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Transpac Racers Virtual and Live Crossing the Halfway Point

As the Transpac moves west, the fleet is settling into what they call the slot-car lane — the mostly straight line to Hawaii as the air warms, the trade winds settle in, and the sea turns a turquoise blue. It’s the good times. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing for sailors and navigators to worry about. There is the constant trimming of the kite (“ease/grind”), the moving in, around, or through local squalls, watching for chafe, watching for debris in the water, and timing the next jibe. You also have to eat, sleep and clean up the flying fish.

Transpac Race
The YB tracker shows Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday starters beginning to bunch up in the middle of the Pacific.
© 2023 Transpac / Yellowbrick

Many boats are crossing the halfway point, while Saturday’s starters are still plagued by the lighter winds dodged by most of of the Tuesday/Thursday starters. Most racers are also on the rhumb line or to the north, as the Pacific High is staying out of the way. The MOD 70 Argo dropped out on Sunday due to engine problems that seem to have been solved, so they have decided to restart and sail to Hawaii anyway. Her sisterships Orion (in first) and Maserati are over 1,000 miles ahead and have caught up to Tuesday’s starters.

Cal Maritime Celestial
Looking for the sun amidst the clouds is a chance for cadets from Cal Maritime to use a sextant.
© 2023 Cal Maritime

At the same time that we’re all virtually following the Transpac more closely, due to ever-increasing communications technology, the cadets sailing aboard the Andrews 77 T/S Cal Maritime are practicing their celestial navigation skills by using a sextant as part of their training with the Vallejo-based maritime trade school. With all the improvements in navigational tools, one might wonder why they still teach these old-school methods. Something to ponder.

While sailing at about 7 knots and in a tight battle with her sistership, the Dehler 46 Wings (679 miles to finish), Greg Dorn from the Dehler 46 Favonius (662 miles to finish) found time to send a message in a digital bottle, with a view of life on board:

“The overnight conditions were excellent with a strong northeasterly breeze into the high teens and a following sea state. Except for some passing up-drafting clouds that slowed our boat speed for about 90 minutes. Late in the night as the moon set and the layer of thick clouds obscured any light, we sailed on with only the red repeater data displays to guide us. The common night-sailing expression ‘driving the mine shaft,’ when one can barely see beyond the mast, was fitting. The darkness made the lightning from a distant squall stunning.

“Current sail plan in 15 knots of wind is full main, poled-out A2, and a staysail. We are working hard to extend our lead with an eye on our eventual corrected result. Our labor dispute has resolved itself as we have sailed with the same sail plan for almost 12 hours. Our current forecast finishing date is July 8th, though the time of day is still unclear.

“Ambient temperature is in the mid-80s and tell-tale tropical clouds are appearing on the horizon. The skies are a-clearing with bright sunshine making the ocean a stunning deep blue. Coupled with the occasional flying fish landing aboard, we feel as if we are entering tropical latitudes. As the boat quietly creaks and rolls, down below the sun circularly traverses the saloon, while off-watch crew enjoy a light breeze through recently opened hatches.”

Due to yesterday’s holiday, we don’t a have an episode of Good Jibes for listeners this week, but enabled by Starlink, we just hung up from our latest edition of Transpac Live from onboard the Santa Cruz 52 Westerly, which is heading down the track with just over 800 miles to go before the finish. Once again our connections were a bit wobbly so the broadcast features some interruptions, and they drop off about five minutes into the program; we stayed on for another 10, hoping they’d reconnect, but that didn’t happen. We’ve posted our full episode as we waited patiently for them to reconnect, but now, the next time we talk with Westerly will be 11 a.m. on Friday, when they should be nearing the Molokai Channel on the final run to Diamond Head. That’s usually a pretty exciting portion of the race, so we’ll see if they have the personal and digital bandwidth to get on for another update.

A few boats have dropped out of the race with technical difficulties, leaving 52 boats and 455 sailors currently on the course, reveling in ever-warming trade winds, with glimpses of the waning full moon as they race southwest. Now they’re all looking for the right angle, sail combination, and trim with a light touch on the helm as they soon start scanning the horizon for the islands ahead.

1 Comment

  1. Gary Martin 10 months ago

    This is fun THANKS!!!

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