As of this writing, the results from the 48th edition of the Transpac race from Los Angeles to Honolulu are beginning to come into focus, with more than half of the fleet now having reached the finish line off Diamond Head.
While the results shown on the race’s Yellowbrick tracker are not official, and are subject to race committee-imposed time penalties, corrections and amendments if applicable, it looks as if James McDowell’s Santa Cruz 70 Grand Illusion has won overall handicap honors with fellow ‘sled’ Pyewacket in second overall, while third place remains too difficult to call at this time. The McDowell family has now been campaigning their classic ultra-light maxi yacht for decades with two previous overall wins in the Transpac to show for their efforts, collecting the King Kalakaua Trophy in both 1999 and 2011. Both the crew and the boat are timeless, and we’ll bet they’ll party like it’s 1999 all over again tonight in Waikiki to celebrate a job well done.
The Division 1 picture has also become more clear with all three boats finishing over the weekend. Some 20 hours off Alfa Romeo II’s record pace from 2009, Australian super-maxi Wild Oats XI, chartered for this race by Roy Pat Disney, has finished the 2015 Transpac in 6d, 10h, 37m to collect Division 1 line honors, Division 1’s corrected-time victory, and also the Merlin Trophy for fastest-elapsed time in fleet. Third over the line in Division 1 was Manouch Moshayedi’s rebuilt Bakewell-White 100 Rio100, which will also pick up some serious hardware by winning the prestigious Barn Door Trophy for fastest elapsed time for a ‘traditional’ fixed-keel boat without powered assistance. (Wild Oats XI and Ragamuffin 100, which have canting keels and powered winches, are ineligible for this prize). Rio100 corrected out over Ragamuffin 100 to claim second in Division 1.
Pat Benz’ distinctive lime-green and highly-modified Gunboat 66 Extreme H2O was the first multihull to finish the race, with Lloyd Thornburg’s closer-to-stock GB66 sistership Phaedo coming in some nine hours later, though unofficially correcting out to take Division 0 honors.
While Divisions 0 (Phaedo), 1 (Wild Oats XI), 3 (Grand Illusion), 7 (Celerity) and 8 (Marjorie) look to be all sealed up, there’s still a lot to play for in the 2015 Transpac. TP52 Bolt (formerly Rosebud) is in command of Division 2 and nearing the finish while the J/125 Hamachi appears to have Division 4 under control. The Santa Cruz 50s and 52s in Division 5 are about a day out with the top 3 boats currently correcting out within one hour of each other, while Division 6 has a lot of race track left and is still wide open.
Stereotypically variable English summer weather dampened — and shortened — the first regatta in the 35th America’s Cup cycle over the weekend. Held on the Solent in Portsmouth on England’s south coast, the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series was sailed in one-design wingsail foiling AC45 catamarans. This was the first America’s Cup racing on the Solent in nearly 165 years.
After two practice races on Friday in the rain, the sun made an appearance through the clouds for the two real races on Saturday. A northwesterly breeze of 10-14 knots provided marginal foiling conditions and put an emphasis on boat handling, sail choice, and tactics.
The hosting team, Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing, won the first race and Emirates Team New Zealand the second race. "It was a great day for us to be able to put together a good start and a run in both races and be in the lead at the bottom mark in both races," said the Kiwi team’s new skipper, Peter Burling. "We’re pretty green in these foiling boats, so we’re happy to come out of the day in the shape we’re in." The San Francisco team, Cup defenders Oracle Team USA, ended the afternoon in third position, with second and fourth place finishes.
Ainslie described the first race as a tough one. "We had a good start and then got a bit lost on that first downwind leg, but the guys did a great job to get the Code Zero — the downwind sail — up pretty quick, and that pulled us through. Then Giles Scott, our tactician, really sailed well with the wind shifts, and great crew work from the guys to get us into a nice lead and hold on into the finish."
Local fans must have been disappointed when extreme winds, with gusts to 37 knots, forced the cancellation of racing on Sunday, but that letdown was tempered by the victory of their team.
Back in the States, the new AC+ app met with mixed reviews. If Americans wanted to watch the races, they had to pay for the app and use it only on an iOS or Android device — the races were not streamed online or broadcast here. NBC has the TV rights here, and they chose not to cover the event live, yet their rights block the America’s Cup website from streaming live video. NBC Sports Network will show highlights tomorrow night (Tuesday, July 28) and on August 4 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. PDT.
The next ACWS stop will be Gothenburg, Sweden, the homeport of Artemis Racing, on August 27-30.
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An otherwise unidentified 31-ft sailboat from the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor got stuck on a reef at the Rockpile surf spot just outside the marina on Saturday night around 9 p.m. Richard Langdon, who was in town to cover the arrival of Lloyd Thornburg’s Gunboat 66 Phaedo, happened to be on the spot and took the accompanying photo.
The Honolulu Advertiser reported that the two people aboard the sailboat disembarked safely, and that a salvage company worked the following day to try to get the boat off. Given the size of the surf, that had to be tricky.
The south shore of Oahu has been hit by large surf since at least Friday, just as the 50+ boats from the Transpac have been arriving. The National Weather Service reported 8- to 12-ft surf along the south shore on Sunday, with slightly decreasing surf today and tomorrow.
In a much worse tragedy, two soldiers were swept from the rocks near the Halona Beach Cove Saturday afternoon and drowned. Lifeguards had to rescue 147 other ocean swimmers, and issued more than 4,000 warnings.
Hawaii is gorgeous, but the ocean can be very dangerous when the surf is up.