Honolulu, HI (July 12, 2009) - It was a “storm cloud from hell,” that caused Akela to sit for four hours and watch Samba Pa Ti put 30 to 40 miles on them. From then on, Akela’s owner, Bill Turpin stayed away from the clouds, but they were defenseless against the pressure that Samba found up north. Despite it being “a good fast race,” as Turpin put it, they missed out to Samba Pa Ti on the Barn Door trophy for having the fastest elapsed time of all of the boats other than those in the Unlimited Class.
Turpin is clearly an owner who likes to give younger people the opportunity to learn, grow and test himself or herself by sailing in big events such as the Transpac. He got to know Chris Branning, his navigator for Transpac 09, when Branning sailed the Cabo Race on Akela this spring. Turpin invited Branning to navigate for him in Transpac 09. Branning sought special permission from the Coast Guard to delay the start of his flight training in order to sail. Said Turpin, “We called him Commander Branning on this trip. He was on the computer a lot.”
Commander Branning ran through the playbook and complimented some of the other navigators before he touched the dock, “We played two squalls perfectly and on the second day sought we hit a road block and were parked for awhile. Hats off to Nick White on Samba. He’s a great navigator. Of course, I’m rooting for Piet to do well on Pyewacket and it’s awesome that Stan had the record run.”
Fuzz Foster, who owns the North Sails loft on the island, handles the sail inventory for Samba Pa Ti and Akela. His teenage son, Fizz, works side by side with his dad at the loft. Fuzz sailed with Turpin in 2003, and when Turpin asked if he would race with him again, he said that it was something that he really wanted to do with his son. Turpin agreed and Fuzz and Fizz worked hard for the week and a half before Akeala’s start to produce a sail inventory fit for the Transpac.
Turpin put the Fosters on different watches, which overlapped a little so that everyone in the crew could meet everyone else. “He slept a lot at first. You know, he’s a teenager. He was shy at first, but seemed to really enjoy it once he realized that the rest of the crew accepted him.”
While most of the crew had their wives, girlfriends and children greet them on the dock. Fizz got the best treatment of all. His mother, his younger brother, Travis, and about a dozen of his friends were on the dock. With a newfound confidence, Fizz, everybody’s hero, even showed off his facial growth. It will be awhile before Fizz develops a beard during a crossing..
Photo of Akela crew following Transpac 09 by Rob Grant of Latitude 38