Maui Sports

Transpac Yacht Race Starts Today

July 3, 2017, 8:16 AM HST
* Updated July 3, 8:17 AM
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Today, dozens of boats will make the 2,225-mile journey from Point Fermin in Los Angeles to Diamond Head in the 49th biennial Transpacific Yacht Race, more commonly known as Transpac.

Transpac was originally inspired by King David Kalakaua to initiate the islands’ economic and cultural ties to the mainland. His yacht, Healani, won the first Challenge Trophy on July 4, 1889. During the years that the king was an active yachting enthusiast, it was his custom to invite the skippers and crews of the competing boats to join him at his boat house following the July 4 race. He would fill the Challenge Trophy, as it was originally named, with champagne and pass it around for all to enjoy; hence the trophy’s colloquial name—the Kalakaua Cup.

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There is currently one entry from Hawaiʻi: last Transpac winner, Grand Illusion, skippered by James McDowell. In 1999, 2011 and 2015, McDowell and Grand Illusion won the King Kalakaua Trophy, which is awarded to the first place overall yacht in corrected time.

There are currently 55 monohull and multihull entries from the US, Japan, Australia, Norway, Italy, Canada, Peru, England and Russia competing in this year’s race, ranging in size from 33 to 100 feet. There will be three separate waves that start today, Wednesday and Thursday.

“This year’s race attracted a strong turnout of new racers, including Ken Read with his 100-footer Comanche, navigated by well-known racer Stan Honey,” said Bo Wheeler, Commodore of the Transpacific and Kaneʻohe yacht clubs. “Read and crew will be seeking to add another elapsed time race record to Comanche’s outstanding record inventory. Weather permitting, Comanche will try to beat the current monohull course record of 5 days 14 hours 36 minutes 20 seconds, set by Alpha Romeo in 2005, and have her name recorded permanently on the Transpacific Honolulu Race Elapsed Time Trophy that was created and donated by Transpac veteran Roy Disney.”

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Wheeler said that Manouch Moshayedi’s 100-foot, fixed keel Rio 100 is back to defend and break her 2015 Barn Door Trophy victory for the first to finish monohull to cross the Diamond Head buoy. He added that the current multihull course record is also expected to be broken by contenders that include Lloyd Thornburg’s Phaedo3 and H L Enloe’s ORMA60 Mighty Merloe, among others. The bulk of the rest of the fleet will be competing for corrected time trophies in their classes.

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There will be traditional Aloha Welcoming parties as each boat crosses the finish line and a variety of celebratory events for all participants. (Full Transpac Race 2017 Event Schedule below.) The prestigious King Kalakaua Cup and other trophies will be handed out at the Honolulu Awards Ceremony at The Modern Honolulu ballroom on Friday, July 21.

Grand Illusion along other yacht entrants at the start line of the 2015 Transpac start 7.18.15 dg

Transpac Yacht Race. Courtesy image.

Grand Illusion at the 2015 Transpac start 7.18.15 dg. Courtesy image.

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