Nearly two days after Division E’s first finisher crossed the line off Kaneohe Bay, Chris Calkins and Norm Reynolds’ Sabrina rolled into Hawaii, correcting out to a division win by a mere hour-and-a-half. When they arrived at the dock, the crew of the San Diego-based Calkins 50 were confronted with the question, "which pointy end should we put the boat lei on?" If you were walking the dock and didn’t know what you were looking for, a nearly 50-year old double-ender with impromptu fish flags flying above the large pilothouse, copious brightwork, and pushpit-mounted barbecue would probably not automatically register as "the boat that beat the boat that beat the only Volvo Ocean Race veteran in the division."
If sailing the race with his kids was the realization of a "dream" for Paul Cayard, it was the realization of a ‘dream deferred’ for Calkins, whose father Skip designed the boat in 1958. In 1967 the elder Calkins invited his son — who was preparing to go off to law school — to sail in the Transpac. He declined the invitation, thinking that "I’d just do the next one." A career took over before that could happen, but the desire to sail the race never abated. "I always felt bad about not doing it."
Fast forward to 2007. Calkins owned a sistership, Kathleen, and wanted to do the race. He and a third boat partner who didn’t sail this race, yacht designer Doug Peterson, looked at updating her appendages but established that it would be too costly. Serendipitiously, Sabrina was on the market, and her owner had made the changes they’d wanted to do. So they purchased the boat along with Reynolds, a veteran of five Transpacs. "He’s the guy," Calkins said of his partner. "He’s the skipper, and the one responsible for this." Their first outing ended in an early exit from the slow 2007 Transpac, but by the time March of 2008 rolled around, the classic yacht had added an overall win in the Corona Del Mar to Cabo race. The group stayed on that roll all the way to Kaneohe Bay, and probably one of the more commodious trips of the race.
"It’s a cruisey boat," Calkins said. "It seems like yacht racing has gone in a direction of professionalism. It’s less about the experience and the voyaging. We had a great trip, we caught 7 mahi mahi and had five cases of wine on board — but we were still doing a consistent 12-15 knots with the spinnaker up."
Andy Hamilton’s Santa Cruz-based Moore 24 Bar-ba-loot crushed Doublehanded 2 with the Bay Area’s Sarah Deeds aboard. Sitting on 13-14 knots of boatspeed in a massive squall and winning Doublehanded 2 were welcome rewards for the preparation involved for doing the race, but there was another.
"It was pretty cool," said Hamilton, an engineer at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute who’s staying aboard his boat while in Hawaii. "I didn’t think about anything other than sailing the boat the entire time. When do you get to do that?"
For Nathalie Criou and Nathan Bossett on Criou’s Express 27 Elise, a broken forestay and a mast step pin that worked its way out of the hinge on the step on day four meant slowing way down until the pair gained confidence in their repairs.
"From a racing standpoint it was pretty disappointing because we were in second at the time," Criou said. "But from the standpoint of adventure it was really awesome."
Although we weren’t able to confirm it, we were told that the Henderson 30 Buzz Off sailed here under storm trysail after their main blew up — off the Farallones! Being a Hawaiian entry, it wasn’t like they had another sail waiting on the dock, and decided to just tough it out anyway. We’ll look into that for September’s Latitude 38.