TransPacific race to stagger starts

Water Ways
Honolulu Star Bulletin (2/10/01)
By Ray Pendleton

It's way too soon to tell, but this could be a banner year for entries in this summer's 41st TransPacific Yacht Race from Los Angeles to Honolulu.

More commonly known as the Transpac, the race's first start isn't until late June, but so far, five boats have been officially entered.

All interested competitors have until March 2 to take advantage of Transpac's discounted entry fee. After that, full-fee entries will be accepted as late as May 20.

As Transpac's organizers point out, the diversified nature of the five early entries appears to reflect the variety of boat types they are trying to appeal to with their restructured event.

Three of these early bird entries are entered in the "Aloha Class," which was formerly known as the "Cruising Class," for heavier displacement boats.

One entry is William John's Beneteau 42, Joyride, from Manhattan Beach, Calif. and another is Jim Fabrick's Tartan 41, Gecko, out of Laguna Beach, Calif.

A third Aloha Class entry is Howard Raphael's Beneteau 40, Oceanis, from Palo Alto, Calif., which previously raced in 1999.

The fourth early bird entry is Dr. Edward Diethrich's Santa Cruz 52, Triumph, from Phoenix, Ariz. Dr. Diethrich last competed in Transpac 22 years ago on a C&C 61, also named Triumph.

The fifth early bird entry is Howard Gordon's Jutson 50, E'tranger, which he and one other crew member will sail double-handed in the Open 50 Class.

According to race organizers, the final overall entry list will break down not only into divisions arranged by size, but also into new "no-handicap, first-to-finish contests" within the overall competition.

They will include the Transpac 40 and 50 classes, the Open 50 class and the Clothier Trophy - donated by Waikiki Yacht Club's Don Clothier - for the first-to-finish boat under 49 feet with a fully furnished interior.

The venerable Transpac fleet of Santa Cruz 50s and 52s, will race as a class on a handicap format.

As has been the case for a number of years, the 2001 Transpac will have a multiple-day staggered start. By giving the slower boats an early lead on the 2,225-mile course, it is hoped that most of the fleet will arrive in Honolulu within a few days of each other.

The Aloha Class will have the first start on Monday, June 25, not on June 26, as initially published in Transpac's "Notice and Conditions of Race."

"This gives us the one extra day we felt we needed after the last race in 1999," said Sandy Martin, Transpacific Yacht Club commodore.

A full five days later, on June 30, boats measuring under 50 feet in length will have their start. The following day, boats over 50 feet will start, and finally, all multihulled racers will start on July 4.

For decades, winning the Barn Door trophy (awarded to the monohull with the fastest elapsed time) has been a prominent part of Transpac tradition. And, as race organizers point out, Roy Disney's Pyewacket, the current record holder, appears destined to face some especially formidable challengers this year.

But, so far, because these major downwind sleds are among the last to go through the formality of filing official entries and prefer to lie low until the final minute, listing any names at this time would be just speculation.

Anyone wishing to learn more about this year's Transpac should browse its Web site.

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