Wai has, as you know, been a sort of spiritual home and haven for many Transpac sailors and their families and friends for many years. . . . We understand, too, that this means a great deal to not only to us but to all Hawaiians, and many of us like to think of ourselves as just a tiny bit Hawaiian, too!”

Meanwhile, at the other end of the race . . .

As Ala Wai was falling deep into disrepair in the early part of the century, Transpac found another haven at the front end of the race. Rainbow Harbor in downtown Long Beach became the race’s mainland home port, where in the days before the last two races the city has hosted competitors and their boats with free mooring and provided rousing sendoffs to the starting line, all as part of the city’s annual Sea Festival.

Last year along the harbor promenade the city erected 11 permanent monuments, each dedicated to a decade of the race with photographs and text. For next year’s race the city will be adding 600 feet of dock space.

“With that kind of hospitality added to the Aloha experience in Honolulu, it’s no wonder that our sailors think it’s the greatest race in the world,” Transpac Commodore Dale Nordin said. “We can only repay that generosity by continuing to run a world-class event.”

The Transpacific Yacht Club has maintained a sponsorship agreement with Casio Computer Co., Ltd., to make the company's Oceanus watch the official timekeeper of the 45th biennial race. The Oceanus is a solar-powered chronograph watch with a time signal-calibration function developed by making full use of Casio's advanced electronic technologies.

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