TRANSPAC 2017 Finish Line Report

Hello to our Friends and Families!

Ok, we are on the home-stretch of the 2017 Transpac.  We are aiming straight at Molokai about 10 miles out, with Oahu just in sight.  It feels good.  And boy it’s been a tough couple days.  Really shifty out here, with light breezes that require a lot of concentration to keep the boat moving…  and moving in the right direction.  We knew this was a fierce fleet from the outset. And it is panning out to be a hotly contested event.

Horizon pulled out into a comfortable lead, but second thru fifth or sixth are completely up for grabs.  We dropped to fifth in the position report a couple days ago, but reclaimed third yesterday and are hot on the heels of second place!  Apparently Sin Duda and Prevail were racing within sight of each other most of the day Thursday, and crossed paths less than 100 yards apart after 2000 miles of ocean racing!  It’s more like a bouy race as the boats approach the finish.  As I write this, Sin Duda, Previal, and Triumph are all in a tight pack just to the north of us (of course that was four hours ago since tracking information is delayed four hours for competitors), but it’s too close to call right now.  This morning’s roll call has us in third still, but my calculations put us really really close to second.  With the shifty conditions, our emotions oscillate with the rise and fall of our fortunes, but what has remained steady is the hard work everyone is putting in!

We are definitely in the tropics now.  We had lines of squalls pass by in the early morning hours the past couple of days, giving  some wild wind shifts and dramatic starts to the days. Now it’s sunny, hot, and beautiful out. Breeze is finally up a bit, around 18 knots, and the seas are very flat, but a bit confused. The nights have been stunning.  A starry sky that defies description, with a late night moonrise that looked like a freight train’s spotlight coming thru the clouds.  And while the days are getting hot, the nights are perfect shorts-and-t-shirts sailing conditions.

Life onboard is great…  it’s a really fun bunch of people and spirits are high.  Everyone has showered…  and a couple have even shaved.  It was our last night at sea, so dinner was Cornish game hens with a port wine reduction, a potato galette, and roasted asparagus. This was paired with a 2017 Charles Shaw Chardonay.  Desert was a Neapolitan gellato.  Just kidding.  We had freeze dried.

So now, with the finish line more or less straight up ahead and Hula Girl in line for a happy-hour finish off Diamond Head, I want to thank all the folks who have helped pull this effort together.  Coaches Patrick and Paul have been absolute rockstars.  Thanks to Rick Shema for his world class weather routing info.  Thanks to my parents for being shore support in Long Beach (and everywhere else).  And thanks to my wonderful wife for all the support and letting me disappear every summer for weeks on end!

And finally, of course a big thank you to the whole team for making this a special experience.  When we start these things, we are essentially a bunch of strangers, albeit strangers with similar mindsets and one great aspiration: to race to Hawaii.  For some aboard, it is the first time.  For others, they are doing it again (take it from me, it can be addicting).  But as the trip progresses, we see that the strangers become collaborators, shipmates, and friends. For us coaches, it is truly a gratifying experience to both bear witness to individuals realizing the dream of the Transpac and to see a disparate group work together towards a common goal, and in so doing become something quite different: a true racing team. So to the crew this year, awesome job cranking out a fantastic showing in one of the toughest fleets in one of the world’s premier yacht races.  Seriously impressive.  And beyond the excellent performance, I had an absolutely fantastic time sailing with all of you.

Ok, enough of this.  I’m going to go sit in the cockpit and watch the green hills of Molokai slip by, then shoot across the channel, and start looking for the lovely, familiar Diamond Head profile that marks the finish line.  Then I’m thinking a Mai Tai might taste pretty good. And if it does, I might just have to have a second one…

Cheers all, and Aloha!

Wayne Zittel and the Hulagains

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