Los Angeles, CA – (July 8, 2009) Alfa Romeo, Akela and Criminal Mischief are knocking at the door of Transpac Division wins and course records for traditionally ballasted monohulls and RRS 51 and 52 waiver boats. There is still a lot more Pacific Ocean to cross before reaching Hawaii, and as Jim Pugh of the San Diego firm, Reichel/Pugh Yacht Design cautions, “If you finish first, first you must finish.”
Pugh has had years of experience watching his designs win races all over the world. Reichel Pugh designs have an illustrious Transpac past dating all the way back to Blade Runner’s first in class finish In 1987. About that time, Reichel Pugh found in Michael Rouse, an owner who wanted to work with them to build a boat that would compete with the Bill Lee-designed sleds. During the 1989 Transpac, the sleds Silver Bullet, Blondie, Taxi Dancer and Mongoose crossed the finish line within a 37-minute span. Taxi Dancer, the Reichel Pugh design, finished third among 19 sleds and corrected out to become the overall Transpac Race winner.
Morning Glory, Exile, the modified Kathmandu, Pyewacket and Grand Illusion added to Reichel Pugh’s reputation during the 1990’s. In 1997, Pyewacket, the turbo-charged ULDB, smashed a 20-year Transpac record of 7:15:24:40. Later in the decade, Roy E. Disney’s maxi sled set another Transpac elapsed time record of 7:11:41:27.
Philippe Kahn’s Pegasus 76, another Reichel Pugh design, dominated the 2001 and 2003 Transpacs by claiming the Barn Door in 2001 and winning on elapsed time in 2003. Disney’s Pyewacket took second to Pegasus both times.
In 2005, Hasso Plattner’s canting ballast maxZ86, Morning Glory, a Reichel Pugh 86, was in the limelight for the Centennial Transpac, logging 393 miles during its first day at sea and going on to obliterate the Transpac course record. In light to moderate conditions, Morning Glory averaged 13.9 knots and chopped nearly 16 hours off of the record held by Pyewacket. During the same Transpac race, Roger and Isobel Sturgeon’s Reichel Pugh-designed TP 52, Rosebud, claimed the King Kalakaua Trophy with the best corrected time in the fleet.
Pugh credits his clients for much of the success. He says, “We’re lucky we have good owners. We work hard to treat them well and to retain them.”
One of the services the design company offers its boat owners is optimizing their boats for specific racecourses. It also stays abreast of the Transpac rules and ratings. “Committing to sail a Transpac is like starting a business,” says Pugh. “The owners commit a considerable amount of time and resources to the project. In effect they are hiring staff, purchasing and modifying equipment, outsourcing and working closely with consultants.”
All involved in preparing Neville Crichton’s Alfa Romeo for the Transpac admit that time flew between February and the July start date and they wish that they could have done more to maximize the boat to the new Transpac rating system for the Unlimited Class. For the sleighride to Hawaii, they complemented its new Southern Spar rig with a new and larger North Sails inventory by modifying the tankage for the boati. Likewise, Bill Turpin, Akela's owner, having been first in class and first in fleet in 2003 with Alta Vita, and Chip Megeath, Criminal Mischief's owner, who was first in class and third in fleet with Kokopelli 2 in 2007, respectively, know that doing well in the world’s most enduring and greatest yacht race takes quite a bit of boat and team preparation.