Comanche has unfinished business with Wild Oats XI after being bested by just a few miles due to light airs in the middle of the course (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

Comanche has unfinished business with Wild Oats XI after being bested by just a few miles due to light airs in the middle of the course (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

 

As far as the America’s Cup winning skipper Jimmy Spithill is concerned, there is now unfinished business between Rolex Sydney Hobart line honours winner Wild Oats XI and the US supermaxi she beat across the finish line, Comanche.

Spithill was one of six helmsmen on Comanche.

“We can’t leave it at that,” he declared after finishing in Hobart. He says that on his watch this morning the boat reached a top speed of 32 knots and knows what she is capable of.

“Everybody got to see the true potential of this boat at the start. I remember looking up at Kenny (Ken Read, the skipper) and he just had this huge grin from ear to ear. Unfortunately we just didn’t see those sort of conditions again until the end of Bass Strait.”

COMANCHE (USA), 2nd across the line in the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race Finishish Line COMANCHE, Sail n: 12358, Bow n: 58, Design: Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp, Owner: Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, Skipper: Ken Read (Phot by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

COMANCHE (USA), 2nd across the line in the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race Finishish Line COMANCHE, Sail n: 12358, Bow n: 58, Design: Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp, Owner: Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, Skipper: Ken Read (Phot by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

Of course, young James doesn’t pay the bills. Logistically it is impossible for Comanche to come back to Australia next year but is 2016 likely?

Skipper Ken Read deferred to co-owner Kristy Hinze Clark who said it was a matter for the Big Chief, husband Jim Clark.

Ken: “Kristy, they want to know if we’ll be back next year?”

Kristy: “They’ll have to talk to big chief!”

Ken: “Big chief is not going to talk about that now!”

Read reflected on the crucial point of the race – the high-pressure ridge in Bass Strait.

“We were about a quarter of the way into Bass Strait and expecting a westerly breeze, and all of a sudden Stan (navigator Stan Honey) came up from down below and said ‘I just got a new weather file, this is not looking good’.

“We were two miles ahead of them, in bumpy seas, and they literally went by us, probably going a knot or two faster at the time, and they just sailed into more pressure and just kept extending on the whole fleet.

“Both boats sailed a flawless race; but they had their day. They had 12 hours where they had Wild Oats’ weather, but that’s racing.

“You can already see Comanche is already changing sailing as we speak,” Read said.

So after this first race have they identified any changes they will make to the boat?

“Here’s the start of my list,” he said, holding up a piece of paper with top-secret to-dos written on it.

“It’s brand new, we’re just starting. Before this race started, we didn’t know what we didn’t know. We knew we had a good boat right off the start line, the way it just took off on that windy reach.

“Unfortunately we’ve always known we had that one blemish in light air, and that became a dominant feature in the race, so that’s unfortunate for us.”

Designer Xavier Guilbaud said he couldn’t take his eyes off the yacht tracker, keeping notes as Comanche changed angles and the wind circled the compass.

And, he was a bit more forthcoming with his list.

“I’m excited to see Ken’s list, but on top of my own list, what I can see, is work on the weight of the boat to try to lighten her up a bit more, to increase performances in light winds,” he said.

“I’ll discuss with the guys here, a little later, the little bits and pieces on the deck to improve manoeuvres, how the boat is sailed. Then on the sail configuration; how to use each sail, in which condition and improve the sail shapes.

“I think we do have a record breaker on our hands. The real answer will be in June next year when it does the Transatlantic Race. I think the boat is really fast.”

Read was effusive in his praise of the Wild Oats’ crew.

“Wild Oats deserves all its success,” he said, though fate had been against them on Day 2 in Bass Strait when Wild Oats made the better of negotiating a weather ridge that proved the defining moment of the race.

“This was their day; they had their 12 hours; they had Wild Oats’ weather; but that is boat racing,” he said.

“They deserve their eighth record, Lord knows we tried hard to take it from them. This team, our team, did an unbelievable job, and special credit to the boat builders and the design team because Lord knows we tried to break it, and it wouldn’t break.”

By Bruce Montgomery, RSHYR Media

 WILD OATS XI (AUS) set the actual racecourse record in 2012 Race Start - WILD OATS XI, Sail n: AUS10001, Bow n: XI, Design: Reichel Pugh 100, Owner: Robert Oatley, Skipper: Mark Richards  (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

WILD OATS XI (AUS) set the actual racecourse record in 2012 Race Start – WILD OATS XI, Sail n: AUS10001, Bow n: XI, Design: Reichel Pugh 100, Owner: Robert Oatley, Skipper: Mark Richards (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

 

Wild Oats XI  leads the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart fleet in for a record eighth line honours win.  Wild Oats Xi finished the race in a time of  :  2 Days,  2 Hours,  3 Minutes and 26 seconds.

The only yacht capable of denying Wild Oats XI and Mark Richards an 8th win and a place in history was the American Maxi Comanche.  Ken Read and crew gave their best but weren’t able to close the 10 mile gap in the final stretch through Storm Bay and the Derwent River and to the finish line in Hobart, Tasmania.

The Mark Richards-skippered Wild Oats XI extended her lead throughout the second night, taking advantage of a high-pressure ridge in the Bass Strait. Wild Oats XI’s lead proved to big for the Comanche team to overcome.

COMANCHE (USA) crashing through the waves on the way south to Tasmania Race Start COMANCHE, Sail n: 12358, Bow n: 58, Design: Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp, Owner: Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, Skipper: Ken Read (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

COMANCHE (USA) crashing through the waves on the way south to Tasmania Race Start COMANCHE, Sail n: 12358, Bow n: 58, Design: Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp, Owner: Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, Skipper: Ken Read (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

The remainder of the fleet are compressed coming down the New South Wales coast and expected to benefit from the dramatic increase in breeze forecast from Sunday evening to Monday morning.

Of the 117 yachts which started the race, nice have been forced to retire. The Maxi Perpetual Loyal

Follow the race on the live tracker:

http://www.rolexsydneyhobart.com/tracker/

 

 

Photo By: Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi

Photo By: Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi

 

Opera House and Harbour Bridge as impressive background for the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart (Phot by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Opera House and Harbour Bridge as impressive background for the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart (Phot by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Seven hours into the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Jim Clark’s 100-ft Maxi Comanche(USA) leads the fleet. A memorable edition of the 628-nm race appears certain, with the contest between the fleet’s five Maxi yachts living up to the pre-race hype.
At 8:00pm local time, Comanche leads seven-time line honours winner Wild Oats XI by one nautical mile, with Anthony Bell’s Perpetual Loyal and Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin 100 just a few miles behind the leading duo. Overnight the breeze is forecast to lighten as a high pressure system approaches. How the frontrunners navigate this transition could be a critical factor in their race.

Comanche makes mark

Racing COMANCHE, Sail n: 12358, Bow n: 58, Design: Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp, Owner: Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, Skipper: Ken Read (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

Racing COMANCHE, Sail n: 12358, Bow n: 58, Design: Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp, Owner: Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, Skipper: Ken Read (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

A fleet of 117 international yachts graced today’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race start. The thousands of spectators lining the shoreline in Sydney were treated to a dramatic start as the leading yachts powered their way out of Sydney Harbour and began the famous 628-nautical mile offshore race to Hobart.

Celebrations for the 70th edition of the race commenced with a Parade of Sail of historic Rolex Sydney Hobart competitors before the race start. A fitting tribute to the race, which has become an international icon since its inauguration in 1945.
Comanche had an incredible start reaching the first course mark at record speed.  Race record holder Wild Oats XI gallantly tried to keep pace, watching in awe as Comanche laid down an early indicator of her potential. “Look at that thing go!,” screamed Wild Oats XI skipper Mark Richards.

WILD OATX XI (AUS) SAILING TOWARDS HOBART  Racing WILD OATS XI, Sail n: AUS10001, Bow n: XI, Design: Reichel Pugh 100, Owner: Robert Oatley, Skipper: Mark Richards (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster )

WILD OATX XI (AUS) SAILING TOWARDS HOBART Racing WILD OATS XI, Sail n: AUS10001, Bow n: XI, Design: Reichel Pugh 100, Owner: Robert Oatley, Skipper: Mark Richards (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster )

“We couldn’t be more ready at this stage,” admitted Comanche skipper Ken Read shortly before the race start. “The team has done a Herculean effort to get the boat ready. We are here to compete, it’s the fun part of our job.”

“Going into a southerly the first night is always a bit of a challenge,” said Mark Richards going into the race. “(The boat) being ten years old though is a little bit of an advantage for us as we know the boat very well.”

MANOUCH MOSHAYEDI'S RIO 100 (USA), ONE OF FIVE 100FT MAXIS IN CONTENTION  Race Start RIO 100, Sail n: USA2121, Bow n: 98, Design: Bakewell-White 100, Owner: Manouch Moshayedi, Skipper: Manouch Moshayedi (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

MANOUCH MOSHAYEDI’S RIO 100 (USA), ONE OF FIVE 100FT MAXIS IN CONTENTION Race Start RIO 100, Sail n: USA2121, Bow n: 98, Design: Bakewell-White 100, Owner: Manouch Moshayedi, Skipper: Manouch Moshayedi (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

Shortly after the start, Peter Isler, navigator on Manouch Moshayedi’s RIO 100 reported: “We are definitely learning our boat in these conditions. It’s very rough, sailing upwind in 25-27 knots, pounding hard into short, steep waves.”

The rough conditions have proved demanding for a number of the fleet with four retirements already recorded.

The race record for leading yachts to beat is 1 day, 18 hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds, set by Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI in 2012.

The Rolex Sydney Hobart is organised by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) and has been sponsored by Rolex since 2002.

Follow the progress of the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht fleet at: http://www.rolexsydneyhobart.com/tracker/

MATT ALLEN'S ICHI BAN DURING THE FIRST EVENING OF THE RACE  Racing ICHI BAN, Sail n: AUS01, Bow n: O1, Design: Carkeek 60, Owner: Matt Allen, Skipper: Matt Allen (Photo by Rolex/Daniel Forster)

MATT ALLEN’S ICHI BAN DURING THE FIRST EVENING OF THE RACE Racing ICHI BAN, Sail n: AUS01, Bow n: O1, Design: Carkeek 60, Owner: Matt Allen, Skipper: Matt Allen (Photo by Rolex/Daniel Forster)

 

Wild Oats XI (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

Wild Oats XI (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

Entries for the 70th edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race officially closed on the evening of Friday 31 October. The resulting line-up of 119 yachts – set to be the event’s largest in a decade – is befitting of such a historic occasion. The presence of five 100 foot Maxis will steal the news headlines, but the impressive nature of the fleet stretches far beyond the fastest boats. Adding lustre to the occasion are a host of yachts that have won the race before, ten international entrants, and an array of Australian crews spearheaded by sailors with over 40 editions of the race to their name.

In keeping with tradition the race starts at 13:00 local time on 26 December, Boxing Day, from Sydney Harbour. The destination is Hobart, Tasmania over a famous 628-nautical mile racecourse. The competition has been sponsored by Rolex since 2002 and forms an integral part of its triumvirate of offshore races comprising the Rolex Fastnet Race and the Rolex Middle Sea Race.

Comanche raider

At the front of the fleet, the quest for line honours promises to be open and competitive. Bob Oatley’s 100-ft Wild Oats XI has been the fastest yacht on the water in seven of the last nine race editions. Experience, guile and knowledge of the conditions ensure the Mark Richards-skippered yacht starts as favourite in the race to be first to finish.

Comanche VPLP 100 (Photo © George Bekris)

Comanche VPLP 100 (Photo © George Bekris)

Anthony Bell, line honours winner in 2011, will be one of those hoping to knock Wild Oats XI off her stride. His yacht Perpetual Loyal has strong pedigree in the race and an excellent crew, which includes 2010 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Tom Slingsby.

Comanche VPLP 100 (Photo © George Bekris)

Comanche VPLP 100 (Photo © George Bekris)

A layer of the unknown has been introduced with the entry from the United States of Jim Clark’s Comanche. Clark has made a bold statement – shipping his brand new 100 foot Ken Read-skippered yacht to Sydney immediately following its October launch in New England. This will be the boat’s first race – the ultimate baptism of fire! Clark has sought to dilute expectations, asserting Comanche was not designed with the Rolex Sydney Hobart in mind, and pointing to a lack of preparation time: “The boat and crew will have had only a couple of weeks on the water before we ship it to Australia. There’s a lot of work to do before the race start. In the short term, I don’t have high expectations, but in the long term, I think this boat could really set a mark.”

COMANCHE FIRST SAIL VIDEO 

The fourth 100-ft Maxi to watch is Ragamuffin 100. Owner Syd Fischer, at 87 years of age and with 45 Rolex Sydney Hobarts to his name, has virtually rebuilt  Ragamuffin 100 fitting its original deck to a new hull. The ultimate competitor, including line honours winner at the Rolex China Sea Race last April, he has more knowledge of the race than almost any other entrant. Completing the line up of 100 foot Maxis, is the outsider – American entrant RIO 100 previously competed in the race under the guise of Lahana and counts expert American navigator Peter Isler as part of its crew.

Chasing Victoire

The history of the Rolex Sydney Hobart proves that the overall winner of the race can come from anywhere within the fleet. Prevailing conditions often determine whether the larger or smaller yachts are favoured. In 2013, Darryl Hodgkinson’s 50-ft Victoire claimed victory following in the wake of a diverse range of recent winners Two True (40-ft, 2009), Loki (60-ft, 2011) and Wild Oats XI (100-ft, 2012). Victoire is seeking to become the first boat to successfully retain the Tattersall’s Cup since the mid-1960s.

International influence

In keeping with its international reputation and wide global interest, the Rolex Sydney Hobart always welcomes an array of foreign entrants who have to overcome the added logistical challenge of shipping or sailing their boat to Sydney. Along with American entrants Comanche andRIO 100, yachts from the Cayman Islands, Germany, New Zealand, Poland and the United Kingdom add foreign glamour to the 119-strong fleet.

NIKATA  in heavy seas (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

NIKATA in heavy seas (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

Festive atmosphere

Pre-race celebrations will include a Parade of Sail of historic Rolex Sydney Hobart entrants before hundreds of thousands of spectators ashore and on the water in Sydney. The race start will be broadcast live throughout Australia and also webcast live to a global audience. Given the wide interest in this 70th edition, victory will have an extra coat of fulfilment.

Bella Mente Line Honors Winner (Photo by John Payne)The 38th Annual Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race official results are in!  A determined Osita crossed the finish line at 7:15 am. The race started in 10+ knots of SE breeze, then lightened up and got shifty.  Finally, for the second half of the fleet, a cold front rolled through with 30+ knot out of the N seen by several of the competitors.  Thirty two boats started the race, while twenty six sailed to the finish. Bella Mente, Hap Fauth’s Mini Maxi was first across the line for an IRC class win and sailed only 160.9nm on a 160nm course, which earned them the “Best Overall Performance” Award as well. See all the final race results here.

SPOT tracking is officially part of all SORC events. It allows the friends and family to keep track of the race with real time position updates. Click here to watch the tracking replay from the start of this race.

There is one more SORC event this season: the 2013 Pineapple Cup Montego Bay Race starting February 8, 2013.

Want to be a sponsor? Levels of sponsorship are available. Contact sponsorship@sorcsailing.org for more info.

The SORC is a Florida non-profit organization driven by a select group of volunteers that bring professional event management, sailing , racing and other skills to the organization. The SORC mission is to lead the expansion of offshore competitive sailing in South Florida by providing the highest level of race organization, management and promotions for those that enjoy the sport of ocean sailing. Learn more at www.sorcsailing.org.

Place, Yacht Name, Yacht Type, Owner/Skipper, City, State, Country, Results, Total Points

Ft. Lauderdale-Key West – IRC Course

IRC (IRC – 8 Boats)
1. Bella Mente, Judel-Vrolijk Mini Maxi, Hap Fauth , Minneapolis, MN, USA, 1; 1
2. SPOOKIE, Carkeek HP 40, Steve & Heidi Benjamin , Norwalk, CT, USA, 2; 2
3. Decision, HPR Carkeek 40, Stephen Murray , New Orleans, LA, USA, 3; 3
4. Rebecca, J 120, Glenn Gault , League City, TX, USA, 4; 4
5. Thin Ice, Aerodyne 38, Stuart Hebb / John Vincent , Coral Gables, FL, USA, 5; 5
6. Arethusa, Swan 42, Phil Lotz , Newport, RI, USA, 6; 6
7. Rim Shot, Beneteau First 36.7, Russell Dunn , Hollywood, FL, USA, 7; 7
8. Dragon, Class 40, Michael Hennessy , New York, NY, USA, 8; 8

Ft. Lauderdale-Key West – PHRF Course

PHRF A (PHRF – 7 Boats)
1. Different Drummer, Cape Bay Fast 40, Frank Atkinson , West Palm Beach, FL, USA, 1; 1
2. Teamwork, J 122, Robin Team , Lexington, NC, USA, 2; 2
3. Loki, J 105, David Bond , Miami, FL, USA, 3; 3
4. Main Squeeze, Tripp 33, Eamonn deLisser / James Bill , Coral Gables, FL, USA, 4; 4
5. Constellation, Nautor Swan 48-1, Greg Petrat , Sarasota, FL, USA, 5; 5
6. Batucada, Schock 35, Cornelius Sanders , Miami, FL, USA, 6; 6
7. Ace, Cutter 65, Frank Pingitore , Miami , FL, USA, 8/DNF; 8

PHRF B (PHRF – 6 Boats)
1. Mirage, Hobie 33, Christian Schaumloffel , Virginia Beach, VA, USA, 1; 1
2. Bandana, Oyster 48, David Wallace , Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA, 2; 2
3. Commotion, Beneteau 461, Ross Hunton , Coral Springs, FL, USA, 3; 3
4. Walloon, C&C 35 Mark I, Com. Richard D. Grow , Palm Beach , FL, USA, 7/DNF; 7
5. Sempre Amantes, Hunter Pasage 42, Colin Whittaker , Margate, FL, USA, 7/DNF; 7
6. Soap Opera, Hobie 33, Scott Self , Rockwall, TX, USA, 7/DNS; 7

PHRF C (PHRF – 7 Boats)
1. Sunquest, Sloop, Wilfredo Paredes , Miami, FL, USA, 1; 1
2. Susimi, Sweden 370, Michael Carrington , Lighthouse Point, FL, USA, 2; 2
3. Grand Cru, Beneteau 393, Danny Escobar , Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA, 3; 3
4. Vendaval, Dufour 34, Oscar Valdes , Miami Lakes, FL, USA, 4; 4
5. Osita, Tartan 40, Becky Lyons , Miami, FL, USA, 5; 5
6. Passion, Catalina 34, Brett Grover , Jesup, GA, USA, 8/DNS; 8
7. Kokomo, Swan 36, Brad Lonstein , Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA, 8/DNS; 8

Ft. Lauderdale-Key West – PHRF Multihull Course

Multihull A (PHRF – 7 Boats)
1. Elvis, Gunboat, Jason Carroll , New York, NY, USA, 1; 1
2. Sundog, Seacart 30, Paul Parks , Shady Side, MD, USA, 2; 2
3. Flight Simulator, Corsair 28R, Tom Reese , Youngstown, NY, USA, 3; 3
4. Tri-Vector, Dragonfly 35, David Otto , Miami Beach, FL, USA, 4; 4
5. Double Trouble, Catana 58, Don Balthaser , Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA, 8/DNF; 8
6. Brake Aweigh, Trimaran, Richard VandeBrake , Lowell, MI, USA, 8/DNF; 8
7. CatNip, Catamaran 35, Victor Mendelsohn , Miami, FL, USA, 8/DNF; 8

 

Flash at the finish (Photo courtesy of Transpac 2009)

Flash at the Start of Transpac 2009 (Photo courtesy of Transpac 2009)

 

Tom Akin had a lot to say about sailing Flash, a TP 52, to Hawaii.  His initial comments were, “I found out what is its like to be in a TP52 for seven days.  You sit in water, you eat in water, and you sleep in water.  It’s wet.  The beast is not as luxurious as my Santa Cruz 52.  I was looking for a creature comfort and couldn’t find one.”

 

Akin, his crew and Jeff Thorpe, Criminal Mischief’s navigator, worked non-stop over a very short period of time to get Flash into racing condition.  From the time the boat arrived in Long Beach, two weeks before the start, until the evening before they took off, the deck was strewn with rigging materials, sealants and tools.  The work that they did paid off.  With more than half of the Transpac fleet safely docked in Honolulu, Flash sits second in class and second in fleet.

Akin had nothing but praise for each and every individual who sailed Transpac 09 on Flash.  As their Aloha party wound to a close, Akin rose to the occasion and thanked them.  He started by saying, “You’ll always have a special affinity for a boat that takes you 2,500 miles.  It’s a bond that we’ll never forget.  We did a lot of really good things and we have to be happy with that.  If someone had told me that we would be sitting in the second in class, second in fleet position a few months ago, I would have told him he was crazy.”

Flash held the lead on corrected time for much of the race while Samba was “zigzagging all over the place,” said Paul Cayard.  “We were pleasantly surprised to be in the lead.  During the last two days, they got it sorted out and put on the afterburners and put 40 miles a day on us.”

 

Flash at the Dock (Photo courtesy of Transpac 2009)

Flash at the Dock (Photo courtesy of Transpac 2009)

 

Allie Cayard, the youngest and the only female on board said, “There was never a dull moment.  There was always something to be fixed.”  Allie sailed with her brother and father, Paul.  She also noted how calm it was dockside compared to out on the Pacific Ocean sailing the world’s most enduring and greatest ocean race

Alpha Romeo (Photo Courtesy of Alpha Romeo.com.au)

Alpha Romeo (Photo Courtesy of Alpha Romeo.com.au)

Honolulu, HI (July 11, 2009) – Alfa Romeo, Neville Crichton’s Reichel Pugh 100, set a new elapsed time record for monohulls in the Transpacific Yacht Race by making the 2,225-nautical mile crossing in 5 days, 14 hours, 36 minutes and 20 seconds (subject to ratification).  The sixteen-man crew beat the previous course record set by Hasso Plattner’s Morning Glory in 2005 of 6:16:04:11 by over a day.  Alfa Romeo II crossed the finish line at 00:36:20 am HST on Saturday.

Crichton, who lived in Hawaii for a period of time and sailed his first and only Transpacific Yacht Race prior to this one 30 years ago.  Crichton’s sailing program has changed considerably since 1979 when he raced in a 42-footer and finished eighth in a 22-boat fleet.  Crichton and his fleet of Alfa Romeo sailboats have taken line honors in 171 races.  Crichton’s wins include races considered the Holy Grail of offshore racing – the Fastnet and the Sydney Hobart.  Crichton looking forward to the Sydney Hobart Race said, “There will be six 100-footers in the race.  Five are certainly are capable of winning the race.”

Following the win when Team Manager, Murray Spence, was asked to elaborate on what it took to prepare the boat and team for the race, Crichton stole the microphone and responded, “Money.”  Everybody laughed and no one could argue.  Crichton said that he was very happy with the race.  “We had no mechanical problems: not one.”

Crichton’s team included Stan Honey, Ben Ainslie, Michael Coxon, David Endean, Ryan Godfrey, Stan Honey, Andrew Hutchinson, Phil Jameson, Lance Jenkins, Gavin McPherson, Peter Merrington, Murray Spence, Craig Sattherwaite, Joao Signorini, David Rolfe, Tony Mutter and Alfa’s shore crew, Ian Goldsworthy.

Honey, who has a 50% batting average when it comes to winning the Transpac.  He boosts his Transpac wins to 11 with Transpac 2009.  Among the Transpac records that Honey set are the fastest corrected time of any singlehanded sailor in a monohull (set in 1994 on Illusion, a Cal 40 and superseded), the fastest Transpac passage in a monohull of any singlehanded sailor; and the fastest passage in a monohull (set in 1999 on Pyewacket, a Santa Cruz 70, in 1999, also superseded.)  Honey has also been aboard fastest passage and fastest 24-hour runs in the Atlantic as a crew on ABNAmro One, a Juan K VOR 70 and Playstation, a Morrelli & Melvin catamaran.  Those records have been superseded.  Honey is on call with Franck Cammas and Groupama to go for a ’round the world record.

Honey’s comment on his Transpacific crossing aboard Alfa Romeo and the weather conditions that enabled the team to break the previously set 24-hour run record in the Transpac, established in 2005 by Morning Glory , was “We had steady winds.  We never had a slow spot.”  During Transpac 09, Alfa Romeo had a 399-mile day, a 423-mile day and a 393-mile day.

When asked when he knew that Mother Nature had given Alfa Romeo the conditions to set a new course record, Honey said, “About three days before the start.”  The weather shaped up perfectly for the 100-footer.
During the race, Murray Spence, the team manager, the reported, “The Volvo guys on board are saying that this sailing is their reward for toughing it out around the world. This sailing is definitely a long way from sailing upwind in 45 knots with 3 degree temperature.”  Over half a dozen members of the record-breaking team fly directly from the completion of the 2008/09 Volvo Ocean Race and having set 24-hour monohull records on Ericsson 4, a Volvo Open 70.  

Transpac 09 was the first distance race in the open ocean that America’s Cup helmsman, Ben Ainslie, has sailed.  Ainslie got the team off to a roaring start when he nailed the pin at the start of the race on July 5 off of Point Fermi, the southernmost point in Los Angeles.

After the team received their leis and were chauffeured in vintage Alfa Romeo cars from a dock at  Aloha Tower, romantic island gateway for the steamships that delivered travelers to Hawaii in the early 20th century.Tom Garrett, Vice Commodore of the Transpacific Yacht Club welcomed the sailors by saying, “It’s one thing to beat a record, it’s another thing to obliterate it.” 

Mark Hazlett, the Chair of the 600-member Honolulu Committee from three clubs gave Crichton and his crew a genuine Hawaiian Aloha welcome when he said,”Welcome back to Waikiki Yacht Club.”  Crichton, who lived in Hawaii for a number of years was a member of the club.  Garrett introduced Crichton and the crew to the newly deeded Merlin Trophy and invited Crichton to visit Newport Beach for a formal presentation of the Clock Trophy.  The several hundred pound trophy permanently resides at the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum.

Following a press conference, the team and the well-wishers kicked off the first Hawaiian Aloha party of Transpac 09. Cades Schutte LLP and Jimmy Buffett’s Restaurant & Bar hosted the party at Waikiki Yacht Club.

Among the many trophies that Crichton’s Alfa Romeo team, also the top foreign entry in Transpac 09, will claim are:  The Merlin Trophy for the fastest elapsed time for the Unlimited Class of yachts competing in the Transpac Race. The Unlimited Class yachts are RSS 51 and 52 waiver yachts (exempt from the Racing Rules of Sailing limitations on movable ballast and/or stored power) up to 100 feet with the shortest elapsed time.  These boats are ineligible for the Barn Door Trophy. The trophy, built by Ken Gardiner, is a scale model of Merlin, the famed Bill Lee-designed 68-footer.  

Crichton will have the honor of setting back the Clock Trophy, or the Transpacific Yacht Club New Course Record trophy.  The Clock Trophy was donated by Roy E. Disney and is awarded to any monohull yacht that establishes a new elapsed time course record.  Tradition calls for the winner of the trophy to reset the clock to show the new course record. Hasso Plattner’s Morning Glory established the current course record of 6:16:04:11in 2005.  Unlimited Class yachts are eligible for the Merlin Trophy and the Clock Trophy, but are not eligible for the Barn Door Trophy.

The remaining 46 boats in the fleet are racing toward Hawaii and hoping to win elapsed time and corrected time honors within their divisions in addition to numerous other awards for completing and competing in the world’s most enduring and greatest ocean race.

Division 3,4 and 5 Start Line July 2nd (Photo Courtesy of Transpac 2009)

Division 3,4 and 5 Start Line July 2nd (Photo Courtesy of Transpac 2009)

The July 3rd Daily Standings as of 0600 PDT for Transpac 09 have the Spanish crew aboard Charisma leading the charge to Hawaii.  Charisma is 1,734 nautical miles from Hawaii and over 150 miles ahead of her nearest competitor in Division VII, Between the Sheets, a Jeanneau 50.  The doublehanded sailors aboard Relentless continue to set the pace in Division 6.  They have stretched their lead to 10 miles over the Canadian boat, Narrow Escape.  

Lynx, the heavy tall ship, has only chipped about 220 miles off of the vast 2,225-nautical mile journey. 

Relentless 2 and Viggo Torbensen’s TP52 crew from Dana Point burst out of the gates the fastest among all of the Division III, IV and V boats that started at 1300 on July 2nd.  They logged over 130 nautical miles from the start to their 0600 check in.  Free Range Chicken, Bruce Anderson’s Perry 59 and by far the most comfortable ride to Hawaii in Transpac 09, is out in front in Division III along with Bengal 7, Yoshihiko Murase’s carbon fiber Ohashi 46.

Gib Black’s thirty-year old Santa Cruz 52, Roy’s Chasch Mer is leading Division V and is just a few miles out in front of Passion.  Black and the crew discovered that their shaft strut had cracked wide open hours before our starting gun. They went through our limited parts and tool kits, found dive gear, parts and even machined some others to repair the problem.  Says Black, “(We have) a bit more drag at the prop now, but we are moving AND we made our start. Nice start at that.”

Estimated arrivals for the boats are anywhere from 14 days to 30 days.

Division 3,4 and 5 Started July 2nd.
Thursday’s Aloha Send-off from Transpac Pier at Rainbow Harbor in Long Beach was picture perfect.  

Tachyon III, Kanzunori Komatu’s Santa Cruz 52, with members of the Japanese Olympic Sailing Team on board, led the parade out of the basin.   Like each of the 18 Transpac 09 race boats that followed, Tachyon III was escorted out of Rainbow Harbor’s entrance by paddlers from the Kahakai Canoe Club.  Free Range Chicken, Bruce Anderson’s deluxe Perry 59, was the final Transpac race boat to leave the pier.  As she streamed away from the dock, the crew showered their escorts with fresh fuschia-colored leis.  Long Beach added more pageantry to the send-off by having Navy seals sky dive from a blimp and splash down in between the end of the pier and the Queen Mary.

The 19-boat fleet of 45 to 60-foorters rushed the starting line.  They were amped up with anticipation and testosterone and shot out of the blocks on their way to Ala Wai and Transpac Row.  The pin was the coveted spot and Criminal Mischief, the grey-hulled boat with a crimson-shirted team roared past the pin.  Thinking that they were a bit too early, they bore away and returned to the line to exonerate themselves.  Just up off of their starboard hip was Wasabi, one of the Mexican entries, and Bengal 7, one of three Japanese entries.  Cipango, Relentless and Passion, all US boats, were just to weather of the pack at the pin.  The rest of the fleet was spread out evenly across the starting line all the way up to the committee boat.