Honolulu, Hi (July 16, 2009) - She’s a showstopper! Lindsey Austin knows how to stage her returns to Hawaii. During the 2007 Transpacific Yacht Race, Austin returned home to be crowned the youngest division winner in Transpac history. On Wednesday evening, Austin and the Addiction crew swooped into Ala Wai and stoked the flames of the sold out 800-person Mount Gay Rum Party at Hawaii Yacht Club. Addiction, with its battle flag fluttering from the tack to the top of the jib halyard, was finally back in Hawaii following at 16+ day voyage.
Said Austin, at her truly Aloha welcome, “Everyone was nervous about missing the Mount Gay party.”
Addiction, a J/35, started the Transpac 09 on June 29 and was one of last boats to finish. Addiction’s estimated time of arrival kept moving up throughout the day. As they speeded up the estimate was reduced little by little. The team crossed the Diamond Head finish line at 8:06:04 pm and streamed into the basin for an Aloha welcome that reverberated off the slopes of the Diamond Head crater. Austin’s stepfather, Richard Blackburn, crewmember and Addiction’s owner, explained, “We caught a squall off of Molokai. The wind kept kicking up and we would take off. We had the boat going 15-16 knots off of Molokai.” That was faster than the boat’s speed even in their two hours of continuous planing last Thursday.
The upshot was that Addiction surprised even the escort boats, media boats and greeters who had every intention of being there to welcome their Hawaiian heroes. “They picked us up before we approached the harbor. But that’s okay, it’s not as if we need the escort to get in,” said Blackburn. Austin, who grew up on a boat and has done crossings as a crew, skipper and professional captain to San Francisco, Long Beach, Ensenada, San Diego and back, can’t even hazard a guess as to how many times she has sailed in and out of Ala Wai unescorted.
People close to Lindsey; her mother, Donna; her stepfather, Richard; Michael Rush and Chase Hartzell, draped leis around their necks during Addiction’s party, which rivaled the one taking place at Hawaii Yacht Club and was organized by their friends and Waikiki Yacht Club. With more flowers around her neck than a Triple Crown winner, Lindsey, energized the party, even destroying the pirate piñata with one swing of the bat.
Hawaiian sailing legends were there. Don Clothier, who sailed his first Transpac in 1951, mingled through the party congratulating the crew. As Donna Austin’s close friends greeted her, they would say, “Aloha, god bless”, “Welcome Home” or they would give her updates on the health of a good friend whom she had sent wishes to in her contributions to Addiction’s web blog throughout the long race.
As Lindsey kept everyone entertained, Bill Myers, who sailed the 2007 Transpac with Lindsey, Donna and an all female crew on his Standfast 40, Cirrus, spoke highly of the young sailor. “Donna and I sail together every week. When she invited me to lunch and made the proposal about Lindsey skippering Cirrus with an all-female crew, I had no hesitation. Lindsey had helped me with a delivery for the Pacific Cup, the year before, so I knew what to expect.” In his words, “Lindsey came away from missing the last cut for the Morning Light movie with a burning desire to do the Transpac.”
Myers followed Addiction’s every move as it inched its way home. Early in the race, Addiction’s computers crashed. While the crew could communicate with other boats and even act as a relay for the Alaska Eagle, the fleet’s communication vessel, they could not upload weather information. Myers, who sails multiple times a week, complimented Austin and her crew’s intuition, “There is not much that I would have done differently given the size of the boat and the weather patterns that they encountered.”
Blackburn, who had never been out of the sight of land before, yet trusted Lindsey and Donna to borrow the boat, take it to dry dock, ship it to California, put it back together and sail a couple of shakedown runs off of Long Beach, said, “there were many times when the trip was excruciatingly slow.” He also remembers not coming off of a plane for two hours straight. There were also a few very wet times, including one in which the boat plunged into the backside of a few waves well aft of the foc's'le hatch.
Austin and her mother, Donna, added local talent and excitement to yet another Transpac and they are happy to be home among friends.
Photos of Lindsey Austin courtesy of Kristin Royalty, a good friend of Donna and Lindsey Austin.