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Singlehanded Transpacific Race — That’s a Wrap!

Between the time we last posted on ‘Lectronic Latitude on Friday, July 3, and this morning, all 11 boats finished the 2021 Singlehanded Transpacific Yacht Race. They did so at all hours, with a variety of sail configurations and a range of equipment problems.

July 3

On July 3, the first to arrive — by more than 26 hours — was Kyle Vanderspek on the Hobie 33 Aloha. Having lost his forestay, he finished on staysail and main. Despite his troubles (“What didn’t break?” he quipped), he’ll be declared the overall (monohull) winner of the 22nd edition of this race from San Francisco Bay to Hanalei Bay.

Kyle Vanderspek drops the sails on Aloha shortly after finishing on July 3. What looks like a forestay is actually a halyard.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

July 4

The very next day, Kyle departed Hanalei with orange storm jib hoisted, bound for Oahu, where he would put the Hobie onto a ship. Kyle is missing all the social activities, as he has to be back in SoCal ASAP. Ten days from today, he’ll sail back to Hawaii as navigator on the Andrews 63 Medicine Man in the Transpac Race from San Pedro to Honolulu.

Tree Time group
Cruising Club of America members at Tree Time on Monday. Left to right: Mary Lovely, Jim Quanci, Fred Huffman (Brendan’s dad), Brendan Huffman, Robb Walker and Rowena Carlson. Jim is also the commodore of Pacific Cup Yacht Club, and Rowena is its vice commodore. (Not shown: Synthia Petroka — because she was busy driving the chase boat.) Tree Time is an early-evening DIY happy hour.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Nipping at Aloha’s heels (on corrected time) was Robb Walker’s Cal 40 Nozomi. Also finishing on July 4 were Reed Bernhard on the J/109 Mountain, and toward sunset, Jim Quanci on the Cal 40 Green Buffalo. While Nozomi had a relatively trouble-free race, Green Buffalo arrived with a long section of mainsail slugs pulled out of the track, among other gear problems.

Coming in after dark on the 4th — and within several minutes of each other — were Brendan Huffman on the Santa Cruz 33 Siren and John Wilkerson on the Express 37 Perplexity. “I have a request,” wrote John in a message to the race committee. “Would it be too much trouble to ask the people of Kauai to celebrate my accomplishment with fireworks? I think it would make for a spectacular arrival. I do understand the effort and cost involved. Thank you for considering my request!”

July 5

Cliff Shaw on the Crowther 10M Rainbow came in midday on Monday. He was the only one to finish under spinnaker. He’d had it up for 10 days straight! The major gear failure on Rainbow was the loss of both weatherfax computers.

Rainbow with green spinnaker
It’s a reaching finish. Rainbow was the only multihull in the race.

Finishing in a squall that night was the smallest boat in the fleet, Falk Meissner’s Olson 25 Shark on Bluegrass. That morning he had sent the message, “70 miles to go. Overdid it last night, shredded another spin.”

July 6

Yesterday, July 6, was the day of the wraps. Bill Stange’s Westsail 32 Hula finished in the morning with a spinnaker wrapped around the forestay. What was left of the spinnaker was still acting like a kite, and Bill had to spin circles in the bay to wrap it up enough that he could anchor. He and his wife Darlene spent the rest of the day cutting the spinnaker away.

Hula's 'kite'
From a distance the spinnaker on Hula resembled a kiteboarder’s kite.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

James Wylly’s beautiful Sabre 426 Northern Star arrived in the late afternoon with a very similar wrap, though this one was already doing no good as a sail. Jamie had sailed with it that way — with no headsail — for 700 miles.

Northern Star
Northern Star, seen here dropping the main shortly after finishing in a persistent rainstorm, was no longer deriving power from the wrapped spinnaker.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Last and with the most concerning gear failure, Will Lee’s Hinckley 42 Sou’wester Competition Sloop Sea Wisdom suffered rudder bearing troubles. At one point yesterday, he was considering bypassing the finish and going directly to Nawiliwili on the other side of Kauai, where there’s a shipping port and therefore marine services. But finish he did, in the middle of the night.

So, that’s a wrap — all that’s left are a few more Tree Times, culminating in the awards ceremony this Saturday. Due to ongoing COVID restrictions on large gatherings, we’re not yet sure where that’s going to be.


  1. Terri Lahey 3 years ago

    Congratulations Falk Meissner (Shark on Bluegrass) from the Olson 25 fleet!

  2. David Hume 3 years ago

    July 8th, large gathering restrictions will be lifted. I hope everyone has a fun party, Aloha.

  3. Chuck cunning 3 years ago

    Congratulations to all! What a great achievement! Special fist bump to Jim Quanci and Green Buffalo.

  4. Jan Passion 3 years ago

    FYI – not sure how y’all got this wrong, but Cliff Shaw was not sailing a Gemini – it was a Crowther 10M
    Congrats to all!

  5. Bill Sweeney 3 years ago

    Mission Bay Yacht Club is super proud of Kyle Vanderspek. Awesome job Kyle!

  6. Tony Bourque 3 years ago

    Great race everyone! So impressed as always at how much good sportsmanship and camaraderie a bunch of solo sailors display!

  7. Jim Gregory 3 years ago

    Congratulations to all. What an accomplishment and only those of you that have done it real understand the challenge!! Well done!!

  8. robert cleveland 3 years ago

    I believe the catamaran is a Crowther not a Gemini

  9. Van L Barr 3 years ago

    Kyle Vanderspek is a star. What a trip and achievement. Smoked the competition and finished a day plus all others. Eleven boats and he was number ONE. OUTStanding, congratulations!! MBYC young sailors rule. Kyle is an example to us all. Proud to know him.

  10. Patrick Hind-Smith 3 years ago

    Congrats to Berkeley YC Staff Commodore Falk Meissner . We are all super proud of you and happy that you fulfilled one of your dreams .
    Einfach Lieben!!!

  11. Sharon Eucce 3 years ago

    ? Congratulations to all! Special congrats to Kyle – it was so great to follow along.
    ⛵ Mission Bay Yacht Club proud!⛵

  12. Marianne Wheeler 3 years ago

    Yes, Einfach Lieben und Leben!
    Congratulations to all you wonderful single handers!

  13. Christine Weaver 3 years ago

    Robert Cleveland and Jan Passion are correct that Rainbow is a Crowther not a Gemini. We have made that correction in the text of the story. Also, it should be noted that Rainbow corrected out to first overall, above Aloha, if you score multihulls and monohulls together. See overall results here:

  14. Emil Giese 3 years ago

    Fireworks bigtime in Hanalei Bay on the 4th welcoming solo Transpac! Suggestion on spinnaker wraps (2 sailboats): use snuffing socks and avert the damn wraps! Easy to deploy with little chance of wrapping!!

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