39th Biennial Transpacific Yacht Race

Transpac '97
Sponsored by Kenwood
39th biennial Transpacific Yacht Race / Los Angeles to Hawaii
Hawaiian Airlines the Official Airline of Transpac '97
Transpacific Yacht Club
Gil Jones, Commodore

June 5, 1997
For Immediate Release -|- See Latest News -|- Entries

ESPNEWS and ESPN2 will have daily live simulcast reports of the 39th Transpacific Yacht Race from July 7 through July 15 between 2 and 3 p.m. PDT. In addition, as the race gets under way ESPN and ESPNEWS will report live July 5 between 3 and 3:30 p.m. PDT, and on July 6 there will be a taped simulcast of the major monohull start between 5 and 6 a.m. PDT.

Alaska Eagle - How the Transpac Stays in Touch
When the second wave of boats starts the 39th Transpacific Yacht Race to Hawai`i on July 2, Alaska Eagle will be tagging along like a mother duck. But although the 65-foot cutter-rigged sloop is often called the race's "escort" vessel, the ducklings had better know how to swim.

"We're not a safety vessel," says Grant Baldwin, the race's roll call administrator. "We're a communications vessel. We used to call it escort, but escort implied some safety connotation. We aren't in any better position to save them than we are to save ourselves."

With its powerful communications equipment, the Alaska Eagle receives daily position reports from all boats in the race between 8 and 9 o'clock (PDT) each morning. Then it broadcasts the information back to the fleet so everyone knows where their competition is and also transmits the list by satellite to the radio room at the Long Beach Yacht Club, which disseminates it to race officials, media and race headquarters in Honolulu.

The radio gear ashore and afloat--all 100-watt units--was donated by Kenwood Corp., the race's major sponsor.

"It's superb," said Baldwin, who will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of his first Transpac in 1947.

Although the race dates to 1906, Baldwin said, "The '49 race was the first race we had fairly regular communications. In '51 we had [the first] regular roll call."

Alaska Eagle also is a floating schoolhouse. Property of the Orange Coast College Sailing Program, the boat and its sister ship Volcano sail the globe year-round crewed by student sailors who pay tuition--$2,500 each for the Transpac--for the education and experience.

Brad Avery, director of OCC's marine programs, said, "These people that go are all sailors, but they've never crossed an ocean. This way they can take two weeks, cross the ocean under supervision and fly home. We teach celestial [navigation], they stand watches and we integrate them into the whole running of the boat."

The boat's co-skippers are Rich and Sheri Crowe, who brought the boat from England in 1982 and continue to run many of the program's voyages from the South Seas to Alaska to Antarctica. Contrary to another common misconception, Alaska Eagle sails the entire 2,225 nautical miles to Hawai`i.

For this race, Alaska Eagle will chase the cruising class that starts one week earlier on June 28 and probably be overtaken by the ULDB 70 turbo sleds and standard sleds that start three days later on July 5 and the multihulls starting July 7.

"What I try to do is keep us in the middle of the fleet," Baldwin said. "She will sail easily 200-to-220-mile days."

Alaska Eagle, a Sparkman/Stephens design built of aluminum, was called Flyer when it won the second Whitbread Round-the-World Race in 1977-78. But it was soon surpassed by developing technology, and when that became evident in the '81-82 Whitbread owner Neil Bergt donated the boat to OCC, which wasn't sure what to do with it. Then Transpacific Yacht Club Commodore Dick Steele asked to use it for the '83 race.

Avery said, "We'd never taken the boat anywhere and thought, 'Gee, this would be an opportunity for us to have some students on board.' That really launched our offshore sailing program."

Wherever they go, Alaska Eagle and Volcano are usually booked solid. Avery had 25 bids for the Transpac race, which is limited to 10. "That's how many bunks we have," he said "We don't hot-bunk it like on a race boat."

While most of the racing boats have "tube" bunks for crew crammed in among extra sails, Alaska Eagle has a finished interior with four private staterooms.

"Compared to [ULDB 70] sleds, it's like a palace," Avery said.

The sailing also is more casual. The crew trolls most of the way, catching its own mahi mahi, wahoo and occasional yellowfin tuna for dinner.

"The downside is that the single sideband [radio] is up 24 hours a day, so there's noise," Baldwin said. "People are talking all the time, and most of the time it isn't us. We pick up the tugs and the freighters."

They also talk to commercial airliners flying at 40,000 feet and to Matson freighters that offer weather reports they can relay to the fleet. A highlight of every day is the traditional "Children's Hour" at 5 p.m. when various boats break the monotony by staging radio skits featuring comedy acts, poems or songs.

"The [women] involved in recent races have pumped it quite up a bit," Baldwin said in what race veterans might regard as an understatement.

In special cases, Alaska Eagle can relay emergency messages between race boats and the mainland.

"What it turns into, unfortunately, is somebody thinks we ought to be a travel agent," Baldwin said. " 'Change my reservations from Saturday to Sunday because we're not gonna get in on time.' "

Some ham radios on the mainland can pick up Alaska Eagle's signal. The boat monitors marine single sideband 4a, frequency 4146.0, around the clock.


  • The pre-race skippers' meetings will be coupled with traditional Aloha dinners for the Cruising Division June 26 at the Long Beach Yacht Club ($25) and for all others July 1 on the Queen Mary ($35). Also, there will be an Aloha Cocktail Party at LBYC June 30 ($7) with complimentary mai tais and hors d'oeuvres. Details and reservations: Sandy Martin at (310) 608-3401 or Cathie Nash at (714) 646-512
  • The number of entries, which closed May 16, stands at 41.
  • The turbo sleds and standard sleds will start simultaneously July 5 at 1 p.m. on opposite sides of a split line separated by the committee boat. The turbos will be on the port (left) line. The line will be set square to the west end of Santa Catalina Island, not to the wind.
  • All starts will be near the bluffs of Pt. Fermin.
  • The multihulls starting July 7 as an official class for the first time will compete for the new Rudy Choy Perpetual Trophy. Choy's Aikane catamaran was the former record holder for the course.
  • Accredited media may view the July 2 and July 5 starts from boats leaving San Pedro. There probably will not be boats provided for the June 28 Cruising class and July 7 multihull starts. Details later.

Transpac on the Internet:
http://www.kenwoodcorp.com/transpac97/, for current and previous press releases, updated information, Pre-Race Information, Sailing Instructions, Entry list, Crew list , Press releases, Mid-Race Information, Daily positions, standings, News from the fleet .

The women's teams' web sites:

For Mainland media information until July 12, please contact:
Rich Roberts
1258 Lakme Ave. Wilmington, CA 90744
Phone (310) 835-2526. Fax (310) 513-1664
E-mail: richroberts@compuserve.com

For Hawai`i media information, please contact:
Carol Hogan/Ocean Promotion
73-1241 Melomelo Street, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Phone & Fax: 808-325-7400
Email: oceanpro@interpac.net

Daily position and standings excerpts
Phone Long Beach Yacht Club: (562) 431-8100
Phone Honolulu media center: (808) 946-1100
Phone Honolulu race headquarters: (808) 946-9061

Hele On to WYC Transpac Nav Station

Last modified: Friday 7/4/97 1449 HST
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