Pyewacket ahead, Pegasus faster

As the maxi sleds slog it out on the Transpac highway, reports Rich Roberts

Wednesday July 9th 2003, Author: Rich Roberts, Location: Transoceanic
Pegasus 77 sailed farther and faster Tuesday but Pyewacket stretched its lead in the marquee match race of the 42nd Transpacific Yacht Race to Hawaii, a situation that has often been an anomaly of the race for the last half century.

Meanwhile, Renegade, an Andrews 70 sailed by Dan Sinclair dropped out Monday afternoon with a problem described as "failure of the boat's steering sheaves." Renegade started in Division 2 a day earlier and was 260 miles offshore in Mexican waters. Sinclair, sailing his fourth Transpac, said the breakdown occurred in 12ft seas. He said the boat was in no danger and was returning to San Diego but gave no ETA.

There have been three dropouts since the starts, reducing the fleet to 54 boats. Beau Geste, a Transpac 52 sailed by Hong Kong businessman Karl Kwok with a largely New Zealand crew led by Gavin Brady, now leads Division 2 boat for boat and on corrected handicap time, second only to Pyewacket in the latter.

Until 1947, logic called for sailing a direct, or "rhumb," line of 2,225 nautical miles from Los Angeles to Honolulu because sailors didn't realise they could avoid a region of light wind by sailing a little farther south.

With improved weather information developed in World War II, two boats - Chubasco and Westward - tried just that in '47 and finished first and third. Then in '49, when Westward's navigator, Bob Allan, pulled the same ploy that delivered the first Barn Door trophy to Richard Rheem's Morning Star as first boat to finish, the others were sold on the concept of the Pacific High - that monstrous, undulating zone of high pressure waddling over the eastern Pacific Ocean.

Avoiding the high remains conventional wisdom in the 42nd Transpac 54 years later, but it's a like a boxing opponent, bobbing and weaving and leaving everyone on every boat to look to the navigator for guidance. And where does the navigator look? Often to Nashua, New Hampshire, where George Caras of Commanders' Weather is based.

Studying the positions reported at Tuesday morning's daily roll call, Caras said, "North may be favoured a little bit [Monday] or [Tuesday], but south will be favoured starting [Thursday]. The goal for a lot of the boats is going to be to get farther south."

Those would include Pyewacket, Roy E. Disney's Reichel/Pugh 75 that holds the race record of about 7 1/2 days. Sailing a more direct course, Pyewacket logged 329 miles at 13.7 knots in the first full day at sea and moved into first place in corrected handicap time for the entire fleet.

Oddly, Philippe Kahn's R/P 77 Pegasus, taking a more tactical southerly route, went 338 miles at 14.1 knots but dropped to 27 miles behind.

"[ Pyewacket] got a little lead because they found a shade more breeze up north," Caras said, "but they'll come down now to keep up with the wind. Their wind angle may not be as good coming down and it could tighten the gap or give Pegasus a little bit of an advantage, but we'll have to see on that."

There also is good news and bad news for everybody, Caras said. "The high [pressure area] is moving away from the fleet farther out. That's going to allow that low to come east-southeast, and that essentially will weaken the trade winds. High pressure drives the belt of the trades, but it'll be so high up that it'll have less influence."

That could dampen hopes of a record. The frontrunner, Roger and Brenda Kuske's Lady Bleu II, a Dynamique 62 that started with the Aloha class a week earlier, was 884 miles from the finish but sailing into weaker wind above the rhumb line. "Their smarter move would be to come a little farther south," Caras said.

Wendy Siegal, reporting from Willow Wind, the Cal 40 that won the Aloha class in 2001, confirmed Caras' assessment. "The winds were as light as I can remember seeing them in the middle of the Pacific," she said. "We got down to 5 knots of wind . . . just trying to keep the [spinnaker] filled as we slopped along. We're supposed to be in 15-knot trades."


(Listed in order of projected corrected handicap time, noting actual miles to go)


Division 1 (started July 6)

1. Pyewacket (R/P 75), Roy E. Disney, Los Angeles, 1,684 miles to go.
2. Pegasus 77 (Reichel/Pugh 77), Philippe Kahn, Honolulu, 1,711.

Division 2 (started July 6)

1. Beau Geste (Transpac 52), Karl Kwok, Hong Kong, 1,758.
2. Grand Illusion (Santa Cruz 70), James McDowell, Lahaina, H.I., 1,772.
3. Vicki (Andrews 68), Al and Vicki Schultz, Long Beach, 1,773.
4. Medicine Man (Andrews 61), Bob Lane, Long Beach, Calif., 1,768.
5. Pendragon 4 (Davidson 52), John MacLaurin, Marina del Rey, Calif., 1,828.
6. Alta Vita (Transpac 52), Bill Turpin, Santa Cruz, Calif., 1,816.
7. Icon (Perry 65), Richard Robbins/Jim Roser, Seattle, 1,818.
8. Bengal II (Ohashi 52 ),Yoshihiko Murase, Nagoya, Japan, 1,863.
9. Helsal II (Adams 60), W.E. Rawson, Melbourne, Australia, 1,879.
WD---Renegade (Andrews 70), Dan Sinclair, Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

Division 3 (started July 4)

1. Maitri (J/160), Peter Johnson, San Diego, 1,396.
2. Pipe Dream IX (J/160), Scott Piper, Coral Gables, Fla., 1,429.
3. Innocent Merriment (J/160), Myron Lyon, San Diego, 1,425.
4. Jeito (J/145), Francisco Guzman, Acapulco, Mexico, 1,417.
5. Reinrag2 (J/125), Tom Garnier, Portland, Ore., 1,447.
6. Horizon (Santa Cruz 50), Jack Taylor, Dana Point, Calif., 1,456.
7. On Point (Schock 40), Nick Martin, Wilmington, Calif., 1,459.
WD---The Cone of Silence (Australian Super 30), James and Jenny Neill,
Newport, NSW, Australia.
WD---Lucky Dog (J/125), Peter Putnam, Newport Beach (DH).

Division 4 (started July 4)

1. Hot Tamale (J/120), Tom and Doug Jorgensen, Glendora, Calif., 1,488. .
2. Wild Thing (1D35), Chris and Kara Busch, San Diego, 1,477.
3. Tabasco (1D35), John Wylie, San Diego, 1,489.
4. Swept Away (J/120), Louis Bianco, Seattle, 1,525.
5. Paddy Wagon (Ross 40), Richard Mainland, Marina del Rey, Calif., 1,494.
6. Tera's XL (ILC 40), Antony and Daniel Barran, Northridge, Calif., 1,489.
7. Krakatoa (Young 32), Rod Skellet, Sydney, Australia, 1,541.
8. Bolt (Olson 40), Craig Reynolds, Balboa, Calif., 1,529.
9. Cool Man Cool2! (Sydney 38), Harrell Jones, Dana Point, Calif., 1,532. .
10. Two Guys On the Edge (1D35M), Dan Doyle, Honolulu, 1,521 (DH).
11. Lawndart (Cape Bay Fast 40), Bill Allan, Nanaimo, B.C., 1,564.

Division 5 (started July 1)

1. Wind Dancer (Catalina 42), Paul Edwards, Wilmington, Del., 1,068.
2. There and Back Again (Tripp 40), Robert Rice, Long Beach, 1,033.
3. Masquerade (Choate 40), Timothy Coker, San Diego, 1,100.
4. B'Quest (Tripp 40), Challenged America/Urban Miyares, San Diego, 1,071.

CAL 40 (started July 1)

1. Illusion, Stan and Sally Honey, Palo Alto, 1,064.
2. Seafire, John T. Harrison, Honolulu, 1,118.
3. Redhead, Andrew Opple, Ketchum, Idaho, 1,115.
4. California Girl, Don and Betty Lessley, Point Richmond, Calif., 1,105.
5. Ralphie, Jill and Taylor Pillsbury, Laguna Beach/Eleanor and Davis
Pillsbury, Snowmass, Colo., 1,114.
6. Ranger, William Partridge, Richmond, Calif., 1,132.
7. Flying Cloud, Darrell and Scott Wilson, Long Beach, 1,122.
8. John B, Greg Boyer, Newport Beach, Calif., 1,137.
9. Willow Wind, Wendy Siegal, Sunset Beach, Calif., 1,140.
10. Celebrity, Gerald Finnegan, Redondo Beach, Calif., 1,173.

ALOHA DIVISION (started July 1)

Aloha A

1. Between the Sheets (Sun Odyssey 52.2), Ross Pearlman, Calabasas, Calif.,
2. Marla R (Beneteau 50), Jon Richards, Mesa, Ariz., 966.
3. Beautiful Day (Beneteau 47.7), William Boyd, San Diego, 968.
4. Incredible (Swan 53), Rick Gorman, Los Alamitos, Calif., 995.
5. Lady Bleu II (Dynamique 62), Roger and Brenda Kuske, San Diego, 884.
6. Enchanted Lady (Roberts 55 ketch), Andy Sibert, Seal Beach, Calif.,
7. Axapac (Wylie 39), Barry Ruff, Vancouver, B.C., 1,086.
8. Beach Music (Tayana 52), Kirby Coryell, Lafayette, Calif., 1,124 (DH).

Aloha B

1. Barking Spider (Catalina 38), David Kory, Point Richmond, Calif., 1,165.
2. Pipe Dream (Choate/Feo 37), John Davis, Long Beach, 1,176.
3. Sea Dancer (Ericson 35), Alvin Wheatman, Marina del Rey, 1,286.


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