What’s this sailing race about? The Transpac isn’t the biggest sailboat race, but it’s the longest of the two oldest. The first Transpac happened in 1906, less than a month after the great SF earthquake, forcing it to start from LA.
In the 1975 movie Jaws, the character Matt Hooper, played by Richard Dreyfuss, claims that he has “crewed two Transpacs” as a means of establishing his seamanship credentials with Quint.
From the Transpac Race site:
The race was inspired by King Kalakaua, the revered Hawaiian leader of the late 19th century who believed that such an event would strengthen the islands’ economic and cultural ties to the mainland. But it didn’t happen until Clarence MacFarlane, a Honolulu racing sailor, invited several contemporaries in San Francisco and Los Angeles to race to the Hawaiian Islands. The race was scheduled to start in the early summer of 1906, but when MacFarlane sailed his 48-foot schooner into San Francisco Bay he realised there would have to be a change of plans. The city lay in ruins following the great earthquake 27 days earlier.
But MacFarlane wasn’t easily discouraged. He simply changed the starting point to Los Angeles, and except for one nostalgic return to San Francisco for the start in 1939, the race has started in Southern California ever since. The starting line is now off the bluffs of Point Fermin in San Pedro at the southern edge of the City of Los Angeles. The finish is off the Diamond Head lighthouse just east of Honolulu, establishing a distance of 2,225 nautical miles.
The 2009 race will be the 45th Transpac. It has been sailed by 1,700 boats from 17 countries, including 124 foreign competitors. The race is run biennially in odd-numbered years, alternating with the Newport-to-Bermuda race that also started in 1906.
Philippe Kahn founded Borland, invented the Camphone, and decodes human motion. He’s also a fellow outdoorsman, splitting time skiing Tahoe and sailing in Santa Cruz. He’ll share his Transpac 2009 sailing race with us live from the Pegasus Open 50. He and Mark Christensen set the race record for a double handed team in 2008 with a time of 7 days, 15 hours, 17 minutes and 50 seconds, besting all boats in overall time for that year.
[Previous Pegasus Sailing posts on Gizmodo, Pegasus]