Photo: Doug Gifford / Ultimate Sailing

Ragamuffin 100 fastest monohull

First singlehulled arrivals in the Transpac

Saturday July 20th 2013, Author: James Boyd, Location: United States

At 18:17:26 today local Hawaii time, Syd Fischer’s Elliott 100 Ragamuffin 100 crossed the finish line at Diamond Head to be the fastest monohull to complete the 2225-mile course in the 2013 Transpac.

For this feat Ragamuffin and her crew of 20 will be awarded the Merlin Trophy, dedicated in 2009 by Trisha Steele and named for the Bill Lee-designed and built boat that in 1977 set a new course record that stood for 20 years and ushered in a new age of high speed offshore race boat design.

Since Ragamuffin has a canting keel, stored power is needed to lift the keel blade, and thus the boat is not eligible for manual power-only elapsed time awards such as the Barn Door Trophy.

After starting nearly one week ago on Saturday, July 13th, at Point Fermin in Los Angeles, the Australian team’s total elapsed time was 6 days 8 hours, 17 minutes, 26 seconds for an average speed over the course of 14.6 knots. This is nearly 18 hours off the existing record set in 2009 by Neville Crichton’s Reichel/Pugh 100 Alfa Romeo II, whose average speed on the course was 16.5 knots.

However Ragamuffin was not the first monohull to finish. Showing a remarkably steady track in their 2225-mile journey from the start in Los Angeles, Bob Hayward’s Seastream 650 Manatea was today the first monohull yacht to cross the finish line here at Diamond Head at 10:10:57 Hawaii time. Having been in the first wave of yachts who started at Point Fermin on Monday, 8 July, the dark blue cruising yacht completed the course in an elapsed time of 11 days 10 minutes 57 seconds.

Designed by Ed Dubois, built in the UK, and extensively re-fitted in California over the past 10 months, Manatea has complex electrical and hydraulic systems to make her a modern comfortable cruising yacht. At 65ft long, these systems and the boat's creature comforts bring her weight in at nearly 40 tons, substantially heavier than most Transpac racing yachts.

However, boat captain and native Hawaiian Bob 'Longy' Schuster, a 35-year veteran of numerous Transpacs and other ocean races, said Manatea performed well when the breeze was over 12 knots.

“Once we got into some breeze, she would move along nicely. Gybing and sail changes took some coordination, and we did break the heavy A4 spinnaker when it went under the boat in one maneuver. But when the breeze lightened enough to where we could fly the A2 we settled into to good solid pace of 9-10 knots.”

Leading Manatea’s Division 8 in corrected time is still the 1932 S&S-designed wood classic Dorade, owned by Matt Brooks, who reported this morning at 0600 PDT that they had clear moonlit skies with patchy clouds, 9-15 knot winds at 050-070° direction and occasional rain squalls. They too are in a match race with their wood-built rival Westward, the Lapworth 50 owned by Sam and Willie Bell. These two are separated by only 5 miles, and will no doubt have a spectacular daylight ride into the finish at this time tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the remaining fleet of Division 4,5 and 6 boats that started in the light air of Thursday, 11 July are making their way in towards Hawaii from the northeast, not far off the rhumb line course many had held throughout the race.

There is, however, one exception: Jeff Urbina’s Santa Cruz 52 Bodacious IV has not only been to the south of their Division 6 rivals for several days now, but they have remained on port gybe to dig even further south, even crossing the pack of ULDB Sleds in Division 3 to become the southernmost boat in the fleet, even in latitude with South Point, the southernmost tip of Hawaii. Navigator John Hoskins has brought the team into this highly-leveraged position over 200 miles south of their adversaries on the hunt for more wind and the opportunity to close the gap with current class leader Horizon, a Santa Cruz 50 owned by Jack Taylor.

The team blog tells the tale: “It may look a little odd that we have taken such a different course, [but] there IS a plan at work here. As we’ve been saying today, we’re “all in!” Our bet has been made … and now it’s a run to the finish! If the inverted trough stays with us and the winds lean our way, we’ll make up some time. If other unplanned variables come into play … and there are ALWAYS unplanned variables when dealing with the wind and weather, then it could very well go a different way. For now though, we’re all jazzed here and betting heavily on John’s experience and talent.”

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