Transpac update

A strong contingent from down under to take part, reports Rich Roberts

Thursday May 22nd 2003, Author: Rich Roberts, Location: Transoceanic
The final entry deadline for the 42nd Transpacific Yacht Race is this Friday, May 23. The first of three starts will be 39 days later.

'G'day, mates, and no worries', say three Australian entries already signed up for the 2,225-nautical mile romp from Los Angeles to Honolulu. Uncommitted contestants are urged to contact entries chairman Bill Lee at (831) 464-4872 or by e-mail at

Entries currently total 60, which would be the most since 64 boats sailed in 1985.

The turnout from Down Under features William Rawson's Helsal II, an Adams 60 from Melbourne; Rod Skellet's Krakatoa, a Young 32 from Sydney, and - just in this week---James and Jenny Neill's The Cone of Silence, an Australian Super 30 from Newport, New South Wales. All have extensive ocean racing records, including the Sydney-Hobart race.

"We poor people who sail small boats are always looking for the next challenge," Skellet said. "Doing offshore races in small boats sparks a bit of interest from the yachting media as most of them think we are nuts even contemplating a Hobart or a Transpac."

Not for long. Krakatoa finished the last Sydney-Hobart in 3 days 7 hours - the fastest time ever for a boat less than 10 meters (32 1/2 feet) long.

"We actually came within 15 minutes of breaking the 40-foot record, but the wind god was against us," Skellet said. "It took us two hours to cover the last two miles."

Like Krakatoa, The Cone of Silence also is rated exceptionally fast for its size, without sacrificing speed - a design concept fostered by the tragic 1998 Sydney-Hobart when six sailors were lost.

Skellet said, "The IMS [rating rule] encouraged tender boats with small kites and poles, which is both less seaworthy and slow. I wanted something stiff, strong, seaworthy, fast and safe so my crew could venture out in all but the worst conditions and have a pretty good chance of finishing and have a lot of fun at the same time."

Skellet and the Neills have won several Australian national small boat championships. At the other end of the scale, Rawson will sail Helsal II with a 16-person crew including three women. He has competed in five Sydney-Hobarts, as well as the recent Cape Town to Rio de Janeiro race. Transpac will mark his third participation in the 13 events considered to be the top offshore/ocean races, including three in which size doesn't count.

Skellet said, "I have a tremendous crew of experienced offshore small boat sailors, as compared to experienced offshore big boat sailors, and a preparedness and commitment to give our best on the water, and I am really looking forward to that famous Transpac welcome in Honolulu."

Transpac cameos

Some Transpac boats, including Roy E. Disney's record-holder, Pyewacket, and Wendy Siegal's 2001 Aloha class winner, the Cal 40 Willow Wind, are expected to compete in the 23rd annual Around Catalina race organized by Cabrillo Beach and Dana Point Yacht Clubs this weekend. The 75-nautical mile course starts near the Los Angeles Harbor entrance lighthouse, leaves Santa Catalina Island 22 miles offshore to port and finishes at the Dana Point Harbor breakwater down the coast...

Karl Kwok's new Transpac 52, Beau Geste, is on a ship from New Zealand bound for San Francisco. The crew includes Gavin Brady and several other world-class Kiwi sailors. The Hong Kong businessman plans to sail it in the Coastal Race June 14 from San Francisco to Santa Catalina Island as a tune-up...

The last Safety at Sea seminar before Transpac - required of 30 per cent of the crew and both members of a doublehanded crew within the last five years - is scheduled June 28 at the Orange Coast College of Sailing and Seamanship in Newport Beach. The most recent one in March drew a full house of 126 people, most of them Transpac participants, so those interested are urged to sign up by phone at (949) 645-9412, ext. 2.

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