Honolulu Star Bulletin (07/29/00)
By Ray Pendleton
Even without all of the blue and white banners that have blossomed around the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor, a careful observer will notice something is different there.
But the banners give it away. It is again time for yachting's biennial Kenwood Cup Hawaii International Offshore Series, a nine-day contest for some of the world's most elite sailors.
The Kenwood Corporation has been sponsoring this world-class regatta since 1986 in a continuation of what once began 14 years earlier as an annual competition for local sailors called the Around the State Race.
After that race found sponsorship in 1978 from Pan American Airlines and became one of several races in the biennial Clipper Cup series, it gained more international competitors. However, after eight years, Pan Am left the Islands and withdrew its sponsorship.
Fortunately, Kenwood's corporate leaders decided to pick up where Pan Am left off, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Now, every even-numbered year, some of the fastest boats and the best sailing crews in the world enter into a competition that includes four Olympic-style triangles and four windward-leeward courses.
There is also a middle-distance, 150-mile, overnight race from Diamond Head to a point offshore Maui and back, and, new this year, a shorter-distance, 55-mile race from Diamond Head to Kaneohe and back.
The round trip race to Kaneohe is perhaps the most noticeable change in this year's Kenwood Cup series. Following the elimination of the historic 775-nautical mile Around the State Race in 1990, a roughly 370-mile inter-island race course had been used until now.
Race officials say this change is the result of persistent demands from competitors to shorten the series and to limit the overnight racing.
Another change this year in the Kenwood Cup schedule is the addition of two practice races this Monday, before the official start on Tuesday.
The practice races will not only allow visiting boat owners to become more comfortable with local waters, but it will also allow them to invite guests aboard to experience the thrill of actual racing conditions.
The composition of this year's fleet will show another change, but it is a change going on in offshore yacht racing the world over.
Increasing numbers of competitive sailors are opting for one-design yachts, that is, identical boats that can race against each other without the need for a handicap system. For this reason nearly a third of this year's 32-boat fleet will be comprised of Farr 40 ODs and 34-foot J-105s.
For spectators hoping to view the Kenwood Cup yachts in action, race officials recommend they visit the public information center at the Kenwood Cup race headquarters, located in the Ala Wai Marina parking lot.
The official race program is available there which gives advise on the best vantage points for watching, as well as detailed information on the individual races and entrants. Need I mention they have official T-shirts available too?
The first race, the Kenwood Triangle, will start Tuesday morning at 11, and the last, the 150-mile Moloka`i race will finish August 9, so you have plenty of time to check it out.
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