By Lynn Fitzpatrick
What are you going to do when the Volvo Ocean Race is Over?
Race fans and sailors alike can turn their attention to the Transpac, the World’s most enduring and greatest ocean race. Sailing the 2,225 nautical mile distance may be unthinkable to many. To Volvo Ocean racers, Dave Endean, Ryan Godfrey, Phil Jameson, Tony Mutter and Craig Satterthwaite who will have sailed over 37,000 miles in the 2008-09 Volvo Ocean Race, it’s a busman’s holiday that starts and finishes in warmth and sunshine. It is also the opportunity and sail what some have called “the fastest yacht in the world,” Alfa Romeo II, in a distance race.
The Volvo Open 70’s encountered every type of condition imaginable during their around the world race. Ericsson 4 even shattered the monohull barrier by sailing over 600 nautical miles in 24 hours. Alfa Romeo II Team Manager, Murray Spence, who admits that Alfa Romeo II has hit speeds of 35 knots during a delivery, doesn’t foresee matching Ericsson 4’s record. To do that, he says, “You need the right wind and wave conditions and you need to be able to point the boat in the direction that is most advantageous. It’s unlikely to happen with Hawaii as our target.”
Owner, Neville Crichton; Spence; the cadre of Volvo Ocean Race crew; uber-Finn sailor, Ben Ainslie; Transpac’s winningest navigator, Stan Honey; and the rest of the star-studded crew are out to win line honors, break the Transpac monohull record of 6: 16:04:11 and to establish a benchmark for future Unlimited Class entries competing for the MERLIN trophy.
Alfa Romeo II has been at Long Beach’s Rainbow Harbor for a couple of weeks prepping for Transpac 09, waiting for the other 50 yachts to arrive and looking forward to the finish of the Volvo Ocean Race so that nearly one-third of its crew can hop a flight and be on hand for all of the festivities associated with the start of the 45th Transpacific Yacht Race.
The Division breaks and start dates have been set and are published on the Transpac website, www.TranspacRace.com.
The first start is Monday June 29th for Divisions 6 and 7, which includes the smallest boat in the fleet, the Hobie 33, Bloodhound, and the only Tall Ship in the race, America’s Privateer Lynx.
Divisions 3, 4 and 5 are scheduled to set off for Hawaii on Thursday, July 2nd. These divisions include entries from Japan, Leglus and Bengal 7; entries from Mexico, Wasabi and Ruahatu; and the 2007 overall winner, Reinrag2.
Divisions 1 and 2 roar out of Long Beach on Sunday, July 5th. Division 2 sleds include: six Santa Cruz 70’s; Alchemy, an Andrews 68; and the oldest yacht in the fleet, Ragtime, back for its 15th Transpac. The Unlimited Class boats (RRS 51 and 52 waiver yachts, which are exempt from the Racing Rules of Sailing limitations on moveable ballast and/or stored power); the TP 52’s; and Pendragon 6, Akela, and Rapid Transit are sure to make Sunday’s 1300 start a spectacle even more interesting than July 4th’s fireworks extravaganza.