The second wave of starters in the 51st Transpac Race crossed the line off Point Fermin on Friday. The 15 boats enjoyed a quick getaway, faster than the previous starters on Tuesday. A building westerly breeze of 9-12 knots helped propel the Division 5, 6 and 7 entries off to a fast start on their first leg of the trip, leaving the West End of Catalina to port before leaving California behind, the next landfall being at Diamond Head in Honolulu.
Unfortunately, one team in the Friday fleet will not have the race they’d intended. Just several minutes after the start, spectators nearby reported hearing a loud bang. Bill McKinley’s Ker 46+ Denali3 spun head to wind and dropped their jib on deck. A glance aloft revealed not a broken halyard, but a carbon mast tube crunched and cracked at the splice halfway up the spar.
With the shrouds slack and a pronounced sharp bend at the break, the team managed to get the mainsail down before limping back to Cabrillo Marina, nursing the cracked mast carefully so it did not collapse completely, causing more damage and possible injury to the crew. “Our goal now,” said McKinley, of Harbor Springs, Michigan, “is to stabilize what we have and evaluate our next options.” This is a heartbreaking setback for the crew of nine. Most of the crew were doing their first Transpac.
Powered by the best breeze of the week — 10-15 knots at the start — Saturday’s final 19 entries in four divisions vaulted off the line toward Honolulu, 2,225 miles away. These are the fastest boats in the fleet, sailing in Divisions 1, 2, 3 and 4. They vary from 52 to 77 feet in length, with all expecting a speedy passage ahead.
The current monohull course record, set by the VPLP 100 Comanche in 2017, is 5 days, 1 hour, 55 minutes, 26 seconds. That works out to an average speed of more than 18 knots. “A few days ago, we got excited when the weather models lined up for what looked like it could be a record run,” said Peter Isler on Saturday. Isler is the navigator on Roy Disney’s turbo Volvo 70 Pyewacket 70. “This is less certain now, but it still looks like a fast race ahead if we can get off the coast tonight.”
As of this morning, Cecil and Alyson Rossi’s Marin County-based Farr 57 Ho’okolohe was just past the halfway point. They’re still well in the lead for line honors. Pyewacket 70 is currently in first place in ORR overall. Everyone appears to have solid trade winds for the ride to Oahu, with an elongated Pacific High to the north, and a couple of tropical storm systems — including Hurricane Felicia — to the south. Felicia is rapidly weakening as she moves west, and does not appear to be a threat to the fleet. Follow along at https://yb.tl/transpac2021#.