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Breeze-on Start for Singlehanded Transpacific Yacht Race

In the midst of a heat wave, the 2021 Singlehanded Transpacific Yacht Race started in fog and wind on Saturday, June 19.

Siren with reef in main
With reefed main and partially furled genoa, Brendan Huffman’s Los Angeles-based Santa Cruz 33 Siren sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge en route to Hawaii.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Although the ‘Richmond Riviera’ weather lived up to the name, just a few miles away the Slot and the Gate dished out plenty of overcast, chilly breeze and ebb chop. Many of the boats exited the Bay with shortened mains and smaller or partially furled headsails. Skip Allan had given the weather briefing at the skippers’ meeting and indicated that they might find light air for a time outside the Gate, that no tropical storms were developing, and that the Pacific High was well positioned to the north and should not stand in the way of the fleet’s progress toward Hanalei Bay on the north shore of Kauai.

Wood dodger
On Friday evening, John Wilkerson showed us his home-built dodger on Perplexity. He made it from U-Ply flooring because it’s light and cheap. He says there are about 14 Express 37s in the Pacific Northwest.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

The fleet has three weeks to get there; the deadline and awards ceremony will be on Saturday, July 10. Another pandemic adjustment: None of the facilities on Kauai were able to commit to hosting such a large gathering, so the final celebration may end up being a more casual beach party.

Cliff Shaw has the multihull trophy all locked up, as long as he finishes within the time limit. He’s sailing the Crowther 10M catamaran Rainbow in his third SHTP. He was perhaps the most relaxed of the skippers we visited on Saturday morning.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

The race had been postponed a year due to the difficulty of travel during the pandemic last year. Many adjustments due to COVID continued this year. For instance, the skippers from British Columbia were unable to go. The initial list of entries whittled down from 23 to the final count of 11, all Americans, all men, and almost all monohulls.

11 solo skippers with yellow Latitude hats
The 2021 solo skippers. Back row, left to right: Falk Meissner, Kyle Vanderspek, Reed Bernhardt, Jim Quanci, John Wilkerson, Cliff Shaw, Brendan Huffman. Front row: Will Lee, Robb Walker, Bill Stange, James Wylly. Latitude 38 gave each of them a hat.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Another change: Instead of sequestering and starting off Corinthian Yacht Club in Tiburon, the fleet started off Golden Gate YC in San Francisco. Richmond YC hosted the skippers’ meeting and Aloha Luncheon on Friday, June 18. And they welcomed the out-of-town boats to stay in their harbor. Four came from the Seattle area and two from Southern California.

Northern Star leaves RYC
James Wylly backs Sabre 426 Northern Star out of RYC’s C Dock on Saturday morning.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris
Hula, Westsail 32
The Washington-based Westsail 32 Hula departs RYC on Saturday morning. Bill Stange is doing his second SHTP. He won his first, in 1988, aboard a slightly different sort of boat — an Olson 30.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

As of this morning, the tracker on Jibeset shows good progress to the west. John Wilkerson’s Express 37 Perplexity is the farthest north, Cliff Shaw’s Crowther 10M catamaran Rainbow is farthest south, and Reed Bernhardt’s J/109 Mountain appears to have the lead.

Sailing out the Gate on jib only does not appear to have hurt Mountain in the standings.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Jim Quanci on the Cal 40 Green Buffalo reported yesterday that he’d “been popping Bonine twice a day so feeling good — but that may say more about the modest sea state. I try to hold off for ‘real food’ to Day 3 when I know seasickness will have passed.” He also reported warming temperatures despite continued overcast.

Robb, Jim and Mary
Before leaving their side-by-side slips at RYC, Cal 40 sailors Robb Walker and Jim Quanci posed for one last picture. Jim’s wife, Mary Lovely, is snapping the shot on her phone.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Will Lee on the beautiful red Hinckley 42 Sea Wisdom reported 20-25 knots at the start. He reefed his main. “The initial passage was a wet one. I had water coming in through the closed hatches. I saw that the bilge light was on. But the bilge pump was not pumping any water. The bilge pump was relatively new. Good thing that I carried the old bilge pump as a spare. There is no way I would want to keep sailing if there is no electric bilge pump. Changing the bilge pump at sea at the Farallones was not an easy task because I haven’t gotten my sea legs yet. The pump was buried deep in the boat. I had to do some acrobatic moves to replace it.” It took Will three hours to do the replacement.

The Lee family
Will Lee with his wife Chloe and daughter Allison at the Aloha Luncheon on Friday.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

For more posts from the racers, see the Singlehanded Sailing Society forum. Learn more about the fleet in the June issue of Latitude 38, and also see

1 Comment

  1. Dennis Maggard 3 years ago

    Congrats to the fleet on a great start! I’m here on S/V Pamela in Hanalei Bay, and have this report for you all: it’s paradise!

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