For the third time in six attempts, Roy Disney’s Pyewacket has again won the “Barn Door” trophy for the fastest elapsed time by a monohull in the Transpacific Yacht Race, a world-famous sailboat contest that starts in Los Angeles and finishes in Honolulu.
While the Disney pack hoped that by modifying their already very fast Reichel Pugh thoroughbred racer, which was custom-made for this very race by adding length and some radical wings, they would set a new speed record for the course, it was not to be. In fact there would be no records set in this year’s relatively slow race. The Pyewacket squad would arrive 9 hours 7 minutes 44 seconds short of the record held by Morning Glory.
After arriving in Hawaii, Pyewacket’s skipper Roy Pat Disney said the boat’s speed ranged “from zero to 28.8 [knots] this morning before Molokai.” But the highlight was the last wild ride to the finish in following winds of 30 knots gusting to 34. Sailing manager Robbie Haines said of the lost record, “It just wasn’t to be. The boat performed marvelously.”
Pyewacket wasn’t the only boat to take longer than expected to complete the 2,225-mile course. In fact, nearly all the boats encountered limp conditions that left them out in the Pacific longer than they planned.
John Jourdane, the ocean-racing author who sailed on Bob Lane’s Medicine Man from Long Beach, said, “I’ve done 25 Pacific crossings and this was the most unusual.”
Several veteran navigators agreed it was the weirdest Transpac for wind conditions in memory, not the usual pick-the-best-southern-route-under-the-Pacific High, hook-up-the-chute-and-fly drill, but rather a frantic search for breeze through a maze of pockets of light or little wind.
In addition to Pyewacket, the other boat that was hoping to set a new speed record this year was Pegasus, an Open 50 owned and skippered by Philippe Kahn, a reputable sailor and credited as creator of the first complete camera phone. He was after the double-handed mark of 10 days 4 hours 4 minutes 19 seconds set by Howard Gordon and Jay Crum in 2001, but he missed it by about 20 hours. Like everyone else, the duo was searching for pressure, but didn’t get enough. Kahn describes a thrilling ride leading up to his finish:
“[It was] an awesome ride toward the lighthouse,” Kahn says. “We hooked onto a massive squall monster, saw 32 knots of wind and sustained 18 knots of boat speed for the longest time. [Our keel is] fully canted, water ballast in the back and all the weight that we can find in the boat stacked astern.
“For the final hours of the race we saw up to 36 knots of wind and sustained 20 knots of boat speed easily [….] these [Open 50] boats plane so easily. We jibed at the tip of Molokai in one of those extraordinary moments when the whole universe seems to be in focus, and we pulled it off.”
On the local front, John MacLaurin’s Pendragon IV of Marina del Rey, with Cal Yacht Club’s staff commodore Bill Petersen on board, came in second in its class with a strong showing in the final leg.
In the Aloha A Class, Ross Pearlman, also of Marina del Rey, once again came in first sailing his Jeanneau 52, Between the Sheets. And John Wallner of the Fairwind Yacht Club came in third in his class on his Catalina 36, Lady Liberty.
Reinrag2 was Transpac’s overall winner on corrected handicap time.
For complete standings visit www.transpacificyc.org/.