World-renowned yachtsman Neville Crichton returns to Transpac Race course after thirty years
March 3, 2009—- Three decades after his first – and only – Transpacific Yacht Race, Neville Crichton will return to the 2,225-mile course from Los Angeles to Honolulu, aboard the supermaxi Alfa Romeo.
“It has taken me the best part of 30 years to get back to the Transpac Race, but I can’t wait,” said Crichton, a pre-eminent yachtsman and 2003 Yachting New Zealand Sailor of the Year.
Neville Crichton was the skipper of the 42-foot Uin-Na-Mara in Transpac 1979, finishing eighth in the 22-boat B Class. “We were up with the frontrunners until the middle of the race when the winds turned against us – something we will be lot better equipped to avoid this year!”
This summer he returns to the Pacific in Alfa Romeo, the 100-foot Reichel Pugh design some call ‘the fastest yacht in the world’ … certainly the fastest monohull ever to grace the Transpac race course. And after dominating the racing scene in Europe (having won line honors in 139 races to date) Crichton no doubt has his eye on Transpac line honors too, and hopes of upsetting the monohull record of 6 days 19 hours 4 minutes 11 seconds set in 2005 by Hasso Plattner’s Morning Glory.
“Given the right winds, I firmly believe the race record is achievable, something we could only dream about back in 1979!” Crichton adds. “Alfa Romeo has clearly established itself as the yacht to beat in Europe and, after all our success in Europe, the Transpac will provide our team with a fresh challenge and a race that is unlike anything in which we have competed in Europe, in terms of both the event and our competitors.”
Alfa Romeo will compete in the new “Unlimited” division of RSS 52 waiver yachts (exempt from the Racing Rules of Sailing limitations on stored power) up to 100 feet in length. This class does not qualify for the Transpacific Yacht Club Perpetual Trophy (AKA ‘Barn Door’) but instead a newly deeded trophy which will debut this summer.
It marks a momentous homecoming for the 63-year-old yachtsman and automobile importer, who purchased his first boat at age 11 from change collected gathering and selling empty beer bottles in his native New Zealand; and who later moved to Hawaii for several years.
Crichton’s passion is typical of Transpac racers: once they’ve had a taste of the competition and downwind thrills, they come back again and again – and from all over the world. Other returning entrants include Ruahatu, from Mexico; Lawndart, Canada; Bengal 7, Japan; and Hawaii’s Ragtime – competing in a record 14 Honolulu Races. Forty-eight yachts have already entered this 45th running of the Transpacific Yacht Race, with Close of Entries still two months off (May 27). Transpac 2009 starts begin Monday June 29 with subsequent starts for faster rated boats Thursday July 2 and Sunday July 5.