Pegasus wins Barn Door
One hour ahead of Pyewacket

Pegasus' Arrival

Ala Wai Harbor, Waikiki, Hawai`i (9 July 2001) - Captains of industry, as well as sailing ships, have tried for nearly a century to win the Transpacific Yacht Race, some successfully, many in vain. It took Roy E. Disney two decades to claim the wooden Barn Door trophy, symbolic of the fastest elapsed time.

Philippe Kahn, a French-born software developer from Santa Cruz, Calif. won it today on his second try when he sailed his 75-foot ultralight sloop Pegasus past thefinish line off Diamond Head after 8 days 2 hours 34 minutes 3 seconds. Pegasus was an hour and three minutes ahead of Disney's Pyewacket to climax an epochal three-way battle across 2,225 nautical miles from Los Angeles that also included Bob McNulty's boat Chance.

Kahn, 49, has been sailing competitively for little more than two years. He surfaced as a major player on the world scene in this event two years ago when he finished fifth in Division 1 in a second-hand boat. This time he had his own boat built with the express purpose of winning Transpac and recruited some of his adopted country's best sailors to help him sail it.

The least experienced sailors aboard were Kahn and his 11-year-old son Samuel - nickname "Shark" - who is believed to be the youngest person ever to participate in a Transpac. The 12-person crew included world-class household names such as Mark Rudiger, navigator extraordinaire; Jeff Madrigali, bowman Curtis Blewett, Morgan Larson and Zan Drejes, who won the event's Don Vaughan award as best crewmen on the winning boat with Pyewacket in '99.

Kahn said, "We started working on this two years ago. We built a boat and we trained a team. Pyewacket has a great team, but we were lucky and we outsailed them."

Disney said, "It was kind of long and slow, but it was three boats glued together. The only time we were out of sight was today."

Often the boats were within shouting distance, "but we both restrained ourselves," Disney said.

Disney said that in breeze above 20 knots Pyewacket seemed faster, but Robbie Haines, his sailing manager, said, "When we were alongside we could see they were faster. They had a faster boat and did a nice job sailing it. It was great sailing - a 2,300-mile match race.

It also was more tactical and less navigational than most Transpacs. One time Pegasus broke away but quickly lost distance and rejoined the other two.

"Everywhere we went they went, too," Haines said.

Rudiger said, "That was Philippe's thing. He's more tactical. But we thought we had more speed than they did."

Kahn's eagerness to improve his sailing skills is boundless. He competes in several difficult classes and pulls equal weight on the boat with his crew. Even Shark fell into the routine of standing regular watch duty as the race progressed.

Kahn does have rules, however: no tobacco, no alcohol, no drugs and no sailor-type language on his boats. Nobody seems to mind. In his e-mail commentary along the way, Kahn often deferred to Pyewacket's superior experience.

But Madrigali, a two-time Olympian and veteran of nine Transpacs, said, "Philippe likes to play it down. These are the greatest sailors I've ever sailed with. We had flawless crew work."

The time didn't approach Pyewacket's record of 7:11:41:27 set in the windier previous race in 1999, but it was well under the legendary Merlin's former record of 8 days that stood for 20 years. Chance, a boat similar to Pegasus, posted the race's third fastest elapsed time, about 1 hours behind Pyewacket. That's as far apart as the trio ever was after settling into a tense tactical game from the start.

All that remained was to determine whether Pegasus would score an uncommon Transpac sweep: best elapsed time, first in class and first overall on corrected time. That hasn't been done since 1993, and the strongest threat to Pegasus is Seth Radow's Bull, a Sydney 40 leading in Division III. If Bull can finish by shortly after Hawaiian sunrise Wednesday, it will beat Pegasus on handicap time, but it needs to maintain its current speed of just under 10 knots over the last 350 miles.

When Pegasus, its hull and billowing spinnaker bearing images of the winged horse of Greek mythology, soared gracefully downwind past Waikiki during the Hawaiian lunch hour, there was no sign of competition on the horizon - the first time in days that the lead boats hadn't been within sight of each other.


Peter and Patricia Anderson's Aloha-B Division entry Stardust from Laguna Beach, Calif., which finished Sunday, was a combination honeymoon cruise and household move.

"This was our move to Hawaii," said Anderson, a retired American Airlines pilot.

They have secured a slip for their Wylie 46 at the Ko Olina resort and in April will embark on a cruise that will lead them to the next America's Cup at Auckland, N.Z. late next year.

"This was our second Transpac together," Peter Anderson, 60, said. "We did it on [the communications vessel] Alaska Eagle in 1987. I proposed to her then - and she turned me down."

But Peter was persistent and they were married in 1993. Patricia is a retired elementary schoolteacher. They sailed with only two other people: Rene Rudarte and Lydia Bird - the latter a former Transpac women's single-handed record holder.

Their worst moments were a brush with a whale and a mid-ocean sail change that left their spinnaker in the water under the boat.

"We ran over it, but we managed to make a quick stop and keep it away from the keel," Peter Anderson said.

Rudarte was driving when the whale caught him by surprise. "All of a sudden I saw it come out from under the spinnaker. It brushed the side of the boat - scared me as much as it did him."

TRACKING CHART Check the courses of your favorite boats across the Pacific with the Transpac tracking chart on the official Web site at

Rich Roberts
Cell phone (310) 213-2526
Information center (808) 946-9061

ElectroMarine Services at Ala Wai Harbor

Transpac 2001