Even with high-profile competitors like Genuine Risk, Morning Glory, Pyewacket, Windquest and Magnitude 80 with professional crews at the top end, the 2005 fleet is heavily weighted toward smaller boats of weekend sailors who comprise more than half the fleet. Those include 14 Cal 40s marking the 40th anniversary of their breakthrough debut in the race with competitors ranging from circumnavigator Mark SCHRADER and Sally Lindsay HONEY's talented all woman crew to Lloyd SELLINGER's team of veterans all over age 65.
The entries represent nine countries, matching the record set in 2003.
All want to be part of the historic Centennial Transpac, which as centrepiece of Long Beach's Sea Festival will have a rousing send off from its new pre race Transpac Village home in downtown Rainbow Harbour, as well as the traditional individual aloha welcomes for all the boats in Waikiki.
The smaller boats will start on 11 July off the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Next on 15 July will come the middle classes and then the big boats on Sunday 17 July, sending the fastest in pursuit of the 'Barn Door' trophy for the fastest elapsed time and, if conditions are favourable, the monohull record of 7 days, 11 hours, 41 minutes and 27 seconds set by Roy E. DISNEY's former Pyewacket in 1999.
That record has never seemed so much in jeopardy. The race will mark the Transpac debut of the fastest boats ever to sail the race: the maxZ86s Pyewacket, Hasso PLATTNER's Morning Glory and Dick and Doug Devos's Windquest, plus Randall PITTMAN's Dubois 90, Genuine Risk, and Doug BAKER's Andrews 80, Magnitude 80. Although Windquest, with its slightly older technology, and the smaller Magnitude 80 will rate slightly slower, all are considered to be as much as a day faster than the record with similar conditions.
Genuine Risk is slightly longer and thereby faster than all but will power down to meet the special Transpac rating established earlier at the maxZ86 level. As configurations stand now, for purposes of corrected handicap time contention, Morning Glory is the scratch boat and will owe Genuine Risk one one-hundredth of a second per mile, only 23 seconds for the race. Pyewacket gets 92 seconds, and if it comes down to that it will be the wildest finish in race history.
The race also marks a change of pace for Philippe KAHN. His Pegasus maxi sleds were first to finish in the last two races, but this time he cares little about Barn Doors. With a new boat, KAHN will be the newest member of the Transpac 52 group, joining Charles BURNETT's Braveheart, Roger STURGEON's Rosebud and Fred DETWILER's Trader as representatives of that fast growing international class.
'Our team wanted to do something new and exciting,' KAHN said. 'The Transpac 52 class is pretty much level racing, so we will have four equally matched and identical boats racing to Honolulu. Then we'll race the Waikiki offshore series and the San Francisco Big Boat Series.'
'My prediction is that the Transpac 52 is the class for the next decade. When it comes to rating and performance these new smaller boats are similar to the classic Santa Cruz 70s. This is exciting because all these boats can basically compete boat for boat. However, you must remember that we have a brand new boat, so it will take us a bit to be competitive. I think that there are many other Transpac entries with a much greater chance at the overall trophy, which is really the most prestigious trophy of all.'
All 76 boats are eligible for the Governor of Hawaii and King Kalakaua trophies for first overall on corrected handicap time. Although ratings and class breaks are not yet announced, the smaller boats have gained leverage with the rating distance raised to 2,300 miles for this race, giving them a longer track to collect precious seconds owed them by bigger boats.
The former include the Cal 40s whose class predecessors won overall in 1965, 1967 and 1969, and seven J Boats. Psyche, Don SALISBURY's winning Cal 40 in 1965, is returning for the first time under her new owner, Steve CALHOUN. Two J/35s will compete among seven double-handed entries. One will be Transpac's first women's double-hander: Charmed Life, a Catalina 470 sailed by Patricia GARFIELD and Diane MURRAY.
Then there is the Aloha class for boats with heavier displacement or less race-rated technology. One is the 76th and final entry, Cesar DE SARACHO's new Jeanneau 54, Enchilado, from Mazatlan, one of three Mexican entries. DE SARACHO, 67, a retired tomato grower, will sail with Maria TERESA, his wife of 42 years, and their three grown children Cesar Jr., Ricardo and Anna Lucia.
'I've been thinking of doing it for years,' said DE SARACHO, a veteran racer in Mexico. 'The whole family wanted to do it.'
They almost waited too long. DE SARACHO had just taken delivery of the boat late last month when he phoned Robbie HAINES, the Transpac representative for San Diego, and said, 'I want to do the race . . . how do I do it?'
'Do you know the deadline is a week away?' HAINES replied.
With HAINES' help, DE SARACHO got his paperwork in order just in time.