Victoria-Maui Race
No Ka Oi In Its Own Way

Water Ways
Honolulu Star Bulletin (7/11/98)
By Ray Pendleton

If you don't know much about the Victoria-Maui International Yacht Race, sponsored by Coopers & Lybrand, I'm really not surprised.

After all, it starts in a foreign country and ends on a neighbor island, so its news coverage on O`ahu is spotty at best.

The Vic-Maui, as it is called by its fans and participants, is a bit like O`ahu's 90-year-old Transpacific Yacht Race - its course runs from the North American continent to the Hawaiian Islands. But there are several significant differences.

First of all, like Transpac, the Vic-Maui is a biennial event, but it is just a third as old, as it was first raced in 1968.

It is also different in that it is organized and run by just two clubs, the Royal Vancouver and Lahaina yacht clubs, whereas Transpac receives support and direction from many yacht clubs on the mainland and O`ahu.

Of course, it could be argued that the Vic-Maui's condensed organizational leadership - RVYC Commodore Bruce Russell, LYC Commodore Anne White, RVYC Race Chair Ron Ogilvy and LYC Race Chair Bonnie Nelson - can more easily respond to the challenges inherent in such events.

Naturally, the fact that the Vic-Maui begins in Victoria, Canada, and finishes in Lahaina, Maui, U.S.A., it is truly an international event. But, it might come as a surprise to those who haven't studied geography that the shortest route between those two points (2,308 nautical miles) and Transpac's course (2,225 nautical miles) is so similar.

Between the starting line gun and the finish line flare, though, there is a major obstacle for Vic-Maui racers called the Pacific High. That same area of high pressure that creates our cooling northeast trade winds forms a huge region with no wind directly in the path of those taking the shortest course. In sailor parlance, a parking lot.

The fastest boats are those driven by sailors who find a way to keep just the right distance below and around that parking lot, which is not nearly as stationary as they would like.

Once past though, they can set their chutes and ride the trades downhill to paradise - nature's reward to all transpacific sailors.

"It was the hardest - and fastest - we've ever sailed," said a crewman on Jubilee, Bill Burnett's X-Yachts 38.

"Everyone on deck was shouting and hooting as we came down waves doing 20 knots," the Andrews 70, Renegade's owner Dan Sinclair said.

Aboard David Shore's Newport 41, Maestro, the enthusiasm wasn't diminished even after doing an accidental 720-degree spin, at night with no instruments, due to a power short.

The Vic-Maui finish, is naturally, the final example of the difference between the Vic-Maui and Transpac. The Diamond Head backdrop for the Transpac finish line is replaced by a line off the vantage point of an eighth-floor hotel suite in Kaanapali and an adjacent buoy. When a boat crosses - day or night - a flare blasts off to announce the finish.

Finally, unless the boat has a deeper keel than can be accommodated by Lahaina's harbor, each Vic-Maui racer is piloted up to the wharf for a traditional aloha welcome of mai tias and leis. And with this greeting, all of Hawaii's transpacific yacht races are, like Maui herself, no ka oi - the best.

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