Sixty-one boats, the largest fleet since 1985 and the tenth largest ever, are signed up to start the 42nd biennial Transpacific Yacht Race from Los Angeles to Honolulu in July.
Four that just made last week's final entry deadline reflect the character of this year's fleet: Dan SINCLAIR'S Andrews 70, Renegade, from Canada; Francisco GUZMAN'S J/145, Jeito, from Mexico; John HARRISON'S Cal 40, Seafire, from Honolulu, and Tom and Doug JORGENSEN'S 39-foot J/120, Hot Tamale, from California.
Big and small, old and new, and from everywhere on the map, this Transpac has it all. There are boats from 77 feet (Philippe KAHN'S defending Barn Door winner, Pegasus) to 31 feet (Greg NELSEN'S double-handed Black Soo 31, Starbuck) and from every corner of the U.S. and five foreign countries, including three from Australia. "It's very healthy that the fleet is so diverse,"
said Brad AVERY, the Transpacific Yacht Club commodore. "It's a grass roots phenomenon. People are starting to feel again that they can sail Transpac and win, no matter what kind of boat they have. It's not just a Grand Prix event."
Trophies will be awarded by divisions, and any boat is eligible to win the Governor of Hawaii Trophy for first overall on corrected handicap time. Division assignments are currently provisional and will be finalized within the next two or three weeks.
The match race for the Barn Door (fastest elapsed time) between Pegasus 77 and Roy E. DISNEY'S record holder, Pyewacket, will command international attention, but there figures to be lively competition in Divisions one to four, as well as among the Cal 40s and nine Aloha entries.
Harrison's entry boosted the Cal 40 group to 10 boats for the 40 anniversary celebration of its glory days when it dominated Transpac on corrected time for three successive races. "That's from the efforts of Wendy Siegal,"
Siegal, of Sunset Beach, Calif., sailed the only Cal 40, Willow Wind, when she won the Aloha class in 2001. Then she launched a campaign to round up a full fleet for 2003. Her biggest catch was Stan and Sally HONEY'S Illusion. Honey, himself a Transpac icon as a navigator, would normally be on Pyewacket but has given up his spot to another world-class competitor, Peter ISLER, to join the Cal 40 group.
Ironically, 40 years after its inception the Cal 40 is the first Transpac class devoted to a single production boat.
Transpac hasn't topped 60 entries since 64 boats raced in 1985. The record is 80 in 1979.