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After repeated race cancellations and a feared fourth wave of a COVID virus that seemingly just won’t quit, rumors of this year’s Transpac being 86’d have been circulating through west coast sailing scenes about as freely as new variants of the virus itself. And so it was a welcome signt in our e-mail inbox to read a recent press release from the Transpac Yacht Club that insists 2021’s race is ON!
While the challenges in holding a safe, legal and well attended race are undoubtedly numerous, the TPYC has taken unprecedented measures to insure that this year’s race will indeed take place. Consulting with epidemiologist Sara Stone, organizers are creating race-specific protocols that will aim to ensure safety and compliance with both California and Hawaii’s current rules and restrictions.
To be clear, many questions still remain. Will there be parties and social events before or after the race? A virtual awards ceremony? Crew limits? Quarantine before or after the race? Who knows, but for all Transpac race entrants there is a COVID-19 webinar scheduled for Saturday, March 13th at 0900 PST, which should answer at least a few questions.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding this year’s race – which have caused many boats to drop out or not enter at all – Transpac 51 still boasts a healthy 59 entries as of this writing. With none of the canting-keel supermaxi’s or fast multihulls making their way to Hawaii this year, both course records should be safe but the race will likely be no less compelling than in years past.
Manouch Moshayedi’s fixed-keel Rio 100 should be in it to win it for the Barn Door again, but will Roy Pat Disney’s new Volvo 70 Pyewacket beat them boat for boat? Behind the fleet’s two quickest boats that have almost no chance of correcting out, a nice mix of of about half a dozen TP 52/ Pac 52/ IRC 52’s will be mixing it up with about 9 sled variants.
This number could easily grow by one as perpetual sled owner and race participant John Sangmeister has entered with OEX, which is conspicuously listed as ‘TBD’ after his last Santa Cruz 70 was tragically lost at sea in Transpac 50. Half a dozen Santa Cruz 50/ 52s are also entered, as are a nice smattering of J/125’s, Rogers 46’s and other perennial podium contenders.
While many crews have experienced challenges in getting together full-crew practices with social distancing requirements and travel restrictions, the upcoming Newport to Cabo race should offer a nice opportunity for many Transpac crews to get on the water and log some valuable miles. With over 20 entries including many of the usual suspects, we’re looking forward to finally seeing some more big-boat ocean racing return to the west coast! – Ronnie Simpson.