Trailing edge of technology

Rich Roberts looks at why Pyewacket navigator Stan Honey is racing a Cal40 in the Transpac

Tuesday July 1st 2003, Author: Rich Roberts, Location: Transoceanic
Stan Honey has sailed 17 Transpacific Yacht Races and won eight as a navigator, but the one he starts Tuesday will be his first in a long time as a forerunner of the fleet.

The first of three staggered starts at 1300 includes ten Cal 40s, five of the small racing Division 5 boats and 11 Aloha entries, the latter generally competing in more comfort than their peers. One of the Division 5 boats is B'Quest entered by the Challenged America organisation of San Diego - the first team of disabled sailors in 42 Transpacs since 1906.

The rest of the 59 boats - the race's most entries since 1985 - will start on Friday, the Fourth of July, opening the Independence Day holiday weekend in the U.S. Divisions 1 and 2 will start Sunday, July 6, featuring the marquee 'match race' between Roy E. Disney's Pyewacket and Philippe Kahn's Pegasus 77, the fastest boats in the fleet.

The starting line is near Point Fermin on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Competitors must leave Santa Catalina Island to the port side after about 23 miles, and the rest of the 2,225 nautical miles to Diamond Head is nothing but open ocean.

Honey, who normally would be navigating Pyewacket in a bid for the Barn Door trophy for fastest elapsed time, will be sailing his own Cal 40, Illusion, with his wife Sally and veterans Skip Allan and Jon Andron.

After Wendy Siegal won the Aloha class on her Cal 40, Willow Wind, in 2001, Honey encouraged her to round up as many Cal 40s as possible for the 40th anniversary of what is hailed as the first affordable production offshore racing sailboat. Her efforts were so successful that Transpac created the first class dedicated to one model of boat.

Siegal lives aboard her boat in Long Beach. She has team T-shirts noting: "The Trailing Edge of Technology!" But in 1963 the Cal 40 was ahead of its time. The first one, Persephone, was designed by Bill Lapworth on order from George Griffith and built by Jack Jensen. Although perceived by many as too light and radical in design, Cal 40s won the '65, '67 and '69 Transpacs on overall corrected handicap time.

Illusion is the favorite in the class. Her crew is legend. Besides Honey's 17 Hawaii races, including Transpac, Sally has done four, Allan 24 and Andron 13. Allan was the race's overall winner in '67, sailing Holiday Too. In '69, a windy year, Andron sailed Argonaut to the fastest Cal 40 crossing ever: 11 days 16 hours 35 minutes 23 seconds.

Honey and Illusion also own the single-handed record for San Francisco to Hawaii, but this will be a change of pace. Usually, he navigates with the advantage of watching conditions encountered by boats that started earlier. This time the later starters will be watching him, but it may not help. He'll chart Illusion's course differently than he would Pyewacket's.

Sailing straight downwind is usually slow, especially with a big ultralight that can sail faster than the wind if it sails at angles to the breeze. But with a Cal 40, once it reaches its maximum hull speed, it's better to head straight toward the finish line.

"So as a rule of thumb, we bear off instead of [trying to go] faster," Honey said. "You never go faster than 6 knots until the [spinnaker] pole's all the way back. Rather than make waves, you're better off to go deeper. When [the wind] increases from 10 to 12 knots, you bear off 40 degrees. These old boats are interesting to sail from that standpoint."

With that, the boats' courses to Hawaii are also quite different. The big boats will go where the wind blows but, Honey said, "Most of the historic Cal 40 tracks are almost like rulers. I was astonished because I navigated for a number of years on the sleds, and then I plotted out the classic Cal 40 tracks. It's just like you put a ruler from the West End [of Catalina] to Diamond Head, unlike sleds whose hull speeds are limited more by the gusts and guts of the crew."

Honey is the most famous, but the Cal 40 skippers have come from Southern and Northern California, Hawaii and even Idaho. The latter is Andy Opple, a carpenter from Sun Valley sailing Redhead. He has sailed to Hawaii six times but, at age 62, this may be his last time. He plans to sell his boat after the race to pay off a line of credit he acquired to pay expenses.

"We're not going to be much of a factor," he said. "I think I have the oldest boat and I'm sure I have the oldest sails. They're all signed by [North Sails founder] Lowell North.

"I quit sailing in 1967 and moved to Idaho. I bought the Cal 40 about six years ago. We cruised to Mexico and then to Hawaii. Then Wendy Siegal started this Cal 40 renaissance, and in the dead of Idaho winter it sounded like a pretty good idea. I got some of my old friends who I grew up with and they said they'd be willing to help me financially. I think our average age is 63. We have a vague idea of what we're doing."

Transpac notes

- Disney and Kahn competed in last weekend's North Sails Race Week at Long Beach, CA, but not head to head. Pyewacket, giving Jim Demetriades' Transpac 52, Yassou, 51 seconds per mile in handicap time, sailed four of the seven races to a standoff before pulling out to slip into full Transpac mode. Kahn sailed his Melges 24 to sixth place in a 16-boat fleet...

- An enthusiastic crowd of about 500 attended Saturday night's Aloha send off dinner at the new Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa. Even after Transpacific Yacht Club commodore Brad Avery adjourned the affair, most people lingered to laugh and talk. Stan Honey said, "This is like it was in the 70s."

- Honolulu's Dan Doyle and Bruce Burgess, who will sail doublehanded on the 1D35 Two Guys On the Edge, have dedicated their effort and a new trophy to sailing lecturer and commentator Gary Jobson, who is being treated for lymphoma. The new prize is the First Corrected (time) Double-Handed Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Gary Jobson Perpetual." In 2001 they sailed with 12-year-old lymphoma survivor Natalie Frazier as an honorary crew member. Mea Neal of the Honolulu Leukemia-Lymphoma chapter reported recently: "Natalie is doing great. Still in remission and has a full head of hair. She is 14 this year and quite the teenager. Hopefully we will see her at the Transpac [awards] dinner." . . .

- Challenged America has designated SDsailing.com as the official Web site for information, updates and data on the Challenged America team of sailors with significant disabilities. The team of disabled sailors will start Tuesday on the Tripp 40 B'Quest. CA president Urban Miyares, who is blind but will be a member of the crew, said, "Although the Transpacific Yacht Club will be providing current information on the entire fleet, [Web site owner] Carl Hancock has offered to provide this personalized service [as] a media center for information and news about the Challenged America Race Team." . . .

OFFICIAL ENTRIES (as of June 30, 2003):

RACING DIVISION

Division 1 (start July 6)

Pegasus 77 (Reichel/Pugh 77), Philippe Kahn, Honolulu.
Pyewacket (R/P 75), Roy E. Disney, Los Angeles.

Division 2 (start July 6)

Alta Vita (Transpac 52), Bill Turpin, Santa Cruz, Calif.
Beau Geste (Transpac 52), Karl Kwok, Hong Kong.
Bengal II (Ohashi 52 ),Yoshihiko Murase, Nagoya, Japan.
Grand Illusion (Santa Cruz 70), James McDowell, Lahaina, H.I.
Helsal II (Adams 60), W.E. Rawson, Melbourne, Australia.
Icon (Perry 65), Richard Robbins/Jim Roser, Seattle.
Medicine Man (Andrews 61), Bob Lane, Long Beach, Calif.
Pendragon 4 (Davidson 52), John MacLaurin, Marina del Rey, Calif.
Renegade (Andrews 70), Dan Sinclair, Vancouver, B.C., Canada.
Vicki (Andrews 68), Al and Vicki Schultz, Long Beach.

Division 3 (start July 4)

Dasher (Santa Cruz 50), Roger Groh, San Francisco.---DH.
Horizon (Santa Cruz 50), Jack Taylor, Dana Point, Calif.
Innocent Merriment (J/160), Myron Lyon, San Diego.
Jeito (J/145), Francisco Guzman, Acapulco, Mexico.
Lucky Dog (J/125), Peter Putnam, Newport Beach---DH.
Maitri (J/160), Peter Johnson, San Diego.
On Point (Schock 40), Nick Martin, Wilmington, Calif.
Pipe Dream IX (J/160), Scott Piper, Coral Gables, Fla.
Reinrag2 (J/125), Tom Garnier, Portland, Ore.
The Cone of Silence (Australian Super 30), James and Jenny Neil, Newport,
NSW, Australia.

Division 4 (start July 4)

Bolt (Olson 40), Craig Reynolds, Balboa, Calif.
Cool Man Cool2! (Sydney 38), Harrell Jones, Dana Point, Calif.
Hot Tamale (J/120), Tom and Doug Jorgensen, Glendora, Calif.
Krakatoa (Young 32), Rod Skellet, Sydney, Australia.
Lawndart (Cape Bay Fast 40), Bill Allan, Nanaimo, B.C.
Paddy Wagon (Ross 40), Richard Mainland, Marina del Rey, Calif.
Swept Away (J/120), Louis Bianco, Seattle.
Tabasco (1D35), John Wylie, San Diego.
Tera's XL (ILC 40), Antony and Daniel Barran, Northridge, Calif.
Two Guys On the Edge (1D35M), Dan Doyle, Honolulu---DH.
Wild Thing (1D35), Chris and Kara Busch, San Diego.

Division 5 (start July 1)

B'Quest (Tripp 40), Challenged America/Urban Miyares, San Diego.
Masquerade (Choate 40), Timothy Coker, San Diego.
Starbuck (Black Soo 31), Greg Nelsen, Piedmont, Calif.---DH.
There and Back Again (Tripp 40), Robert Rice, Long Beach.
Wind Dancer (Catalina 42), Paul Edwards, Wilmington, Del.

CAL 40 (start July 1)

California Girl, Don and Betty Lessley, Point Richmond, Calif.
Celebrity, Gerald Finnegan, Redondo Beach, Calif.
Flying Cloud, Darrell and Scott Wilson, Long Beach.
Illusion, Stan and Sally Honey, Palo Alto.
John B, Greg Boyer, Newport Beach, Calif.
Ralphie, Jill and Taylor Pillsbury, Laguna Beach/Eleanor and Davis
Pillsbury,
Snowmass, Colo.
Ranger, William Partridge, Richmond, Calif.
Redhead, Andrew Opple, Ketchum, Idaho.
Seafire, John T. Harrison, Honolulu.
Willow Wind, Wendy Siegal, Sunset Beach, Calif.

ALOHA DIVISION (start July 1)

Aloha A

Axapac (Wylie 39), Barry Ruff, Vancouver, B.C.
Beach Music (Tayana 52), Kirby Coryell, Lafayette, Calif.---DH.
Beautiful Day (Beneteau 47.7), William Boyd, San Diego.
Between the Sheets (Sun Odyssey 52.2), Ross Pearlman, Calabasas, Calif.
Enchanted Lady (Roberts 55 ketch), Andy Sibert, Seal Beach, Calif.
Incredible (Swan 53), Rick Gorman, Los Alamitos, Calif.
Lady Bleu II (Dynamique 62), Roger and Brenda Kuske, San Diego.
Marla R (Beneteau 50), Jon Richards, Mesa, Ariz.

Aloha B

Barking Spider (Catalina 38), David Kory, Point Richmond, Calif.
Pipe Dream (Choate/Feo 37), John Davis, Long Beach.
Sea Dancer (Ericson 35), Alvin Wheatman, Marina del Rey.

DH---Doublehanded.

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