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11 July 2001, 10:12 am
Pegasus Wins
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The winner 'Pegasus' photo:Rich Roberts

Biennial Transpacific Yacht Race

Pegasus, captained by Philippe Kahn (FRA), was first to reach Diamond Head off Honolulu in the Biennial Transpacific Yacht Race from Los Angeles to Hawaii. They finished one hour ahead of second position Pyewacket.
Captains of industry, as well as sailing ships, have tried for nearly a century to win the Transpacific Yacht Race, some successfully, many in vain. It took Roy E. Disney two decades to claim the wooden 'Barn Door' trophy, symbolic of the fastest elapsed time.

Philippe Kahn, a, French-born software developer from Santa Cruz, Calif., Monday won it on his second try when he sailed his 75-foot ultralight sloop Pegasus past the finish line off Diamond Head after 8 days 2 hours 34 minutes 3 seconds. Pegasus was an hour and three minutes ahead of Disney's Pyewacket to climax an epochal three-way battle across 2,225 nautical miles from Los Angeles that also included Bob McNulty's boat Chance.

Kahn, 49, has been sailing competitively for little more than two years. He surfaced as a major player on the world scene in this event two years ago when he finished fifth in Division 1 in a second-hand boat. This time he had his own boat built with the express purpose of winning Transpac and recruited some of his adopted country's best sailors to help him sail it.

The least experienced sailors aboard were Kahn and his 11-year-old son Samuel - nickname "Shark" - who is believed to be the youngest person ever to participate in a Transpac. The 12-person crew included world-class household names such as Mark Rudiger, navigator extraordinaire; Jeff Madrigali, bowman Curtis Blewett, Morgan Larson and Zan Drejes, who won the event's Don Vaughan award as best crewmen on the winning boat with Pyewacket in '99.

Kahn said, "We started working on this two years ago. We built a boat and we trained a team. Pyewacket has a great team, but we were lucky and we outsailed them."

Disney said, "It was kind of long and slow, but it was three boats glued together. The only time we were out of sight was today." Often the boats were within shouting distance, "but we both restrained ourselves," Disney said.

Disney said that in breeze above 20 knots Pyewacket seemed faster, but Robbie Haines, his sailing manager, said, "When we were alongside we could see they were faster. They had a faster boat and did a nice job sailing it. It was great sailing - a 2,300-mile match race. It also was more tactical and less navigational than most Transpacs. One time Pegasus broke away but quickly lost distance and rejoined the other two."

"Everywhere we went they went, too," Haines said. Rudiger said, "That was Philippe's thing. He's more tactical. But we thought we had more speed than they did."

Kahn's eagerness to improve his sailing skills is boundless. He competes in several difficult classes and pulls equal weight on the boat with his crew. Even Shark fell into the routine of standing regular watch duty as the race progressed.

Kahn does have rules, however: no tobacco, no alcohol, no drugs and no sailor-type language on his boats. Nobody seems to mind. In his e-mail commentary along the way, Kahn often deferred to Pyewacket's superior experience.

But Madrigali, a two-time Olympian and veteran of nine Transpacs, said, "Philippe likes to play it down. These are the greatest sailors I've ever sailed with. We had flawless crew work."

The time didn't approach Pyewacket's record of 7:11:41:27 set in the windier previous race in 1999, but it was well under the legendary Merlin's former record of 8 ½ days that stood for 20 years. Chance, a boat similar to Pegasus, posted the race's third fastest elapsed time, about 1 ½ hours behind Pyewacket. That's as far apart as the trio ever was after settling into a tense tactical game from the start.

All that remained was to determine whether Pegasus would score an uncommon Transpac sweep: best elapsed time, first in class and first overall on corrected time. That hasn't been done since 1993, and the strongest threat to Pegasus is Seth Radow's Bull, a Sydney 40 leading in Division III. If Bull can finish by shortly after Hawaiian sunrise Wednesday, it will beat Pegasus on handicap time, but it needs to maintain its current speed of just under 10 knots over the last 350 miles.

When Pegasus, its hull and billowing spinnaker bearing images of the winged horse of Greek mythology, soared gracefully downwind past Waikiki during the Hawaiian lunch hour, there was no sign of competition on the horizon - the first time in days that the lead boats hadn't been within sight of each other.

TRANSPAC CAMEO

Peter and Patricia Anderson's Aloha-B Division entry Stardust from Laguna Beach, Calif., which finished Sunday, was a combination honeymoon cruise and household move.

"This was our move to Hawaii," said Anderson, a retired American Airlines pilot.

They have secured a slip for their Wylie 46 at the Ko Olina resort and in April will embark on a cruise that will lead them to the next America's Cup at Auckland, N.Z. late next year.

"This was our second Transpac together," Peter Anderson, 60, said. "We did it on [the communications vessel] Alaska Eagle in 1987. I proposed to her then - and she turned me down."

But Peter was persistent and they were married in 1993. Patricia is a retired elementary schoolteacher. They sailed with only two other people:Rene Rudarte and Lydia Bird - the latter a former Transpac women's single-handed record holder.

Their worst moments were a brush with a whale and a mid-ocean sail change that left their spinnaker in the water under the boat. "We ran over it, but we managed to make a quick stop and keep it away from the keel," Peter Anderson said.

Rudarte was driving when the whale caught him by surprise. "All of a sudden I saw it come out from under the spinnaker. It brushed the side of the boat - scared me as much as it did him."

Standings in order of handicap ratings at 6:30 p.m. PDT July 9:

DIVISION 1 (started July 1)

1. Pegasus (Reichel/Pugh 75), Philippe Kahn, Santa Cruz, Calif., finished 8
days 2 hours 34 minutes 3 seconds.
2. Pyewacket (Reichel/Pugh 73), Roy E. Disney, Los Angeles, Calif.,
8:03:36:58.
3. Chance (Reichel/Pugh 74), Bob McNulty, Corona del Mar, Calif.,
8:05:08:24.
4. Merlin's Reata (Lee 68), Al Micallef, Ft. Worth, Tex., 265/149.

DIVISION 2 (started July 1)

1. Grand Illusion (Santa Cruz 70), James McDowell, Haiku, H.I., 264/240.
2. J-Bird III (Transpac 52), David Janes, Newport Beach, Calif., 276/209.
3. Taxi Dancer (R/P 68), Brian W. Mock, Corona del Mar, Calif., 274/272.
4. Medicine Man (Andrews 61), Bob Lane, Long Beach, Calif., 320/248.
5. Yassou (Transpac 52), Jim and Nancy Demetriades, Beverly Hills, Calif.,
286/300.
6. Ragtime (Spencer 65), Hui Holokai Syndicate, Owen Minney/Trisha Steele,
Honolulu, 250/381.
7. Mongoose (SC 70), Robert Saielli, La Jolla, Calif., 266/381.
8. DH--Étranger (Jutson 50), Howard Gordon, San Luis Obispo, Calif.,
259/464.

DIVISION 3 (started June 30)

1. Cantata (Andrews 53), Brent Vaughan, Oceanside, Calif., 231/252.
2. Firebird (Nelson/Marek 55), Greg Sands, Long Beach, Calif., 225/266.
3. Bengal II (Ohashi 52), Yoshihiko Murase, Nagoya, Japan, 274/118.
4. Rocket Science (Riptide 55), Nguyen Le, Amsterdam, 256/193.
5. Baronesa V (Open 40), Shuichi Ogasawara, Miyagi, Japan, 268/212.

DIVISION 4 (started June 30)

1. Bull (Sydney 40 OD-T), Seth Radow, Marina del Rey, Calif., 232/259.
2. Sensation (1D35), Mike Thomas, Detroit, Mich., 220/396.
3. DH--Two Guys On the Edge (Sonoma 30), Dan Doyle, Honolulu, H.I.,
188/655.
4. Ouch (J/120), Ted Mayes, San Juan Capistrano, Calif., 219/453.
5. Uproarious (Olson 40), Robert Bussard, Santa Fe, N.M., 189/542.
6. Mystere (Swan 42), Jorge Morales, Laguna Niguel, Calif., 156/726.
7. DH --Watercolors (Sabre 402), Michael Abraham, Newport Beach, Calif.,
149/747.
RETIRED -- LawnDart (Fast 40), Bill Allan, Nanaimo, B.C., 2,175.

DH-Doublehanded

ALOHA DIVISION A (started June 25)

1. Willow Wind (Cal 40), Wendy Siegal, Sunset Beach, Calif., 155/12.
2. Shanakee II (Pedrick 75), Jim Warmington, Balboa, finished 11:15:51:38.
3. Seda (Ericson 41), Josef Sedivec, Bonita, Calif., 155/199.
4. Sea Dancer (Ericson 35), Al Wheatman, Marina del Rey, 154/288.
5. Bonaire (Moody 65), Gil Jones and Associates, Newport Beach, finished
13:22:53:56.
6. Gecko (Tartan 41), Jim Fabrick, Laguna Beach, 160/227.

ALOHA DIVISION B (started June 25)

1. Axapac (Wylie 39), Barry Ruff, Vancouver, B.C., finished 13:23:55:26.
2. Stardust (Wylie 46), Peter and Patricia Anderson, Laguna Beach, finished
13:05:01:24.


Rich Roberts/News Editor
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