The Singlehanded Sailing Society’s LongPac Race, which began this morning, is arguably the most unusual contest on San Francisco Bay’s annual sailing calendar.
Not only do competitors in its single- and doublehanded divisions have to race 400 miles — a remarkable distance compared to other Bay Area races — but the course takes them 200 miles offshore to. . . nowhere in particular, and back again. For singlehanders, of course, the LongPac (Great Pacific Longitude Race) serves as a qualifier for next year’s Singlehanded TransPac race to Hawaii. Rules dictate that all entrants must cross longitude 126°40′ W — anywhere along it — before returning to the Bay.
The starts began this morning at 11:00 a.m. off the Golden Gate YC, with 17 solo sailors and 9 doublehanded teams. They’ll finish at the same spot. A new twist this year is that each boat will carry a transponder for the first time and, with any luck, position reports should be available on the SSS site. However, because use of this technology is a first attempt in this context, committee members caution casual observers not to become overly alarmed if a particular boat’s position is not appropriately updated. Quirks have occurred in previous races using similar technology. Look for further details on the LongPac in the September edition of Latitude 38. The August edition, by the way, will hit the streets Friday.