Transpac – The Other Race to Hawaii

While the zephyrs of the Northwest summer settle in, the Pacific Northwest racers doing the Transpac Race from Los Angeles to Hawaii are counting on the traditional blow from behind for a fast sleigh ride to Honolulu. And we’re lucky here on to get on-the-water reports, which we’ll try to share here as they happen!

Raisin’ Cane

Our two contributors will be Bruce Hedrick onboard the Santa Cruz 52 Triumph and Jamie Stewart aboard the J/125 Raisin’ Cane. Cane’ will be in Division 3 and Triumph Division 4. Both classes will start July 5, tomorrow!! Raisin’ Cane made the race to Cuba which we featured a few months ago. Once again, David Brink will be onboard. Of course we expect great things from them. The J/125 seems to love this race, judging by how Hamachi did two years ago. 

Bruce Hedrick has done about 65,783 races to Hawaii as navigator. However, rumors that he is to be immersed in a sensitivity deprivation tank (to see if he can really navigate) for the duration of the race are entirely unfounded.


Triumph is owned and skippered by Steve Sellinger, and Bruce and brother Gregg will do everything they can to bring the Santa Cruz 52 home on the podium. 

So hopefully we’ll be hearing from those boats along the way, with good things to report on their positions. Both are tough classes. There are no fewer than 4 Santa Cruz 52s (and 6 Santa Cruz 50s) in Division 4, which may ratchet up the intensity in the way only one-design racing does. 

Kinetic V

But there’s a lot more to this year’s race. David Sutcliffe and his experienced team from Vancouver will be putting Kinetic V up against a pair of Pac 52s (the new kinda sorta one-design class from a TP52 mold) among others.



Merlin then (1977)
Merlin now.

There probably isn’t a sailor alive who isn’t pulling for Bill Lee and Merlin to find a little magic. And with Seattle’s Carl Buchan aboard, it’s easy to make her more than a sentimental favorite. After all, it was 68′ Merlin that really brought the reality of light displacement into the sailing limelight back in the 1970s. Merlin is gradually being transformed back into her old self after an attempt to make her into a canting keel monster didn’t work out too well. 

Speaking of canting keel monsters, guess who’s going to be at the party – Comanche! That’s right, Ken Read, Stan Honey and some seriously good sailors and big grinders are going to be out for some kind of record. While their overall finish position will have a lot to do with how the weather pans out, it will be fascinating to watch how close they can stay to the Mod 70 and ORMA 60 trimarans. 

Stewart foresees a beat to Catalina and a light northerly to start with. Hedrick is emphasizing that there’s a weakening high pressure area and a new high pressure system forming off northern California. So, basically, the navigators are going to have to remain glued to their screens until these high pressure systems sort themselves out.

Here in the Pacific Northwest get to root for Raisin’ Cane, Triumph, Kinetic V and even Merlin. Keep checking back for updates in the next few days and if you’ve got some insights or know of any other PNW connections, please email me and I’ll put them out there.

Kurt grew up racing and cruising in the Midwest, and has raced Lasers since the late 1970s. He has been Assistant Editor at Sailing Magazine and a short stint as Editor of Northwest Yachting. Through Meadow Point Publishing he handles various marketing duties for smaller local companies. He currently is partners on a C&C 36 which he cruises throughout the Northwest. He's married to the amazing Abby and is father to Ian and Gabe.

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