First to Finish Fleeting Glory in Transpac.

Water Ways
Honolulu Star Bulletin (07/12/97)
By Ray Pendleton

      Here's this year's '97 Transpacific Yacht Race question: Now that Long Beach sailor Bob Lane's Andrews 56 Medicine Man has become the first boat in 20 years to eclipse the Transpac record and be the first to finish this year's race, her name will be added to the official first-to-finish trophy, commonly known as the Barn Door.

True or False?
If you said true, you just haven't been paying attention to all of the changes Transpac has made in recent years.

That koa wood, coffee table-sized Barn Door Trophy , now displayed in the Waikiki Yacht Club , was created by Los Angeles yachtsman William Stuart Jr. to honor the first boat to finish the 2,225-nautical mile race after his 67-foot yawl Chubasco finished first without receiving an appropriate trophy in 1947, so I've been told. But that was when all the boats began the race together.

Since 1993, Transpac officials have been using a staggered start, which allows progressively smaller and slower boats a head start of several days over their longer and faster competitors.

The primary reason for doing this is to compress the finish time, so boats that take two weeks to make the crossing will arrive at nearly the same time as the fastest boats that take about eight or nine days. Such compression tends to assure that all racers will approach the Islands under the same weather conditions - and almost as importantly, they will all get here in time for the awards banquet.

Once Transpac race officials adopted the staggered start, the Barn Door then logically had to go to the boat with the shortest elapsed time, rather than the first boat to finish.
So, although Medicine Man was the first boat across the Diamond Head finish line last Thursday and momentarily set a new elapsed time record, she had a three-day jump on the Division I monohulled speedsters - the 70-foot "TurboSleds" - and it will be one of those boats whose name will be inscribed on the Barn Door trophy, barring a 180-degree shift in the tradewinds.

Before that happens though, Alan Andrews, Medicine Man's designer, is quickly taking a few well deserved bows. In a release from his Long Beach office, Andrews notes that Medicine Man is 10 feet shorter than Merlin and yet shaved four and a half hours off her record run, and had two consecutive 24-hour runs of 305 miles.

Andrews could also be taking a few more bows when the TurboSleds arrive off Diamond Head as one of the leaders is the Andrews 70 Cheval , owned by Hal Ward and winner of the 1995 Transpac race. At the time of this writing, she was close on the heels of Roy Disney's Pyewacket , a Santa Cruz 70.

Now, you might be asking, how are this year's boats finally finding a way to break the two-decade-old record of 8 days, 11 hours, 1 minute and 45 seconds, held by the near-legendary Merlin ?

Along with better boat design, the answer lies in the heart of the Pacific High.
For the first time in many years of Transpac competitions, that high pressure ridge that sits somewhat above a straight line between Hawaii and Southern California has remained strong and constant. So, the 20- to 30-knot tradewinds we have experienced for the past several weeks are the same ones that have pushed the fleet at an all-time pace.

In a race 2,225 miles long, it is Mother Nature's designs that make the most difference.

For more see: WYC Transpac Nav Station

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