Asahi Super Cup
Growing Into a Major Yachting Event

Water Ways
Honolulu Star Bulletin (7/25/98)
By Ray Pendleton

The Asahi Super Cup yacht regatta, currently racing offshore of Waikiki, brings to mind the old saw, "large streams from little fountains flow, tall oaks from little acorns grow."

After all, in last year's inaugural competition, just nine boats met at the starting line for the two-day, four-race series.

One year later, the Asahi Super Cup boasts a fleet of some 25 to 30 boats, and race director Jon Stanley says he expects the numbers to increase dramatically in the future.

"Our goal, by the year 2000," Stanley said, "is to have an 80-boat fleet, with at least one world championship event."

Just this year's growth is quite impressive, given the nature of the economy, both here and in Japan, and the nature of the regatta itself.

"What makes the Asahi Super Cup different is the boats - or the use of them," says race media director Carol Hogan. "Sailors don't have to bring their own boats because Hawaii's yacht racing boat owners provide the boats on which the visiting crews can race."

The sailors Hogan speaks of are primarily from Japan and the boats are principally owned by Hawaii, Kaneohe and Waikiki yacht club members, who also make up the race committee.

There are a handful boats from Japan entered, but they are also in Hawai`i for next month's Kenwood Cup International Offshore Series.

Besides providing boats to charter, what else has sparked the three-fold increase in participants in this year's Asahi Super Cup?

"Along with our having the most exciting sailing in the world," Stanley said, "we have geared the race for the average sailor to have a good time."

And, apparently, the concept works. Because while some regattas have seen a drop in entries, both this year's "Fun Race to Hawaii" - the Pacific Cup - and the Asahi Super Cup "Have a Good Time" race fleets have expanded to record numbers.

Back this year are the top three finishers from '97: Skip Winterbottom's Lingard 35, Desperado, Les Vasconcellos' J-35, Urban Renewal, and Laurie Bakke's Nelson/Marek 56, Lear Jet. So, the introduction of Doug Taylor's brand-new Farr 40, Zamboni (did you guess he owns the Ice Palace?) will be an exciting addition to the competition.

Apparently, Mother Nature, too, will help to make the races more exciting this year. Unlike '97, when the breezes were fluky at best, it now looks as if the racers will be challenged by strong 15- to 30-knot trade winds today and tomorrow.

Of course, whatever the weather, the '98 Asahi Super Cup will provide the yacht racers with the best venue in the world to show off their talent. And with Stanley's assurance that the bottom line will be, "to get a lot of boats and people involved in having a good time," next year will be even bigger and better.

The Pacific Cup's local media representative Ray Sweeney called a few days ago to point out an error in last week's column, so with apologies to all, I will plead insanity.

It was, in fact, another Kaneohe Yacht Club member Gib Black's X-Yacht 40, Perestroika, which lost her mast on the way up to San Francisco and was eventually shipped there just in time for the race back to Hawai`i, not Dave Nottage's J-44, Kaimiloa, as reported.

Last week's Column -|- More Water Ways

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