Honolulu, Hawaii – July 19th, 2013 – Showing a remarkably steady track in their 2225-mile journey from the start in Los Angeles, Bob Hayward’s Seastream 650 Manatea was today the first monohull yacht to cross the finish line here at Diamond Head at 10:10:57 Hawaii time in the 47th bienniel Transpac. Having been in the first wave of yachts who started at Point Fermin on Monday, July 8th, the dark blue cruising yacht completed the course in an elapsed time of 11 days 10 minutes 57 seconds.
Designed by Ed Dubois, built in the UK, and extensively re-fitted in California over the past 10 months, Manatea has complex electrical and hydraulic systems to make her a modern comfortable cruising yacht. At 65-feet long, these systems and the boat's creature comforts bring her weight in at nearly 40 tons, substantially heavier than most Transpac racing yachts.
However, boat captain and native Hawaiian Bob “Longy” Schuster, a 35-year veteran of numerous Transpacs and other ocean races, said Manatea performed well when the breeze was over 12 knots.
“Once we got into some breeze, she would move along nicely. Gybing and sail changes took some coordination, and we did break the heavy A4 spinnaker when it went under the boat in one maneuver. But when the breeze lightened enough to where we could fly the A2 we settled into to good solid pace of 9-10 knots.”
The next boat on the horizon to the east is also large, but the polar opposite in design style as Manatea. Syd Fischer’s carbon fiber Elliott-designed Ragamuffin 100 is 71 miles out at 1400 Hawaii time, and at her current speed of over 16 knots may finish at Diamond Head before sunset. This canting-keeled speedster is looking good to take the Merlin Trophy for fastest monohull to sail the course, but has not had enough favorable weather to beat the current course record set in 2009 by another 100-footer, Neville Crichton’s Reichel/Pugh-designed Alfa Romeo.
After Ragamuffin finishes in the early evening, there are two Japanese entries that will finish sometime early tomorrow morning and who have been fighting each other nearly the entire race for the Division 7 crown. At 132 miles out at 1300 local time, Hiroshi Kitada’s X-41 KIHO is only 2 miles further from the finish as Yuishi Takahashi’s First 40 ten quarter heads towards Molokai while KIHO’s track takes them closer to Ohau. Except for a few days over last weekend, these two have been rarely separated by more than 20 miles throughout the race.
Leading Manatea’s Division 8 in corrected time is still the 1932 S&S-designed wood classic Dorade, owned by Matt Brooks, who reported this morning at 0600 PDT that they had clear moonlit skies with patchy clouds, 9-15 knot winds at 050-070° direction and occasional rain squalls. They too are in a match race with their wood-built rival Westward, the Lapworth 50 owned by Sam and Willie Bell. These two are separated by only 5 miles, and will no doubt have a spectacular daylight ride into the finish at this time tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the remaining fleet of Division 4,5 and 6 boats that started in the light air of Thursday, July 11th are making their way in towards Hawaii from the northeast, not far off the rhumb line course many had held throughout the race.
There is, however, one exception: Jeff Urbina’s Santa Cruz 52 Bodacious IV has not only been to the south of their Division 6 rivals for several days now, but they have remained on port gybe to dig even further south, even crossing the pack of ULDB Sleds in Division 3 to become the southernmost boat in the fleet, even in latitude with South Point, the southernmost tip of Hawaii. Navigator John Hoskins has brought the team into this highly-leveraged position over 200 miles south of their adversaries on the hunt for more wind and the opportunity to close the gap with current class leader Horizon, a Santa Cruz 50 owned by Jack Taylor.
The team blog tells the tale: “It may look a little odd that we have taken such a different course, [but] there IS a plan at work here. As we’ve been saying today, we’re “all in!” Our bet has been made … and now it’s a run to the finish! If the inverted trough stays with us and the winds lean our way, we’ll make up some time. If other unplanned variables come into play … and there are ALWAYS unplanned variables when dealing with the wind and weather, then it could very well go a different way. For now though, we’re all jazzed here and betting heavily on John’s experience and talent.”
Yellowbrick trackers are reporting positions, speeds and headings on 6-hour delays for the rest of the fleet, which then revert to being available live as they approach within 100 miles of the finish. Online spectators can follow the racer’s progress using this system: click here to view. full fleet tracker with 6 hour delay. Click here to view real time 100 Mile To Go tracker.
And click here to see the current standings reports.
Photos by Doug Gifford / ultimatesailing.com