No boat among the 18 earliest entries in next summer's 43rd Transpacific Yacht Race embodies the spirit of 100 years of racing from California to Hawaii more than the 58-foot yawl Odyssey, whose wooden timbers creak with tradition.
The boat has been in the Steele family of Transpac lore since it was built in 1938 and sailed its first Honolulu race in 1939. It is now owned by Audrey Steele Burnand, a Newport Harbor Yacht Club member. The skipper will be her son-in-law, Cecil ROSSI, who sailed it for 10 years on San Francisco Bay and oversaw its restoration five years ago.
"The boat was completely rebuilt,"
Rossi said. "New bottom put on, all new frames, new deck."
Odyssey will sail in the Aloha division for boats technically challenged by contemporary ultralights and the like, but the latter can't compete on the proud and stately scale.
Audrey Steele Burnand will not sail. Her father, Harry Steele, was owner/skipper in 1939 and her mother, Grace, owned the boat when her brother, Richard STEELE, raced it to Honolulu in ' 55 and '61. Richard Steele would become Transpac's commodore in 1983. Patricia Steele, who now owns Merlin, which held the race record for 20 years, is Audrey's niece.
And there's more. Rossi's navigator will be Scott Abrams, a Matson captain who is not only intimately familiar with the route but literally holds it in his genes. He is the grandson of Clarence MacFarlane, who founded and sailed the first race (third among three boats) in 1906.
"Scotty said, 'I gotta go. My grandfather did it a hundred years ago,' "
Each has done 10 Transpacs and will be joined by a crew including John Rumsey, Gregory Gillette, son Isaac Gillette and Kirk and Skip Elliot, who have logged dozens more among them.
"Oldtimers, old friends,"
Rossi said. "We all sailed together back in the 60s."
Eight months from the July starts, the fleet also includes seven Cal 40s with several more expected, continuing their 40-year revival of 2003 when 10 sailed.
At the hot end of the fleet are Bob Lane's Medicine Man, the Andrews 61 that in '03 trailed only two maxi sleds---Philippe Kahn's Pegasus and Roy DISNEY'S Pyewacket---boat for boat; the Doug McLean/Melinda Lincoln Locomotion, the Andrews 45 that was overall winner of the Marina del Rey-Puerto Vallarta Race in 2003, and David KORY'S high-tuned MacGregor 65, Barking Spider 3.
Also, there remains the possibility of a multihull class with two catamarans expressing interest. Under current plans, four would be required to establish a class.
Paid entries to date (listed alphabetically):
Barking Spider (MacGregor 65), David Kory, Concord, Calif.
Blue (J/160), Kenneth Sears, Nashville, Tenn.
Bubala (Cal 40), Lloyd Sellinger, Newport Beach, Calif.
California Girl (Cal 40), Don and Betty Lessley, Novato, Calif.
Callisto (Cal 40), Jim Eddy, Glendale, Calif.
Chasch Mer (S/C 50), Gib Black, Honolulu.
Illusion (Cal 40), Sally Honey, Palo Alto, Calif.
Jacaré (J/35), Jeff Young/Rich Blackman, San Diego.
Kahoots (Andrews 43), Kerry Deaver, Newport Beach/Bob Williamson, Corona del Mar, Calif.
Locomotion (Andrews 45), Doug McLean/Melinda Lincoln, Long Beach, Calif.
Medicine Man (Andrews 61), Bob Lane, Long Beach, Calif.
Merlin (Lee 68), Patricia Steele, Maui.
Odyssey (58-foot yawl), Cecil Rossi/Audrey Steele Burnand, Newport Beach, Calif.
Psyche (Cal 40), Steve Calhoun, Palos Verdes, Calif.
Pursuit (Custom 48), Norman and Rosemary Dawley, Solomons, Md.
Radiant (Cal 40), Fin Beven, Pasadena, Calif.
Ralphie (Cal 40), Taylor and Davis Pillsbury, Woody Creek, Colo.
Soap Opera (Hobie 33), Scott Self/Nigel Brown, Rockwall, Tex. (doublehanded).