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25 July 2005, 10:00 am
Morning Glory Smashes Transpac Record
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Transpacific Yacht Race 2005

Hasso PLATTNER's Morning Glory, sliding smoothly through a moonlit sea, finished the Centennial Transpacific Yacht Race in moderate winds just after 0200 hours local time on Sunday to smash the record held by his nearest rival, Roy DISNEY's Pyewacket.
Although it was not a particularly windy Transpac, the maxZ86s proved their slippery power. The German boat's time for the 2,225 nautical miles was 6 days, 16 hours, 4 minutes and 11 seconds, lopping almost a day off the record of DISNEY'S previous Pyewacket in 1999.

Both PLATTNER and DISNEY, in his 15th and final Transpac, were sailing futuristic maxZ86s in the centennial sailing of the event and both broke DISNEY's race record of 7 days, 11 hours, 41 minutes and 11 seconds set in 1999, but PLATTNER's Morning Glory was two and a half hours faster than DISNEY's fourth and last Pyewacket, whose elapsed time was 6 days, 18 hours, 32 minutes and 25 seconds.

Their average speeds were 13.9 and 13.7 knots for the 2,225 nautical miles from California's Palos Verdes Peninsula to the volcanic landmark called Diamond Head just east of Waikiki. Randall PITTMAN's Genuine Risk, a Dubois 90 with similar lines, also beat the record with an elapsed time of 6:22:02:35, and Doug BAKER's Magnitude 80 and Doug DEVOS' Windquest were expected to join the club later in the day.

Their performances were remarkable because it was not a very windy Transpac. Grant BALDWIN, the retiring communications chief, referred repeatedly to 'wimpy trade winds,' and Peter ISLER, who co-navigated Morning Glory with Ian MOORE, said, 'We didn't see 20 knots [of breeze] until the Molokai Channel.'

And yet the maxZ86s often exceeded that speed along the way.

'These boats are fantastic,' PLATTNER said. 'With the canting keels we have less weight and better righting moment. It's a pity that more people aren't joining in.'

ISLER said, 'This boat goes so fast effortlessly it's amazing . . . 21, 22, 23 knots, and you don't have the sensation of speed you have on a smaller boat. Everybody got a lot of sleep. It's a pretty painless way to go on this boat in these [relatively mild] conditions.'

It was the longest race ever sailed by Russell COUTTS (NZL), the three time America's Cup winner who sailed as a watch captain with Morgan LARSON and said, 'I really enjoyed it. It's pretty easy to go 20 knots.'

LARSON joked, 'It's not fair. It shouldn't be allowed. It's too fast.'

Morning Glory led most of the way after the three top boats surprised some observers by going their own ways as soon as they passed Santa Catalina Island 22 miles off the California coast.

'We stayed together for the first five hours,' PLATTNER said, smiling. 'Then we saw that Pyewacket was going north and we were heading south. Then the next day we swapped.'

The gamesmanship continued until Genuine Risk dropped off the pace and Morning Glory was able to put Pyewacket behind it by as much as 71 miles, but then Pyewacket steadily cut that deficit in half the last couple of days.

'It was great fun until the last minutes when we had a little adrenaline rush with Pyewacket,' PLATTNER said. 'When they came back [Saturday] we were worried.'

ISLER sailed the previous race on Pyewacket when Philippe KAHN's Pegasus ducked south early to gain an edge it never relinquished. Asked if he was thinking about that, ISLER said, 'Oh, yeah. Having got stung once by just relying on [technical data], we relied more on what was the best path to take.'

PLATTNER drove the windiest part of the race the final night through the Molokai Channel to the finish, but Morning Glory was a rare Transpac sight when it passed Diamond Head without flying a spinnaker. PLATTNER and ISLER explained that they overstood by delaying their final jibe to be sure they could lay the finishing buoy and had to sail too high an angle to keep the asymmetrical chute filled.

'But we still crossed the line doing 16 knots,' ISLER said.

More key middle-of-the-night finishes loomed on the horizon. KAHN's new boat, the Transpac 52 Pegasus, had an ETA around midnight Monday night to secure its bid for the King Kalakaua Trophy for first overall on handicap time, currently holding a 33 minute edge on Roger STURGEON's Rosebud and six hours on Morning Glory.

Davis PILLSBURY's Ralphie, with a 69 mile lead in the Cal 40s, was due at 0231 Monday, and Challenged America's B'Quest team of sailors with disabilities, now sailing two crew short, was looking at 0400 in Division V.

The title outcome in that class was settled Sunday when the double-handed Soap Opera from Texas finished at 1110 with solid leads over Cliff THOMPSON's Super Gnat in miles and handicap time.

Making the most of a six day head start on the big boats, Ross PEARLMAN's Jeanneau 52, Between the Sheets, repeated as the Aloha A class winner by a mere 8 minutes and 10 seconds over Odyssey after outrunning the 68 year old yawl the last two days. Both boats preceded Morning Glory across the line.

Out in front of all the other boats except Odyssey most of the race, PEARLMAN said he ignored conventional Transpac wisdom of going south to avoid the notoriously light winds of the Pacific High. .

'We went rhumb line,' he said. 'We did not go south. [In that sense], we split from the fleet and had our conditions.'

Rich Roberts. Image, Morning Glory owner/skipper Hasso PLATTNER (centre) and his victorious, record setting Transpac crew:© UnderTheSunPhotos.com
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