Cal 40s are great boats, and we’re happy to bring you the news that another one is being revived and returned to racing. Belvedere’s Don Jesberg acquired Viva, hull #103, last year and the boat is currently undergoing a rebuild in preparation for the 2019 Transpac. “What better way to celebrate the 50th running of the Transpac than with a 50-year-old boat?” is Don’s mantra these days.
Jesberg has been a familiar figure on the local and extended racing scene since he started sailing El Toros in Belvedere at age 7. He’s owned 25 boats since then, with the last eight — including several Melges 24s, a Melges 32 and many Etchells — all named Viva.
The first of seven Transpacs he’s done was aboard his father’s Cal 33, Vicarious. (The ‘V’s in the family boat names honor his mother, Violet.) He did the 2005 ‘Centennial Celebration’ Transpac race on Davis Pillsbury’s Ralphie, and really enjoyed the tour de force of 14 Cal 40s — especially the part where Ralphie finished almost 11 hours ahead of the second Cal 40, and got fourth overall.
Don is hoping the 50th running will attract another big fleet of 40s. Five are currently signed up, but the word is out and interest is there. The race could easily see another dozen boats come out to play.
(A bit of clarification: the ‘centennial’ Transpac of 2005 marked the 100th anniversary of this biennial classic — but only the 43rd running. Because several races were canceled during the war years, the 50-race mark doesn’t happen until 2019.)
The decision to go on his own 40 was the easy part. The hard part was finding a decent one for sale. Fortunately, Cal 40 guru Fin Beven (of Radiant) got on the case, and they soon located a nice one in Seattle.
Hull #103 was built in 1969 and named Warpath by her first owner, an Ohioan who sailed her exclusively on the Great Lakes. She never touched saltwater until 2010, when her second owner had her trucked to the Bay and renamed her Spirit. When he moved to Seattle in 2013, the boat went with him.
Don purchased the boat last November, and she was immediately trucked to the Southern California yard of Doug Grant. Doug is not only the inventor/manufacturer of Vangmaster pneumatic boom vangs, he is a diehard fan of Cal 40s and has restored a dozen of them.
At this writing, the boat has been stripped to pretty much a bare hull and deck. She will be rebuilt better than new — new mast, rigging, sails, rudder, winches — everything. Don is hoping for a relaunch around Christmas. Team Viva will do the early sea trials in SoCal, then come north after the first of the year to fine-tune on the Bay. The first Transpac start is off Point Fermin next July 10.
The buzz is on that the 2019 Transpac could attract one of the biggest fleets ever. Earlier this month, the Transpacific Yacht Club received its “50th entry to next year’s 50th running” (that was Longboard, Peter Salusbury’s Vancouver-based Riptide 35). This is the first time this many boats have entered this far in advance. For more on the 2019 race, including an online entry form, go to www.2019.transpacyc.com.