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Singlehanded Transpacific Yacht Race Encounters Wind Holes

The racers in the Singlehanded Sailing Society’s Singlehanded Transpacific Yacht Race are moving slowly along toward the finish in Hanalei, Kauai. Close to the halfway point after six days and change, Kyle Vanderspek on his Hobie 33 Aloha is leading the fleet of 11 boats so far. But this year’s race is turning into a slow one. The East Pacific High is heading south and splitting up, causing light winds and a minefield of holes on the way to the trade winds.

aerial of Aloha with reefed main
Kyle Vanderspek and his San Diego-based Aloha beat out the Gate with reefed main on Saturday morning, June 19.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Aloha is the only light surfing-style boat in this year’s race and can scoot along in the light breeze compared to the heavyweights like the Cal 40s and J/109. As of this report on Friday morning, Aloha is 61 miles ahead of Jim Quanci on the Cal 40 Green Buffalo, 74 miles ahead of Robb Walker on Nozomi, the other Cal 40, and only 49 miles from Reed Bernhardt on the J/109 Mountain.

Windy with track
The tracker/ overlay as of 7 a.m. PDT today, Friday, June 25. Aloha is the yellow track farthest west and south.
© 2021 Windy

With a light-wind parking lot forming, the others in the back may still have a chance to catch up. While they try, let’s catch up with the messages from the boats.

From Reed: “Greetings from Mountain, where the ship smells of feet and the Captain wishes he smelled half that good. All is well here. Mountain and I are working hard. According to the latest fleet position reports though, so is everyone else! Really fun race so far — just hitting my stride. Taking naps, tweaking the sails, making repairs, enjoying the view.”

Reed Bernhardt and Mountain exit Richmond Yacht Club’s harbor on Saturday morning. They came down the coast from Bainbridge Island, WA.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

From Jim on Green Buffalo: “The sun peeked out today and then went away — four days overcast — getting old. Sardine sandwich for lunch. Thinking tortellini with red sauce for dinner.” Almost a week into the race, it sounds as if Jim’s got his sea legs — and stomach.

Nozomi and Green Buffalo
Cal 40s jousting just east of the Golden Gate Bridge. Robb and Jim are next-door neighbors at Richmond Yacht Club and sometimes sail together. In this race, they’re rivals.
© 2021

From Will Lee on the Hinckley 42 Sea Wisdom after some email communication problems, “Greetings SHTP Race Committee! It seems like my email system likes to function in a light wind area. But I need wind; please send me some.” And the RC’s response? “Dear Sir, We have escalated your complaint to those with higher pay grades.”

Sea Wisdom
Will Lee’s San Francisco-based Sea Wisdom in the sea swell west of the Gate. The swell was only about 6 feet on Saturday morning, but the ebb chop and wind were substantial. Sea Wisdom was among several boats that started with a reef in the main.
© 2021

That same RC will be flying out to the finish line in Kauai next week. They may have to wait a while for the first boat.


  1. milly Biller 3 years ago

    May the breeze pick up for all of you ! Fair winds all !

  2. Elliott James 3 years ago

    Trying to understand the ratings for this race. Where did they get these numbers? Non of them match their phrf certs and seem to be more or less made up with no correlation to the downwind rating or upwind.

    • Christine Weaver 3 years ago

      Hi Elliott, the SHTP race committee assigns SHTP ratings based upon each boat’s PHRF rating. I will ask the race chair what type of math is involved, and what factors are considered in modifying the ratings specifically for this race.

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