Rudi rocks

In Transpac battle of the navigators as Pegasus is first big boat to finish, reports Rich Roberts

Tuesday July 15th 2003, Author: Rich Roberts, Location: Transoceanic
A full moon lighted the way past the Diamond Head finish line for Philippe Kahn's Pegasus 77 and a second consecutive Barn Door victory in the 42nd Transpacific Yacht Race from Los Angeles early Monday.

Kahn's archrival later described the path laid by the lunar reflection on the water as "like sailing down the moon river," but Roy E. Disney and his crew aboard Pyewacket were nearly five hours behind in a match of equally powerful sailing machines.

The Barn Door is a 3 ½-by-4-foot slab of carved Hawaiian koa wood that goes to the boat with the fastest elapsed time for the 2,225 nautical miles. Four Aloha boats that started five days earlier finished ahead of Pegasus 77 by as much as 15 hours, but their ETs were days slower.

Finishing at 3:15 a.m. local time, Pegasus 77's time was 7 days 16 hours 31 minutes 17 seconds, the fourth fastest ever for the race but nearly five hours over Pyewacket's record of 7:11:41:27 in a windier 1999 race. Pyewacket's time was 7:21:18:01, the eighth fastest ever.

"Records aren't something you can control," Kahn said. "Either the weather was going to cooperate or not. We did break a record for the daily run, and what was interesting about that is we did it without a lot of wind."

A day earlier, with no more than 18 knots of breeze, Pegasus 77 completed a 24-hour run of 356 miles, breaking the record of 353 set by Magnitude in 1999.

Disney, whose boat has been highly modified since '99, said, "Both of these boats are much faster than what we set the record with."

When the wind increased late in the race, Pegasus 77, then in a commanding position against Pyewacket, seemed to have a shot at the record. "We thought about that a lot," Disney said, laughing. "Quite a lot."

At the time, Pegasus 77 still had an outside chance of achieving a rare Transpac sweep: fastest elapsed time and first in class and fleet on overall corrected handicap time.

But, ironically, a 40-year-old Cal 40 whose crew included Pyewacket's usual navigator, Stan Honey, finished in time late the same morning to correct out on Pegasus 77 by about half an hour. However, Bill Turpin's Transpac 52, Alta Vita has the inside track on the honour with about a two-hour edge and needs to finish before 7:12 a.m. local time Tuesday to clinch it. If the trade winds hold, that is well within its reach.

Illusion, with Honey's wife Sally and Transpac veterans Skip Allan and Jon Andron joining Stan, was first overall on handicap time through most of the race but slipped back as the larger, faster boats accelerated in stronger breeze.

The problem was, as Stan Honey said, "If [the wind] picks up from 10 to 20 knots, we go from 7 to 8."

But, flying a full-blown spinnaker in 30 knots of following wind, they flew down through the finish line, surfing at 16 knots to beat nine other Cal 40s in a revival of the class that dominated the race in the late 60s.

Later, several of the disappointed Pyewacket team, including Disney, greeted their teammate at Ala Wai Yacht Harbor, where Doug Rastello told Honey, "We needed that."

The outcome of the Pegasus 77- Pyewacket contest was determined early on, not by boat speed but by strategic differences of opinion.

"We led them past [Santa] Catalina [Island] by a mile, but then we went right and they went left, and they were right and we were wrong," Disney said. The Pyewacket crew was stunned by the second day's morning roll call and position report that showed Pegasus 77 100 miles south of them.

"We were surprised how low [south] they went the second day," said Peter Isler, who replaced Stan Honey as Pyewacket's navigator for this race. Then, when the shift they were expecting failed to produce a lively breeze, they had to eat their mistake and give up a lot of miles to find better wind south. That's when Pegasus 77 came slightly north to drop into a controlling position directly in front.

Mark Rudiger, Pegasus 77's navigator, said, "It was [wind strength] pressure versus angle, and I've learned the hard way over the years that the first half of this race you have to go for the pressure and the second half you can start working on angle. So I just tell the guys, 'Send the boat the fastest way it can go.' Speed rules.

"Originally our plan was to stay with them, but we decided to sail our own race. Our goal was always to hold at least 30 miles of southing on them to make sure we had a little more pressure but try to put them back on bearing so they had no angle they could get at us with. Crusty did a really good job of masterminding that [plan]."

Crusty is Mark Christensen, who was on the winning team in the last two Volvo Ocean Races but had never sailed a Transpac. "The first couple of days I was having trouble getting a grasp on how far off course we were going," he said. "Rudi's [saying], 'Get south, get south.' After that we just had to try to think what they were thinking and do the gybes so we'd always set ourselves up between them and the mark.

"We were pretty confident with all our forecasts. It was kind of scary. We just got every shift. Even today, Rudi would say, 'Well, the wind's supposed to go to [a compass direction of] 060 . . . be patient, be patient.' So we waited and waited and finally gybed on 050 and an hour later it was 060 and we came screaming in. The whole race was like that."

On the last night, sailing in 26 knots of wind in the Molokai Channel, the wind shifted after Pegasus 77 gybed -a quirk that turned into a half-hour shortcut toward the finish."Again," Christensen said, "Rudi could do no wrong."

The young veteran Morgan Larson said, in a way, the race was routine. "I like it when things go wrong," he said. "It was too easy."


(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, finished, elapsed time 7:16:31:17.
2. Pyewacket (R/P 75), Roy E. Disney, Los Angeles, 27 miles to go.

Division 2 (started July 6)

1. Alta Vita (Transpac 52), Bill Turpin, Santa Cruz, Calif., 255.
2. Beau Geste (Transpac 52), Karl Kwok, Hong Kong, 247.
3. Pendragon 4 (Davidson 52), John MacLaurin, Marina del Rey, Calif., 376.
4. Grand Illusion (Santa Cruz 70), James McDowell, Lahaina, H.I., 355.
5. Icon (Perry 65), Richard Robbins/Jim Roser, Seattle, 359.
6. Medicine Man (Andrews 61), Bob Lane, Long Beach, Calif., 247.
7. Bengal II (Ohashi 52 ),Yoshihiko Murase, Nagoya, Japan, 502.
8. Helsal II (Adams 60), W.E. Rawson, Melbourne, Australia, 570.
9. Vicki (Andrews 68), Al and Vicki Schultz, Long Beach, 420.
WD---Renegade (Andrews 70), Dan Sinclair, Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

Division 3 (started July 4)

1. Reinrag2 (J/125), Tom Garnier, Portland, Ore., 121.
2. Maitri (J/160), Peter Johnson, San Diego, 157.
3. Innocent Merriment (J/160), Myron Lyon, San Diego, 201.
4. Jeito (J/145), Francisco Guzman, Acapulco, Mexico, 164.
5. Pipe Dream IX (J/160), Scott Piper, Coral Gables, Fla., 303.
6. Horizon (Santa Cruz 50), Jack Taylor, Dana Point, Calif., 279.
7. On Point (Schock 40), Nick Martin, Wilmington, Calif., 390 .
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, 316.
2. Tabasco (1D35), John Wylie, San Diego, 371.
3. Tera's XL (ILC 40), Antony and Daniel Barran, Northridge, Calif., 316.
4. Two Guys On the Edge (1D35M), Dan Doyle, Honolulu, 380 (DH).
5. Hot Tamale (J/120), Tom and Doug Jorgensen, Glendora, Calif., 411.
6. Swept Away (J/120), Louis Bianco, Seattle, 431.
7. Paddy Wagon (Ross 40), Richard Mainland, Marina del Rey, Calif., 355.
8. Cool Man Cool2! (Sydney 38), Harrell Jones, Dana Point, Calif., 439.
9. Krakatoa (Young 32), Rod Skellet, Sydney, Australia, 473.
10. Bolt (Olson 40), Craig Reynolds, Balboa, Calif., 469.
11. Lawndart (Cape Bay Fast 40), Bill Allan, Nanaimo, B.C., 495.

Division 5 (started July 1)

1. Wind Dancer (Catalina 42), Paul Edwards, Wilmington, Del., 53.
2. There and Back Again (Tripp 40), Robert Rice, Long Beach, finished, corrected time 8:12:06:22.
3. Masquerade (Choate 40), Timothy Coker, San Diego, 88.
4. B'Quest (Tripp 40), Challenged America/Urban Miyares, San Diego, 78.

CAL 40 (started July 1)

1. Illusion, Stan and Sally Honey, Palo Alto, 46.
3. Ranger, William Partridge, Richmond, Calif., 141.
3. Seafire, John T. Harrison, Honolulu, 141.
4. Ralphie, Jill and Taylor Pillsbury, Laguna Beach/Eleanor and Davis Pillsbury, Snowmass, Colo., 150.
5. Flying Cloud, Darrell and Scott Wilson, Long Beach, 161.
6. Celebrity, Gerald Finnegan, Redondo Beach, Calif., 193.
7. . California Girl, Don and Betty Lessley, Point Richmond, Calif., 163.
8. John B, Greg Boyer, Newport Beach, Calif., 189.
9. Willow Wind, Wendy Siegal, Sunset Beach, Calif., 193.
10. Redhead, Andrew Opple, Ketchum, Idaho, 288.

ALOHA DIVISION (started July 1)

Aloha A

1. Between the Sheets (Sun Odyssey 52.2), Ross Pearlman, Calabasas, Calif., finished, CT 8:15:07:00.
2. Incredible (Swan 53), Rick Gorman, Los Alamitos, Calif., finished, CT 8:22:00:16.
3. Enchanted Lady (Roberts 55 ketch), Andy Sibert, Seal Beach, Calif., 56.
4. Beautiful Day (Beneteau 47.7), William Boyd, San Diego, finished, CT 9:01:40:16.
5. Axapac (Wylie 39), Barry Ruff, Vancouver, B.C., 73.
6. Marla R (Beneteau 50), Jon Richards, Mesa, Ariz., 8.
7. Lady Bleu II (Dynamique 62), Roger and Brenda Kuske, San Diego, finished, CT 9:12:13:40.
8. Beach Music (Tayana 52), Kirby Coryell, Lafayette, Calif., 194 (DH).

Aloha B

1. Barking Spider (Catalina 38), David Kory, Point Richmond, Calif., 254.
2. Sea Dancer (Ericson 35), Alvin Wheatman, Marina del Rey, 441.
3. Pipe Dream (Choate/Feo 37), John Davis, Long Beach, 475. .


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