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New Era, Dates, and Rating Limit For Transpac 2005

September 16, 2003

Skippers and crews in the 2005 Transpac Race will sail under a full moon in a big fleet led by some of the fastest monohulls in the world. In its first meeting since the highly successful 2003 Transpac race to Honolulu, the Board of Directors of the Transpacific Yacht Club on Sept 3 approved moving the traditional July 4 Transpac start date ten days later to capture the light of the full moon.

“The full moon was so popular with skippers and crews this year that we felt tradition should give way here,” said 2005 Transpac Commodore Jerry Montgomery. The move also increases the chances of better winds. Montgomery allowed that historical data shows stronger trade winds circulating the Pacific High later in July. “A later start increases the chance of more wind. This will be especially helpful for many of the 30 to 50 foot boats, which start up to a week earlier than the fastest boats.”

After almost doubling the entries from the previous two races, Transpac is anticipating up to 75 boats in 2005, said current TPYC Commodore Brad Avery. “Based on the fun people we’re having in Honolulu, Transpac is in a new era similar to the old days, with lots of families showing up to celebrate in Hawaii. It’s a real race, not a rally, dominated by families and friends, racing good boats that make sense to own.” This year’s race included three J 160’s, a J 145, two Beneteaus, a Swan 53, Jenneau 52, a Tayana 52 and ten Cal 40’s. “All of these boats were well sailed by amateurs, with good sail inventories and weather programs.” We’re looking to grow these kinds of entries, which are primarily crewed by first-time Transpac sailors.” Avery concluded.

The TPYC Board also approved a new rating limit open to racing monohulls around 90 feet overall, up to the new Bermuda race limit of 30 meters. The new rating limit is intended to include boats with speed potential up to that of a canting keel maxZ86 on the Transpac course. Previously, Transpac had invited a minimum of three MaxZ86 yachts to compete in 2005 for the famous Barn Door trophy. Currently one MaxZ86 sloop, Zephyrus, is sailing. Two nearly identical MaxZ86’s, both with canting keels, are under construction for Hasso Platner and Roy Disney. All three boats are expected to enter Transpac 2005. Along with exisiting boats and those under construction, the new limit also allows for new builds.

In Transpac 2003, the first to finish boat was the 77-foot Pegasus. The move to much bigger boats almost guarantees that the current Transpac record of 7 days, 11 hours, and 41 minutes will be shattered. “The development of big racing boats around the world has moved forward very quickly” said TPYC director Bill Lee. “There are half a dozen newer boats around 90 feet now sailing, and just as many being built.” Lee also added: “along with much bigger boats, canting keels and water ballast are also dramatically speeding up first to finish contenders. “Our objective is to create a level playing field for these unique boats and have a great first to finish race to Hawaii in 2005.” Lee stated that Transpac is committed to the tradition of inviting new and existing boats to race.

The complexities of fairly rating conventional boats along with water ballasted boats and canting keel boats has led Transpac to a partnership with US Sailing to improve the rule to accommodate such differences. A TPYC committee will work with US Sailing’s offshore office to produce a rule by next spring, allowing time for new builds under the improved rule.

“Transpac wants to do whatever it can to help foster fair racing on the Transpac course, not just for the maxi boats, but also the rest of the fleet,” Avery said. Yacht design is moving fast and sailors are seeing new technology on the race course. I think most sailors want to compete against these boats, as long as the boats are equalized.

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