Tripp 40 leads the charge

Rich Roberts brings us up to date with proceedings in the Transpac

Thursday July 3rd 2003, Author: Rich Roberts, Location: Transoceanic
Speed, beauty and comfort embodied in a Beneteau 47.7 model cruiser racer were setting the early pace among 25 boats on the second day of the 42nd Transpacific Yacht Race Wednesday. Meanwhile, 23 Division 3 and 4 boats were preparing to start Friday, followed by the last and fastest dozen on Sunday.

William Boyd's Beautiful Day, an Aloha-A class entry representing the San Diego Yacht Club, had sailed 128 of the race's 2,225 nautical miles toward Honolulu since Tuesday's 1pm start by Wednesday's 8:30 a.m. roll call and position reports. The average speed was a modest 6.7 knots, but that was expected to accelerate upon reaching the northeast trade winds about 500 miles out.

On projected corrected handicap time, Stan and Sally Honey's Cal 40, Illusion was the overall leader among the 10 Cal 40s, 11 Alohas and four racing division 5 boats that started Tuesday in painfully light winds off the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Illusion had sailed 117 miles and led all of the Cal 40s, boat for boat, with the Pillsbury family's
Ralphie second and Don and Betty Lessley's California Girl third.

With a five-day head start and favorable conditions, one of the Tuesday starters could even beat Philippe Kahn's defending Barn Door winner, Pegasus 77, and Roy E. Disney's record holder, Pyewacket, to the Diamond Head finish line. But that isn't an overriding goal in the Aloha class, where most of the boats are too laden with creature comforts and amenities to compete head to head with the ultralights.

After Tuesday's drifting start, the boats found fresh breeze to 11 or 12 knots in the San Pedro Channel that was still blowing 8 1/2 by the time the leaders passed the West End of Santa Catalina Island - the only mark of the course 23 miles out. The first boat around was There and Back Again, a Tripp 40 sailed by Robert Rice.

Doug Ludden, an unofficial observer following in his own Cal 40, said, "as soon as the wind filled, There and Back Again just took off and left everybody. The wind went really to the west an everybody got lifted incredibly. Everybody was on their biggest sails. It appeared that the entire fleet got around the West End without having to tack."

Only Beautiful Day was in front of There and Back Again at morning roll call time.

Earlier, it was touch and go whether Ralphie would get to the starting line on time. Less than three hours before the start the crew was still at the dock in San Pedro drilling holes in the topsides for new jib tracks. "Plus, we had a little smoke down below," Davis Pillsbury reported from his boat later. "Turned out to be okay, though. Something to do with the new alternator."

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