Elapsed times were short of record pace, but still a great achievement in a difficult race
Honolulu, HI – The Barn Door Trophy is made from a large ornately-carved piece of Hawaiian Koa wood, and is an iconic symbol of excellence for the Transpac: many of the most famous racing yachts in the world of offshore sailing have their names inscribed on the brass plaques around its perimeter.
In 2009 when the existing course record was smashed by over a day by Neville Crichton’s canting-keeled Alfa Romeo, Transpac YC recognized that this class of designs was unique and needed its own trophy, so the Merlin Trophy was born to honor the boat that did so much to encourage high-speed offshore-capable design.
Today the names inscribed on the 2015 plaques was determined at the Transpac’s Diamond Head finish line: Roy Pat Disney’s and Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI had the lowest elapsed time on the course to win the Merlin Trophy, and the first monohull without powered assistance was Manouch Moshayedi’s Rio 100, who will win the Barn Door Trophy.
Wild Oats XI is a 100-foot custom design famous for its numerous victories in the Sydney-Hobart race in its native Australia, and was competing this year for its first Transpac. The goal was a course record, but the weather was uncooperative this year. Nonetheless, the team felt this was a significant achievement.
“What a machine; what a ride; what a crew,” shouted an elated Disney as they docked inside Honolulu’s harbour to the cheering and clapping of an adoring crowd of family and supporters. Disney has 21 Transpacs to his credit. Disney and skipper Mark Richards assembled an international pro team of 16 sailors for this campaign.
A proud and extremely happy Bob Oatley was on the dock to welcome the team. As much as the 87-year-old wanted to be part of the race, his health prevented him from doing so. Being on the dock to salute the success was the next best thing.
A few hours later Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin 100 crossed the finish, runner-up to Oats. This was the second Transpac for ‘Rags’, which is actually in modified form from when she last raced here in 2013: she is narrower and lighter, but not enough to match Oats in the downwind VMG sailing common to this race.
Explaining Rag’s decision to go far north in the hunt for more wind, helmsman Matt Allen said “We had a choice: go down the middle with Oats and follow her and lose, or head north and try to find more pressure to get around her on the top of the course.” Ragamuffin sailed with a pro-am mostly Australian team of 20 crew.
Several hours later Manouch Moshayedi's Blakewell-White-designed, Kiwi-built Rio 100 sailed across the finish line, sailed by an international pro-am crew of 19 as the first monohull equipped with only manual-powered systems to sail the 2225-mile course in the shortest elapsed time. Their finish time – at 3:30 PM Hawaii time – was several hours from breaking the current Barn Door record of 6D 19H 44M 28S set by Hap Fauth’s 74-foot Belle Mente back in 2011, but by all accounts this year’s difficult race weather was not favorable to many boats in the fleet, so Moshayedi was still pleased.
“We set out to win this trophy, and did, and it’s not too often that you can achieve these goals in ocean racing,” he said. “The boat and the team were fantastic, and its great to be a part of Transpac history. We look forward to coming back next time and breaking that record.”
Tactician Gavin Brady said he’s been on many successful offshore race teams, but this one was both well-coordinated and congenial, a feat not easy with 19 people, one of the largest crews in the race this year.
“It sounds like a lot of people, but every one works, and works hard. This is a physical boat and all the effort that it takes trimming sails requires 8 guys at a time on the handles, so we had to have 19. This makes life on board a challenge, especially after a lot of days and the weather getting warmer each day. But everyone got a long really well, this was a great group of guys.”
There was one disturbing aspect of this race that had Brady incensed: trash. “There was so much floating
debris out there, its hard to describe or comprehend,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like it. Maybe because the High was pushed north so we sailed this year into the waters where it is normally, but this is a great tragedy to have so much garbage out there.”
Brady said the team did many evasive maneuvers and once even a back-down to stop the boat and shed the keel of a fishing net.
“We’ve got to as racing sailors let everyone know about this,” he said, “because otherwise no one would believe it.”
Other finishers in the last 24 hours included Paul Stemler’s J/44 Patriot, who in Division 7 is a runner-up in corrected time to Harry Zanville’s Santa Cruz 37 Celerity, who is still leading overall in ORR corrected time scoring; Tracey Obert’s BBY 59-foot ketch Marjorie, the first to finish in Division 8; and Drew Belk’s Beneteau First 40 Precepts II. On the eastern horizon within range of the live 100-mile tracker and due to finish some time tonight or tomorrow morning are the following boats: Dave and Peter Askew’s R/P 74 Wizard, who as ex-Belle Mente still holds the Barn Door record and is currently leading Division 2 in corrected time; Ross Pearlman’s Jeanneau 52 Between the Sheets in Division 8; Alex Farrell’s 1D35 Alpha Puppy in Division 7; Joel Young’s Beneteau 523 Transformer in Division 8; Sam and Willie Bell’s Lapworth 50 Westward; and Pat Benz’s Gunboat 66 Extreme H2O, the first multihull to finish the race this year.
For those that wish to follow finishers on the Yellowbrick tracker system for when they arrive within 100 miles of the finish, there is a real-time window set up at this link: http://yb.tl/transpac2015-Finish. For other entries still on the course the tracker has a 6-hour delay and is found at http://yb.tl/transpac2015.
Daily race analyses videos made by Seahorse Magazine USA editor Dobbs Davis are viewable to the YouTube link from the Transpac YC home page.
There will also be blogs sent from the boats posted on the TPYC home page, and lots of photos and stories available on the Transpac Facebook page. Photos from the starts, finishes and other official events from Sharon Green and her team at Ultimate Sailing are also regularly uploaded and displayed in the Media section of the Transpac website.