Slow coaches

A windless Pacific is making slow progress for the boats trying to cross it, reports Rich Roberts

Friday July 11th 2003, Author: Rich Roberts, Location: Transoceanic
The slowest elapsed time ever in 41 previous Transpacific Yacht Races since 1906 was five minutes shy of 24 days by William Merry's Viking Childe, a 42-foot ketch in 1939.

That was the only Transpac to start in San Francisco and actually was 140 miles shorter than the 2,225-nautical mile course from Los Angeles in play since 1941. For that route, the longest race was a bit over 21 1/2 days by Irving H. Baltzer and Verne Pemberton's Blue Jacket, a 50-foot ketch from the Aeolian Yacht Club, in 1953.

One boat reported on the daily roll call that year: "Out of wind, out of patience, out of beer."

The current race isn't that bad yet, but the foregoing is mentioned because competitors are starting to relate to those painful passages of the past. There was this report Thursday from the veteran Wendy Siegal's Cal 40, Willow Wind:

"Early morning, just at daybreak. Supposedly, there is more wind to the south of us, but as of now we are wallowing in 2-3 knots of wind. The newbies on board don't believe in 20-30 knot trade winds and, quite frankly, right now, I'm wondering if it is all a myth. This is the second light air Transpac in a row and this year is much worse than last year. The wind predictions have not been accurate at all. When we looked at the surface analysis yesterday, we SHOULD have been in 20-knot trades."

Typically, Philippe Kahn's Pegasus 77 sailed only 249 miles but stretched its lead over Roy E. Disney's Pyewacket - now directly behind - from 8 to 43 miles. Pipe Dream, a Choate/Feo 37 being coaxed along by John Davis in the Aloha B class, has made only 56 and 65 miles the last two days of what looks like an 18-day trip.

"The 24-hour runs are enough to make a grown man cry," communications officer Grant Baldwin commented from Alaska Eagle.

Only eight of the 54 boats made 200 miles - a bad day by normal standards. Four are now projected to reach the Diamond Head finish line as late as July 18, the day of the awards dinner. No boats are projected to finish before Monday, July 14.

Through it all, Stan Honey, sailing his and wife Sally's Cal 40, Illusion, from Palo Alto, with veterans Skip Allan and Jon Andron as crew, has demonstrated his usual Transpac navigational wizardry - heretofore beneficial to Pyewacket - by putting this much slower boat in the right places at the right times. With 172 miles from Wednesday to Thursday,
Illusion had a better day than most of the boats in Division 4 and below and now lead the next Cal 40 by 68 miles.

In his daily commentary from Pegasus 77, Kahn said, "our strategy [against Pyewacket] has worked better than expected," and he also took time to question Honey's strategy and check out the Transpac 52 duel as Bill Turpin's Alta Vita made a move on Karl Kwok's Beau Geste.

"Beau Geste didn't play the shifts as we did in order to dive south and cover Alta Vita," Kahn said. "Stan Honey is heading north in his Cal 40. It seems that he is trying to call an early layline to set himself up for port approach to Honolulu. That's an interesting move given the present weather forecasts."

As for the forecasts, there may be hope beyond the horizon. Phil Mislinski, a freelance photographer on Oahu, told the Transpac press office, "the trades have been blowing really hard here - notes have been flying off my refrigerator, magnets and all - and the local forecasts say it's going to blow through Sunday. There's a significant chop and whitecaps on the water."

Baldwin said, "It's starting to smell like the tropics, [and] the forecast from Commanders Weather indicates stronger winds with east-northeast trades improving over the next 48 hours."


(Listed in order of corrected handicap time; actual miles to go noted)


Division 1 (started July 6)

1. Pegasus 77 (Reichel/Pugh 77), Philippe Kahn, Honolulu, 1,224 miles to go.
2. Pyewacket (R/P 75), Roy E. Disney, Los Angeles, 1,267.

Division 2 (started July 6)

1. Beau Geste (Transpac 52), Karl Kwok, Hong Kong, 1,330.
2. Alta Vita (Transpac 52), Bill Turpin, Santa Cruz, Calif., 1,349.
3. Grand Illusion (Santa Cruz 70), James McDowell, Lahaina, H.I., 1,376.
4. Medicine Man (Andrews 61), Bob Lane, Long Beach, Calif., 1,344.
5. Icon (Perry 65), Richard Robbins/Jim Roser, Seattle, 1,392.
6. Pendragon 4 (Davidson 52), John MacLaurin, Marina del Rey, Calif., 1,445.
7. Vicki (Andrews 68), Al and Vicki Schultz, Long Beach, 1,381.
8. Bengal II (Ohashi 52 ),Yoshihiko Murase, Nagoya, Japan, 1,461.
9. Helsal II (Adams 60), W.E. Rawson, Melbourne, Australia, 1,529.
WD---Renegade (Andrews 70), Dan Sinclair, Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

Division 3 (started July 4)

1. Maitri (J/160), Peter Johnson, San Diego, 1,047.
2. Innocent Merriment (J/160), Myron Lyon, San Diego, 1,066.
3. Reinrag2 (J/125), Tom Garnier, Portland, Ore., 1,066.
4. Pipe Dream IX (J/160), Scott Piper, Coral Gables, Fla., 1,108.
5. Jeito (J/145), Francisco Guzman, Acapulco, Mexico, 1,071.
6. Horizon (Santa Cruz 50), Jack Taylor, Dana Point, Calif., 1,152.
7. On Point (Schock 40), Nick Martin, Wilmington, Calif., 1,185.
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. Wild Thing (1D35), Chris and Kara Busch, San Diego, 1,145.
2. Hot Tamale (J/120), Tom and Doug Jorgensen, Glendora, Calif., 1,175.
3. Swept Away (J/120), Louis Bianco, Seattle, 1,204.
4. Tabasco (1D35), John Wylie, San Diego, 1,180.
5. Paddy Wagon (Ross 40), Richard Mainland, Marina del Rey, Calif., 1,169.
6. Cool Man Cool2! (Sydney 38), Harrell Jones, Dana Point, Calif., 1,212.
7. Tera's XL (ILC 40), Antony and Daniel Barran, Northridge, Calif., 1,169.
8. Two Guys On the Edge (1D35M), Dan Doyle, Honolulu, 1,210 (DH).
9. Krakatoa (Young 32), Rod Skellet, Sydney, Australia, 1,262.
10. Bolt (Olson 40), Craig Reynolds, Balboa, Calif., 1,257.
11. Lawndart (Cape Bay Fast 40), Bill Allan, Nanaimo, B.C., 1,313.

Division 5 (started July 1)

1. Wind Dancer (Catalina 42), Paul Edwards, Wilmington, Del., 751.
2. There and Back Again (Tripp 40), Robert Rice, Long Beach, 704.
3. Masquerade (Choate 40), Timothy Coker, San Diego, 783.
4. B'Quest (Tripp 40), Challenged America/Urban Miyares, San Diego, 769.

CAL 40 (started July 1)

1. Illusion, Stan and Sally Honey, Palo Alto, 740.
2. Seafire, John T. Harrison, Honolulu, 808.
3. Ranger, William Partridge, Richmond, Calif., 818.
4. Ralphie, Jill and Taylor Pillsbury, Laguna Beach/Eleanor and Davis
Pillsbury, Snowmass, Colo., 815.
5. John B, Greg Boyer, Newport Beach, Calif., 833.
6. California Girl, Don and Betty Lessley, Point Richmond, Calif., 823.
7. Flying Cloud, Darrell and Scott Wilson, Long Beach, 841.
8. Willow Wind, Wendy Siegal, Sunset Beach, Calif., 849.
9. Celebrity, Gerald Finnegan, Redondo Beach, Calif., 872.
10. Redhead, Andrew Opple, Ketchum, Idaho, 912.

ALOHA DIVISION (started July 1)

Aloha A

1. Between the Sheets (Sun Odyssey 52.2), Ross Pearlman, Calabasas, Calif.,
2. Enchanted Lady (Roberts 55 ketch), Andy Sibert, Seal Beach, Calif., 722.
3. Incredible (Swan 53), Rick Gorman, Los Alamitos, Calif., 705.
4. Beautiful Day (Beneteau 47.7), William Boyd, San Diego, 704.
5. Marla R (Beneteau 50), Jon Richards, Mesa, Ariz., 715.
6. Axapac (Wylie 39), Barry Ruff, Vancouver, B.C., 782.
7. Lady Bleu II (Dynamique 62), Roger and Brenda Kuske, San Diego, 645.
8. Beach Music (Tayana 52), Kirby Coryell, Lafayette, Calif., 842 (DH).

Aloha B

1. Barking Spider (Catalina 38), David Kory, Point Richmond, Calif., 883.
2. Sea Dancer (Ericson 35), Alvin Wheatman, Marina del Rey, 1,037.
3. Pipe Dream (Choate/Feo 37), John Davis, Long Beach, 1,062.



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