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Transpac 2023 Live Onboard ‘Westerly’ as the First Boats Finish

The first boats, the MOD 70 Orion and MOD 70 Maserati, have finished the Transpac, while the rest of the fleet slides across the pearlescent blue Pacific as they close in on Hawaii. Orion finished at almost 3 a.m. on Thursday in a time of 4 days 17 hours 48 minutes. This means they took the win over Maserati, who finished at 0855, meaning Maserati gets the Sharon Green photos! Their classmate Argo did retire with engine problems, went home and fixed them, and has rejoined the fleet on the tracker with 1,000 miles still to go.

Maserati heads down the Molokai Channel
Maserati rocks down the Molokai Channel for her morning-light finish.
© 2023 Transpac / Sharon Green

The wind gods favored the Tuesday starters with steady breezes to break away from the California coastline, and they appear to have been gifted with stronger breezes all the way across. After a slow exit from the coast, the Saturday starters are still far behind and trying to escape a plague of lighter airs that are following them to Hawaii. Dean Treadway’s Farr 36 Sweet Okole has 563 miles to go and is traveling at 7.5 knots, while Roy Disney’s Andrews 68 Pyewacket has 1,000 miles to go and is traveling at a modest 11 knots. Manouch Moshayedi’s mighty Rio 100 has been able to move out of the slow blue blobs on the tracker and into the steady green breeze, to leave most of the Saturday starters behind.

Our friends aboard the Santa Cruz 52 Westerly were having such a great day yesterday, just 500 miles from the finish, that they dialed in to see if we could jump on for a spontaneous Transpac Live broadcast. We did, and managed our best Starlink connection of the trip as we got a taste of the champagne sailing every Transpac racer raves about. The gray, cool, bouncy gloom of the coast is gone and replaced by bright-blue skies and water, and warm breezes. While they’re racing to the finish, this is the part you wish would never end.

Thursday July 6 Transpac Live from aboard Dave Moore’s Santa Cruz 52 Westerly.

As we’re in the Plastic-Free month of July, Steve Sellinger’s Santa Cruz 52 Triumph reported, “We have avoided an insane amount of debris in the ocean, which [neither] I nor anyone onboard has ever seen. Mostly plastic, along with rope and fishing nets. We have snagged at least two more and had to stop and back down the boat in 20 knots. Another boat reported today a “couch-sized submerged object” and suggested everyone be on the lookout. It’s nearly impossible to avoid this as we move at 10-14 knots, but we can try. As I write this, Michael reported we are dragging net on the rudder. Well, *&^#. This ocean has become a trash can for someone. Sad. We will be backing down again or sending someone over.”

Many other boats have reported plastics and debris and, like Triumph, have had to stop racing to back their boats down to dislodge debris from keels and rudders.

The MOD 70 Orion crew of Cam Lewis, Matt Noble, Hogan Beatie, Justin Shaffer, Paul Allen and Morgan Larson are looking fresh after an under-five-day blitz from California to Hawaii.
© 2023 Mark Brouch

With the MOD 70s finished, the next big question is who the first monohull will be. They all have to run the Molokai Channel before they get to the Mai Tais from their hosts in the Ala Wai, so they’re all converging on the finishing “rum line” toward Diamond Head. Right now, it’s looking as if the betting money is on Bill McKinley’s Ker 46+ Denali 3, as she surfs along at 12.5 knots with less than 250 miles to go. She started in the Ocean Navigator Division 4 group last Thursday and is staying well ahead of the Saturday starters, who remain in lighter air behind. Normally, many of those Saturday starters would be rapidly surfing up and passing the earlier fleets, but this doesn’t appear to be the year.

Yellow Brick Transpac
It’s better to be in the bright green on the left than the pale blue on the right.
© 2023 Transpac/YellowBrick

We just “hung up” from another Transpac Live broadcast with Westerly, and the scenery looked just about the same as yesterday’s. A couple of hundred miles closer to Hawaii the sunny, blue-sky sailing looks the same, but the focus of the crew feels different as the intensity increases on approach. Andy Schwenk’s heavily “redacted” commentary avoided sharing speed, course, direction and sail plan so as not to give any hints to competitors behind. But the sailing looks awesome! They join later in the broadcast below.

Friday, July 7, Transpac Live from aboard Westerly. 

The next few days will be busy for the Transpac Race committee and the many volunteers and families waiting for the fleet’s arrival. Mai Tais, hot showers, and razor blades will come out to clean up the crew and reward them all at the end of the renowned 2,225-mile course to Hawaii, first raced in 1906. We’re hoping to do one more Transpac Live with the Westerly crew once they finish and are safely ashore. You can follow all the racers on the Transpac tracker here.

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1 Comment

  1. Memo Gidley 1 year ago

    Thanks for all the great coverage Lectronic Latitude 38! It’s been fun to see all the updates and video!

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