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First wave of 2023 Transpac race from California to Hawaiʻi begins Tuesday with 16 sailboats

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On June 27, 2023, the first wave of 16 sailboats began the 2023 Transpac race from California to Oʻahu. (Photo Credit: Bronny Daniels/Ultimatesailing.com)

The 2023 Transpac competition from California to Oʻahu begins on Tuesday with the first wave of 16 sailboats crossing the starting line in the vicinity of Point Fermin in San Pedro.

After leaving the west end of Catalina to port, they will sail 2,200 miles west towards the finish line at Diamond Head.

This year, there are three waves with a total of 58 entries from Australia, Canada, Italy and the United States competing in the 52nd edition of this biennial ocean racing classic, first sailed in 1906.

Some are racing Transpac for the first time, while others are veterans who keep coming back for this iconic race.

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Ian Edwards’ Dehler 46 Wings has come from Sydney, Australia to participate. This is their first Transpac race, but they are no strangers to ocean racing. Edwards said they have raced about 35,000 miles on this boat, but the unique aspect of Transpac’s course and conditions is intriguing.

“We normally race with 10 or even 12 crew, but we will race with only 8 on this race,” he said. “We have a lot of experience in all positions on the boat and we’ve been doing some practicing with our short-handed maneuvers like sail changes and gybes so the off-watch can get some sleep and be rested for their turn.”

Indeed, this is a fundamental skill for all Transpac teams: finding the balance between having enough versatile and skilled crew available to perform versus the extra weight and clutter of having more on board.

There are other notable differences for Edwards, such as Transpac’s limited allowance for stacking sails on deck to increase stability and optimize performance. This is not allowed in other races. They also added a Code 65 reaching headsail to their inventory to help fill the gap between their upwind headsails and their spinnakers.

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As for weather and routing, Edwards said they have poured through all the available resources from experts like Stan Honey and Peter Isler on route planning, and they feel confident that their first group will get off the coast and into the Pacific quickly without speed bumps.

“We don’t see a need to do a deep south route for us so initially we should be staying fairly close to the rhumb line,” he said. “After that we’ll see how things develop.”

Ed Sanford, who is racing his J111 Creative in the same division, agrees: “We think it will be some hard upwind work in the first 24 hours and some big breeze and waves out there, but feel good about getting off the coast fast.”

Sanford also competed in this race 2013, 2015 and 2017 in his smaller J105. He said he’s upbeat about this race, and with this boat – that he’s owned for three years – he’s been fastidious at preparation and planning, going through all the systems on board and making upgrades.

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This includes adding a bobstay to the bowsprit to handle the loads from a reaching headsail they plan to fly along with a staysail for high-speed reaching and devising gaskets for it so when the bow dives in there will be no saltwater firehose below decks.

For more stability and rest for the off-watch crew, they also installed a pipe berth and lee cloths in the aft berth to get three to rest on the high side.

“By taking the time to go through all the setup, equipment and systems,” he said, “we have a much better understanding on how to troubleshoot if needed.”

These and other all-amateur teams on the race may qualify for the Nash Family Corinthian Trophy which is awarded to the team with the best corrected time performance among teams with all Category 1 sailors recognized by World Sailing.

For more information on the 2023 Transpac, visit www.transpacyc.com.

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