Transpac records don't fall very often

Water Ways
Honolulu Star Bulletin (07/10/99)
By Ray Pendleton

I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of e-mail messages I've received thanking me for last week's column about the history of the Transpacific Yacht Race.

"I always knew Transpac had started in Santa Barbara at one time, but I never knew exactly when," one reader wrote.

"Mahalo for bringing out King David Kalakaua's part in creating Transpac," wrote another.

So, with that in mind, and the race still underway, perhaps it is a good time to highlight a few more historical footnotes of the oldest on-going, bluewater yacht race in the world.

For instance, did you know that after 39 races over 97 years, Transpac has had only nine elapsed-time record holders of the races begun from Los Angeles?

The 86-foot schooner Lurline, in the first race of 1906, set the mark at 12 days, 9 hours and 59 minutes, and that time held until 1923, when the 136-foot schooner Invader eclipsed it by about seven hours.

It wasn't until 1949 that the 98-foot schooner Morning Star set a new record with a crossing of 10 days, 10 hours, 13 minutes, and 9 seconds, and then broke her own record in 1955 by dropping the time some 19 hours.

The end of the schooner era was signaled in 1965, when the 72-foot ketch Ticonderoga, set the record at 9 days, 13 hours, 51 minutes and 2 seconds. That pace was quickly beaten by about three and a half hours in 1969, by the 75-foot ketch Blackfin, and then, two years later, the 73-foot ketch Windward Passage, reduced it by another hour and a quarter.

The '77 Transpac heralded the era of the ultralight displacement boat (ULDB) when the 67-foot sloop Merlin, dropped the elapsed time to 8 days, 11 hours, 1 minute, and 45 seconds. That record held up for 20 years, until 1997, when the 68-foot sloop Pyewacket, beat it by more than 19 1/2 hours.

Quickly, here are a few more Transpac tidbits.

  • If there is to be a new record in this year's race, a boat must cross the Diamond Head finish line no later than 1:24:39 a.m. tomorrow morning.

  • The closest elapsed time finish was in 1973, when Ragtime beat Windward Passage by 4 minutes and 31 seconds.

  • The last schooner to win the race on elapsed time was the 161-foot Goodwill (the largest yacht to ever race in Transpac) in 1959.

  • The most yachts to race was 80 in 1979.

  • The fewest yachts to race was two in 1932, during the Great Depression.

  • There are 34 entries in this year's race.

  • The smallest yacht to race in Transpac is this year's entry Vapor, a 25-foot, fractional rigged sloop from the Alamitos Bay (Long Beach Yacht Club).

  • The most races done by one yacht is nine, by the 78-foot schooner Queen Mab ('53 - '69.)

  • The most elapsed time victories by one yacht was a tie: three by Lurline, 1906, 1908, 1912, and three by Morning Star, 1949, 1951, 1955.

  • The only foreign-owned yacht to become the elapsed time winner was the 73-foot ketch Stormvogel, from South Africa, in 1967.

Remember all of the above, you will certainly be able to amaze your friends and family in the coming week, while Transpac's 40th race comes to an end.

Now Arriving at TransPac Row

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