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Mixed Fortunes in the Transpac

The Unfortunate Fate of One Boat

Most of the competitors in the 51st Transpac Race from Los Angeles to Honolulu have finished, but one boat was not so lucky. Ironically, that’s the name of the boat — Lucky. According to the US Coast Guard District 14 report, USCG crews took the 72-ft yacht, with 15 sailors aboard, in tow just 26 miles east of Makapu’u Point, Oahu, on Saturday. “The Lucky was adrift due to a disabled rudder. Crews aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry (WPC 1124) and a Station Honolulu 45-ft Response Boat-Medium successfully towed the vessel to Honolulu Harbor.”

Lucky under tow
A USCG cutter tows Lucky the rest of the way to Honolulu.
© 2021 USCG Cutter Oliver Berry

“In 30-knot winds and 10-ft seas we were able to establish a tow with the Lucky and safely brought them back to Honolulu,” said Ensign Michael Meisenger, the operations officer aboard the Oliver Berry.

Lucky’s multinational crew notified Sector Honolulu watchstanders of their situation at 1:32 p.m. on Friday. The rudder had became disabled, and the Judel-Vrolijk 72 was drifting toward Oahu. The sailors aboard had no medical concerns. “After reviewing the situation and determining the mariners were not in immediate danger, watchstanders diverted the crew of the Oliver Berry to conduct a tow operation at 6:45 p.m.,” reported the Coast Guard. “The Oliver Berry and Lucky arrived outside Honolulu at 2:30 a.m., Saturday, and the tow was transferred to the RB-M crew.”

While it’s an extremely lucky boat that makes it from California to Hawaii without some gear failure, it’s fairly unusual for damage to be dire enough to require Coast Guard assistance.

Meanwhile, in the Rest of the Transpac Fleet…

“We’ve had 90% of the fleet finishing in two days, so it’s been manic here,” noted Transpac’s media contact, Dobbs Davis. We can only imagine! As reported in Friday’s ‘Lectronic Latitude, Pyewacket 70 and Ho’okolohe finished on Friday morning. Other than those two, all of the boats arrived between Saturday and Monday morning.

Ho'okolohe crew
The Farr 57 Ho’okolohe led the charge to Oahu. The turbo Volvo 70 Pyewacket passed them on their very last day on the course.
© 2021 Captain Rod Mayer

Because of COVID-19, the trophies are being awarded in stages. Yesterday, in the first of three daily sessions, the top three places in Divisions 1 and 2 were awarded, with Tom Holthus’s Botin 56 Bad Pak winning Division 1 and Doug Baker’s Kernan 68 Peligroso winning Division 2. The first-to-finish monohull Barn Door Trophy was also presented to Roy Disney and his team on Pyewacket.

Holthus’s previous Bad Pak, now Chris Sheehan’s Warrior Won, is projected to be the overall champion in this year’s race.

Fathers and Sons

Dads and sons sailing together has been a theme of this year’s race, as Dobbs Davis reported in his missive to the media last night. Kelly Holthus, 16, sailed aboard Bad Pak with his dad Tom. This was Kelly’s third Transpac since first racing on his dad’s Pac52 of the same name four years ago, and serving — at age 12 — on a class-winning team.

Many other father-son pairs sailed the Transpac this year. John Sangmeister’s twin sons Jack and Peter sailed with him on their Andrews 68 Rock ‘n Roll (ex-Mr. Bill) that John co-skippered with Justin Smart. Michael Dahl, a 20-something, sailed with his brother Sean and his dad David, a partner in the Andrews 77 Compadres team from Newport Beach; Bart and Brett Scott also sailed on Compadres. Jay and Joe Crum raced on Raymond Paul’s Bay Area-based Botin 65 Artemis, and Artemis boat captain Carlos Badell sailed with his son Delmar, who does the bow. We’re not talking about a little kid managing the foredeck. “Delmar is 50 this year,” said Carlos. “I got started early.”

Artemis big splash
Sharon Green took this smashing shot of Artemis at the finish.
© 2021 Sharon Green / Ultimate Sailing

See the complete results here and much more info at We’ll have complete coverage in the September issue of Latitude 38. (The August issue has already gone to press, and will be distributed this Friday.)


  1. skip allan 3 years ago

    Inquiring minds wonder why LUCKY did not deploy their Transpac required alternative steering? It was only 30 miles dead downwind, with no land between, to the Diamond Head finish. Heck, in 1981 RAGTIME sailed the last 100 miles with no rudder, steering with twin jibs, coming down Molokai Channel at 15 knots.. Being self sufficient is in the best tradition of Transpac. The Coastie’s job is to save lives, not rescue property. Were lives in danger by Lucky’s broken rudder?

  2. Chris Clothier 3 years ago

    There are still at least 3 boats still out there!!!!!

    • Christine Weaver 3 years ago

      Chris, all boats were scored with finish times when we posted this story, except for the two scored RET, Denali3 with mast failure soon after starting, and Lucky with rudder failure near the end.

    • Christine Weaver 3 years ago

      Sorry Chris, you were right; I was wrong. Story has been edited and I’ve added a comment about it. Thanks for the correction!

  3. Tony Spooner 3 years ago

    Re the “LUCKY”. 30 ft seas and 10 ft waves doesn’t sound like much fun, but aren’t all entries supposed to have a working emergency rudder? Why was that not tried?

  4. Don Thompson 3 years ago

    Interesting that the Coast Guard towed a boat rather than just rescuing the people on it per normal procedure. This is very unusual isn’t it? I’m not complaining, just perplexed by the policy in the first place.

  5. Tony Spooner 3 years ago

    Is that St. Elmo’s Fire on the masthead or just some reflection?

  6. Christine Weaver 3 years ago

    We have edited this story to correct an earlier version in which we believed that all boats had finished. When we posted this story on Monday morning, July 26, the Yacht Scoring leaderboard listed finish times for all boats still racing. Apparently this was not correct. On Wednesday, July 28, we received the news release about the Tail End Charlie, which finished early that morning: The Olson 40 Live Wire was the last entry to cross the finish line at Diamond Head, finishing this morning [July 28] at 04:35:00 local HST, with an elapsed time of 11 days 18 hours 35 minutes.

  7. Gwyn jennings 3 years ago

    I was hoping to see some mention of
    another Team with a notable father/son connection, that of Div 4 winner (3rd overall) Jack Jennings aboard Pied Piper. He repurchased and refurbished the Santa Cruz 70 his late father Richard Jennings had successfully sailed on the Great Lakes. Jack’s current Transpac crew combined Midwest sailors from his fathers generation as well as his own sailing peers. A wonderful legacy and tribute from father to son and son to father.

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