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27 June 2001, 10:56 am
Bonaire early leader as weather outlook improves
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Biennial Transpacific Yacht Race

One of the older boats with certainly the oldest crew had the early lead in the 41st Transpacific Yacht Race from Los Angeles to Hawaii.
The morning after the eight Aloha Division boats started off the Palos Verdes Peninsula in painfully light air, the 65-foot Moody-built ketch Bonaire from Newport Beach reported a position 2,096 nautical miles from the Diamond Head finish line - one mile closer than Jim Warmington's 75-foot Shanakee II. Shanakee II, from Balboa, had covered 169 miles to Bonaire's 138 in the 20 hours since the start, but the latter's northernmost position looked better on the charts. Shanakee II was launched in 2000, Bonaire in 1977.

Racing divisions III and IV will start Saturday, June 30, followed Sunday, July 1, by the larger Division I and II boats, all at 1 p.m. In all, 33 boats will be challenging the 2,225 nautical miles. Bonaire's crew knew what lay ahead. All are Transpac veterans - three over 70 - with a total of 22 Transpacs among them. They include two former Transpacific Yacht Club commodores, Gil Jones and James Eddy.

Earlier, the weather forecast for the race, according to communications officer Grant Baldwin, was "absolutely dismal," a point demonstrated from the start when the Aloha fleet took more than 18 minutes to cross the line. However, Baldwin said Tuesday morning after the first of two daily roll calls that several boats reported winds of 14 to 16 knots.

"I'm encouraged by that," Baldwin said. "The forecast now is significantly better. There's still a weak high-pressure [zone] close to the rhumb line but it is expected to reform above the rhumb line."

Among the eight Aloha boats, Wendy Siegal's Cal 40 Willow Wind from Sunset Beach, Calif., was farthest south and plotted to be farthest from the finish.

Standings on June 26:

1. Bonaire (Moody 65), Gil Jones and Associates, Newport Beach, 2,096
miles to go.
2. Shanakee II (Pedrick 75), Jim Warmington, Balboa, 2,097.
3. Gecko (Tartan 41), Jim Fabrick, Laguna Beach, 2,122.
4. Sea Dancer (Erickson 35), Al Wheatman, Marina del Rey, 2,131.
5. Seda (Erickson 41), Josef Sedivec, Bonita, Calif., 2,132.
6. Willow Wind (Cal 40), Wendy Siegal, Sunset Beach, Calif., 2,147.

1. Stardust (Wylie 46), Peter and Patricia Anderson, Laguna Beach, 2,115.
2. Axapac (Wylie 39), Barry Ruff, Vancouver, B.C., 2,130.

Rich Roberts/News Editor
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