Honolulu, HI (July 12, 2009) - Every step of the way from Point Fermin to Diamon Head, John Kilroy and the crew of Samba Pa Ti did a samba for Transpac 09 race watchers. The eight-man crew danced with the stars above their asymmetrical spinnaker and kept an eye on the weather throughout the race. Their strategy from the beginning, according to Kilroy and his tactician, Stu Bannatyne, was “to make as few maneuvers as possible throughout the race.” The big gain for the team is when they continued north to a layline for Hawaii and split with Akela. Samba found pressure and speed up north and worked the boat hard to hunt down Akela. Ultimately, Samba arrived in Hawaii nearly four hours ahead of Akela.
The Samba Pa Ti team tried to chase down Tim Fuller and Erik Shampain, who were doublehanding the One-Design 35, Relentless, to the finish line. Relentless finished at 18:16:50 and Samba Pa Ti crossed the line at 18:17:11 HST on Sunday. This is the closest finish in Transpac history.
Cudos to both boats, especially to Kilroy, who won coveted the Barn Door Trophy for having the fastest elapsed time of all of the boats that are compliant with RRS 51 and 52. Although Alfa Romeo and Magnitude 80 had shorter elapsed times, they are Unlimited Class boats and utilize such mechanical advantages as canting keels, water ballast or electric-powered winches and were competing for the Merlin Trophy, not the Barn Door Trophy.
Samba Pa Ti is one of four Transpac 52’s in Division I. While it has the same sail area, it rates differently than Flash. Said Kilroy, he changed the weight package on Samba, including sailing with eight, rather than 10 as was the case on Flash. The TP52 that was first in fleet for a number of days. Samba inched it way up in the fleet today and there is a very real possibility that Samba will win the King Kalakaua Trophy and claim first overall, first in her division and the Barn Door, therefore giving her a clean sweep. This is not the first time that Kilroy was on a Transpac boat that was first overall. Kilroy was aboard Kialoa in 1997 when his father, Jim Kilroy, won the trophy.
Kilroy and his Samba Pa Ti team were first in Division II in the 2007 Transpac. Kilroy had nothing but praise for his crew. “It’s the ultimate team sport. Stu Bannatyne is a calm and inspiring leader.” Bannatyne, Nick White, the navigator and one of the inventors of the navigational software program, Expedition, and Kilroy attribute their win to lack of maneuvers that they did, only gybing twice during the entire 2,225-nautical mile race to Hawaii.
Kilroy and his teams have collected over 20 records, national titles and world championships in offshore racing inshore racing in boats such as the Melges 24’s, Melges 32’s and TP 52’s.
With the glow of the setting sun in his face and a rainbow behind him, Kilroy said, “It is wonderful to be in Hawaii. It was a great race and a wonderful victory for the team.”
Final update will come once Flash crosses the finish line in the world's most enduring and greatest ocean race.
Photos of John Kilroy and the Samba Pa Ti team crossing the Diamond Head finish line courtesy of Phil Uhl.