Pegasus 50 is docked bow to stern with Alfa Romeo. Both are a marvel to look at and both are eyeing Transpac records. The 100-foot long Alfa Romeo is monstrous. Its deck is clean and wide and the sheets and halyards lead to powered winches that are trimmed with the push of a button. Down below, the cabin is spacious and designed for moving sails from side to side during shorter races in Europe.
Pegasus 50, on the other hand, is an Open 50 with a rainbow of halyards and lines streaming from the bow into the cockpit. Winches, a pedestal, sheets and the tails must be a confusing mess during maneuvers. Its domed cabin is barely large enough to fit two men inside. Both boats are fitted with some of the most enviable electronics and nav stations on the water and both have impressively compact galleys. Pegasus even has a combined and compact sink and hot water maker.
Philippe Kahn and Mark Christensen are out to set the Transpac doublehanded record of 10:4:4:49 by Howard Gordon and Jay Crum in 2001 with Etranger. Gordon and Crum also sailed an Open 50. It was a Jutson design with a fixed keel. The red cedar and Kevlar boat did have water ballast and like Pegasus 50, was originally designed for singlehanded sailing. It’s former owner, David Adams of Australia, fared well with her in the 1989-90 Vendee Globe and won Class II in the 1992-93 Vendee Globe with it.
Said Crum, remembering the 1991 race, “It turned out to be a medium air race, and it was light in the beginning. The entire fleet went north of San Nicolas Island.”
Crum, who has been prepping Flash since her arrival two weeks ago following a windy Coastal Cup race, said of the experience of doublehanding an Open 50 to Hawaii, “I loved it and I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
For Kahn, doublehanding the Open 50 to Hawaii is one of the highlights of the year. His team rushed to prepare the boat for the 2007 Transpac and did a considerable amount of work on it prior to Pacific Cup 2008 in which Kahn and Richard Clarke set a new San Francisco to Hawaii doublehanded record of 7 days 15 H 17:50 minutes.
This year, the team has pushed perfection to another level. Not only will Kahn and Mark “Crusty” Christensen have smoothly operating halyards, sheets, dagger boards, rudders, autopilots, a canting keel and redundant instrumentation. They are equipped with communications equipment that will enable them to stay in touch with their very active company, FullPower Technologies. Kahn, a talented mathematician and flutist, will also have more than enough Debussy, Ravel, Faure and Iz to fill days and nights aboard Pegasus 50.
As Kahn runs forecasting models and routing software in advance of his Sunday afternoon start, he is becoming more optimistic about the weather conditions between Los Angeles and Hawaii. Some reports even suggest that racers may see gusts in the 20-30 knot range during their approach to Hawaii next week. Kahn and Christensen have their sights on setting a doublehanded Transpac record and they have added another layer to their quest. Kahn would like to arrive in Hawaii within 72 hours of Alfa Romeo, a boat double its size.
Blogs are being sent from many of the boats entered in Transpac 09. An especially informative and insightful one is http://www.pegasus.com/log.htm.