Singlehanded Transpac Finishes Up

No matter where you go in the world it’s “never like this” when they switch the weather on.

So it goes with distance events as well. The 2010 edition of the Singlehanded Transpac has been slow going much of the time, with difficult seas and opposing sets kicked up by distant storms. A thirteen-day crossing is certainly not the best-possible time for a 54-foot trimaran, but that was the reality for Jeff Lebesch’s Hecla, first to finish over the July 4 weekend.

Hecla had no direct competition over the course, officially measured at 2,120 miles from San Francisco to Hanalei Bay, Kauai. The next two finishers were 30-foot monohulls—Adrian Johnson’s Olson 30 and Ronnie Simpson’s borrowed Jutson 30—and the remainders of the 14-boat fleet will be filtering in as the week goes by.

There is incentive to hurry. The awards dinner is Friday, and Hanalei Bay looks like this . . .

This race has nothing in common with the big budgets or big sponsorships of Atlantic singlehanding. This is grass roots, run-what-you-brung sailing, a rite of passage for those with the calling or, for a few, just another bad habit. For example, The General, meaning Ken Roper, US Army (ret.) who is on his 11th Singlehanded Transpac (as ever, announced as his last).

A.J. Goldman is racing a no-frills Cascade 36, Second Verse, in his first crossing, and every day is a discovery. He writes: “Today I changed strategy. I decided to stop running dead downwind and instead run about 25 degrees up. Because I can’t get my VMG above 5 knots no matter what I do. If I run dead downwind, I go 5 knots. If I heat up, I go 6.7 knots over the ground, which makes my VMG—5 knots!

“Fine. The motion of the boat is way better if I’m not sailing DDW. Doing 30-degree rolls all day (not an exaggeration) is just short of torture. And the possibility of an accidental gybe goes down. I’ve already had two of those, one pretty bad. Dave on Saraband broke his boom last night from an accidental gybe.”

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