Although this year’s Transpac Tahiti race had to be postponed until 2022, nearly 42,000 ‘armchair racers’ took part in a virtual version of the 4,500-mile competition, vying to break the 11-day record set by Magnitude 80 in 2008.
Although the traditional version of this Los Angeles to Papeete race has never drawn a huge field of contenders, the virtual version, facilitated by Virtualregatta.com, drew more than 9,000 boats crewed by 41,974 virtual racers — and a new (virtual) record was set in the process: 10 days, 3 hours, 22 minutes. The winner was identified as Tigrou26120, a player who has 144 races on Virtual Regatta to his credit.
Among the 150 players from Tahiti, Polynesian skipper Isabelle Bouteiller put in a great performance, taking 40th place, with her virtual boat Teaonui. Another notable Tahitian performance by was by 18-year-old César Villa, who helmed the Tahiti Tourisme boat. He is one of the bright young stars of the Yacht Club of Tahiti, where he learned to sail at the age of 5. The race was also supported by legendary French racer Loïck Peyron and Tahitian Olympic medalist Billy Besson.
“The race aroused real enthusiasm in Tahiti, and the number of players from all over the world exceeded our expectations,” declared Stéphanie Betz. After the big disappointment that we had to cancel the start of the ‘real’ race, for which we have been preparing for two years with the Transpacific Yacht Club in Los Angeles, the success of the Transpac Tahiti conducted on Virtual Regatta makes us even more determined and motivated to make the Transpac Tahiti 2022 a great success, with real racing boats and a new record to beat.
“We are now awaiting the closing of the finish line of the race on June 18 at noon, and the arrival of all the boats to organize the draw that will determine who, among the 9,000 players who beat the historic record, will win the two Air Tahiti Nui plane tickets.”