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July 12, 2023

A Fast Finish and a Record Broken in the Singlehanded Transpacific Race

Well, that went fast. The Singlehanded Transpacific Yacht Race started from Golden Gate Yacht Club on June 25. The 16 finishers began arriving in Hawaii on Friday evening, July 7. By Tuesday evening (yesterday), they were all in. Although overall monohull records were not broken (and no multihulls entered this year), at least one record did fall.

Cal 40 sailors Jim Quanci on Green Buffalo and Michael Polkabla on Solstice were #1 and #3 into Hanalei Bay, but they didn’t quite top Stan Honey’s Cal 40 record. The great navigator-to-be completed the race in 11 days and 10 hours in 1994. Jim and Michael sailed the course in 12 days and change this year — still an amazing accomplishment for 60-ish-year-old boats rated 114 sailed by 60-ish-year-old skippers.

John Wilkerson and Jim Quanci
The first two finishers, John Wilkerson and Jim Quanci, go ashore on Friday night aboard the race committee’s rented shore boat. John sailed the Express 37 Perplexity. John and Jim both also completed the 2021 edition. (And Jim won overall in 2012.)
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

OK, so no overall record and no Cal 40 record. So what record was broken? Not only was the Westsail 32 record broken, but all three Westsailors in the race, including the guy with the banged-up knee, broke it. The previous Westsail record goes all the way back to the first year of the race, 1978. Michael Linter set and held his class record of 16 days for 45 years (!) aboard My Star.

Randy Leasure hugs a tree
Randy Leasure of the Westsail 32 Tortuga steps ashore at Black Pot Beach and hugs a tree.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

The new elapsed-time record for the Westsail 32 goes to Bill Stange aboard Hula. He finished in 14 days and 20 hours. Gary Burton, sailing Elizabeth Ann, finished close behind Hula; because the ratings of the Westsail vary a bit due to different optimizations, Elizabeth Ann actually corrects out above Hula for third place overall and a division win. A Cal 2-34 and a Beneteau First 305 round out the slow-boat division. Piyush Arora’s Beneteau Horizon was the final boat in.

Elizabeth Ann anchored
Gary Burton aboard the Westsail 32 Elizabeth Ann anchored in Hanalei Bay on the north shore of Kauai.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

A remarkable number of finishers sailed into Hanalei Bay in the dusk or dark. The first four finishers came in Friday night/Saturday morning, a challenge for the sailors finding their way into the anchorage and for the volunteers guiding them. The race committee barely had time to launch the chase boat in time to greet Jim Quanci.

Kim Mulvihill paddled out to meet her husband Sean aboard the J/120 Jamani, the fourth boat to finish.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Wondering what the overall records are (maybe you could break them)?

  • The late great record-setter/breaker Steve Fossett holds the multihull record with the VLP trimaran Lakota. Set in 1998, Steve’s record is 7 days, 22 hours, 38 minutes, 26 seconds.
  • Alex Mehran holds the monohull record, set in 2012, aboard the Open 50 Truth. The time to beat is 08:12:21:00. Remember that these are all singlehanders, and the course is approximately 2,120 miles (though that’s not necessarily the official distance).
Christophe Desage waves
Christophe Desage finished on Monday aboard the Xc 42 Elmach. The Frenchman, who now lives in British Columbia, had the one international entry in the event.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

We’ll have much more in the August issue of Latitude 38. In the meantime, check out these links:

Keep in mind that the times shown are in Pacific Daylight Time, not Hawaii Standard Time. There’s a three-hour difference.

Good Jibes #98: Live From the 2023 Transpac Aboard ‘Westerly’

This week’s hosts, John Arndt and Nicki Bennett, are joined by the winning Westerly crew LIVE from the 2023 Transpacific Yacht Race! Hear Santa Cruz 52 owner Dave Moore, watch captain Andy Schwenk, and support crew lead Jessica Offenberger in real time on Days 1, 8, and 9 of their triumphant Transpac journey.

Good Jibes #98 Westerly crew
The weather looks good in this pic., but how did they handle mid-ocean squalls?
© 2023 S/v Westerly

Hear the crew answer questions from Latitude 38 readers, share how they divide up their tasks, what’s different about their boat and the race from previous years, how to stay safe in the middle of the Pacific, and share stories of the beautiful flying fish, whales, and other sea life they’ve been able to say hello to on their way to victory.

This episode covers everything from not shaving to how far away the horizon is. Here’s a small sample:

  • How was Westerly’s start?
  • What was their goal for this race?
  • Has Andy Dippel always been so handsome?
  • Who’s in charge of cooking?
  • How do you manage squalls?
  • What’s different vs. previous Transpacs?
  • Are they seeing any boats?
  • What was their best guess for a finish time?

Watch the livestreams at

Listen to the episode on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts, and your other favorite podcast spots — follow and leave a 5-star review if you’re feeling the Good Jibes!

This episode is brought to you by EWOL propellers. Learn more at

Is the CrossWater Horizontal Elevator an Alternative to the Oakland Pedestrian Bridge?

Faced with the concept of an expensive, marine traffic-limiting drawbridge between Oakland and Alameda to help pedestrians and bicyclists cross the 1,000 feet between the two municipalities, sailors, marinas and yacht clubs in the Oakland Estuary have chimed in with a variety of alternative ideas. Suggestions include a simple ferry system, improvements to the Alameda Tube, improving the bike paths along the Oakland side of the Estuary so that bicyclists would feel safe and inspired to use the Park Street Bridge, or construction of a very high bridge that would not impede boat traffic.

A recent article in The Optimist Daily highlighted a creative idea that would fit right in with the Bay Area’s progressive, innovative, high-tech culture. An autonomous, electric water-crossing transport system by CrossWater, still in the development phase in Europe, looks as if it could satisfy the needs of sailors, the Coast Guard, bicyclists and pedestrians. The devil is always in the details, but the conceptually simple idea developed by CrossWater is like a horizontal elevator without cables. Improvements in battery technology, apps, autonomous vehicles, electric propulsion and more allow us to look at old problems in new ways.

For bicycle- and sailing-crazed Europe, it looks like an ideal solution. Europe, from Holland to the Med, has a beautiful and well-developed canal system for commerce and pleasure. Bridges create barriers for both. A solution that allows the easy passage of boats, bicycles and pedestrians looks like a more people- and budget-friendly option for all. Since sailors, bicyclists and pedestrians are often the same, could it possibly please all? Unfortunately, there does not appear to be a prototype in operation, so whether this company is the provider, or another innovator developing low-carbon, sustainable water transport comes up with an alternative, we are living in an era where we’re all looking for innovation to help solve our shared challenges.

Fakarava Atoll: Life Underwater in the Pacific and the Bay

Despite all the time sailors spend on the surface, which is where a sailboat is meant to be, we’re always curious about what’s going on beneath our keels. We avoid reefs while sailing, but they’re also a destination for diving. The dramatic ebb and flow of climate news above sea level heightens our concern for events below the surface.

Bruce Balan on the Cross 40 trimaran Migration recently sent in a couple of photos from Fakarava Atoll, where he reported, “We are at the south pass of Fakarava for the grouper spawning. Absolutely amazing the number of fish that gather! Windy and a bit rough conditions, but worth it.” Did reduced traffic during the pandemic help replenish stocks?

Fakarava Atoll
South Pacific cruising destinations have come back to life for cruisers, and undersea life continues to amaze.
© 2023 Alene D. Rice & Bruce Balan

Pacific Puddle Jump cruisers have crossed the pond to the Marquesas, and many are headed to the upcoming Tahiti Moorea Sailing Rendez-vous, July 21–24. Boats are on the move, harbors are loosening up, and reef diving beckons more cruisers west. It’s all possible as the South Pacific has reopened to cruising after grinding to a halt during the pandemic.

Fakarava Atoll
The grouper were looking good during Bruce and Alene’s recent visit.
© 2023 Alene D. Rice & Bruce Balan

Closer to home, we were walking the docks Sunday, looking at the exposed rocks during the morning’s very low tide. We suddenly noticed there were absolutely zero crabs tucking themselves into the breakwater, right where our kids used to give them futile chase 20 years ago. Where are the crabs? Is this a normal cycle of nature, or have these quick creatures disappeared for some other reason? Did the many seals and sea lions we saw on the docks in Ayala Cove eat them? Is there a new predator in town?

The breakwater is a perch for great blue herons and black-crowned night herons, and there are lots more pelicans around. Are the crabs a victim of overfishing by birds, or do our untrained eyes not know the right season to be looking?

Where are the crabs?
It’s hard to spot what’s missing, but these rocks used to be covered with crabs.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

In the wake of the 2023 closure of California salmon fishing, the Golden Gate Salmon Association has called out legislators to rebalance water flows and restore the freshwater flows to rivers to allow the salmon fishery to recover. It’s hard to know how all these things might be related, but the ongoing shocks to the earth’s ecosystem appear more dramatic than ever. Have you noticed any changes. for good or bad?

Following the Yellow Brick Road
We've been following the Transpac fleet down the yellow brick road to Hawaii, and with over 50% of the fleet now in, the results are becoming clear as fresh batches of Mai Tais are served.
Sailing Blind
Starlink is launching a new era for sailors. Like people on shore, sailors are debating the value of advancing technology's place in our lives, and how to incorporate time in the virtual world with time in the real world.