Transpac 2001

Photo Gallery: 16 photos.

Philippe Kahn and Pegasus Racing sailing Pegasus 77 win Transpac 2001. Team includes key sailors from Alinghi, OneWorld, and Team New Zealand. Photos by Sharon Green.

Team Pegasus receives the coveted Barn Door Trophy

Team Pegasus receives the coveted Barn Door Trophy

Class: Division 1
Make and Type: Reichel-Pugh 75
Sail number: 50008
Rig: Sloop
LOA (ft.): 77
Draft (ft): 12.5
Beam (ft): 15
Hull color: White / Blue
Yacht Club: Waikiki Yacht Club
Hailing port: Honolulu, HI, Waikiki Yacht Club
Designer: Reichel Pugh
Builder: McConaghy
Where built: Sydney, Australia
Year launched: 2001
Racing Class or Division: Division I

Skipper: Philippe Kahn
Navigator: Mark Rudiger
Watch Captain 1: Morgan Larson
Watch Captain 2: Zan Drejes
Crew: Kevin Miller, Curtis Blewett, Adam Beashel, Samuel “Shark” Kahn, Michael Mottl, John Hayes, Jeff Madrigali, Don McCracken.v

Epilogue

Team Pegasus won long hard battle on the great Pacific Ocean. There are a few remarks that I thought pertinent as I am sitting here in Honolulu looking at beautiful Diamond Head.

Pegasus 77 crosses the finish line

Pegasus 77 crosses the finish line

Race tactics and strategy: On Pegasus 77, we were determined to match race Pyewacket for 2250 nautical Miles. Our understanding is that Pyewacket didn’t really want to follow that path, but I think that we did a good job at forcing Pyewacket into the match-racing mode. We wanted to take as much of the luck factor out of the equation. Here is the logic behind our race tactics and strategies:

1. Learn to sail Pegasus 77 from Pyewacket: Pegasus 77 was a brand new boat and we never had a chance to test her against another boat. Not even in a local race. Transpac was our first race ever and we only had 15 days of sea trials to learn to sail Pegasus 77 without a tuning partner. Therefore being next to a comparable boat (Pyewacket) that we knew was fast helped us make sure at any time that we were sailing Pegasus 77 close to its potential. The more we sailed next to Pyewacket, the better we got at sailing our boat. After 2250 nm we really learned a lot. Pyewacket was our tuning partner <smile>

2. Never let Pyewacket build leverage: We decided what whenever we “tried something different” that we’d evaluate at the next position report, at most 12 hours if needed. If it didn’t seem productive, we’d fight to get right back in touch with Pyewacket. It turns out that except for the last 24 hours we always cut our losses and “nothing different worked”. Pyewacket was obviously well navigated and did not leave us windows of opportunities.

3. Work as hard as needed to always position Pegasus 77 between Pyewacket and Honolulu: That included working hard at winning the start, and whenever behind at expanding as much energy as needed “to be one boat length ahead”.

With tight covering tactics it’s clear that one gives up the potential of much bigger gains with the trade-off of a greater chance to win the race. We felt that we only needed to win Transpac by one boat length and that therefore a lead of more than one hour was a good stretch given our tactical and strategic approach to the race.

Future Transpac racing: We obviously had essentially one-design offshore sailing across the Pacific in the Volvo Cup style. Three evenly matched boats are in existence. It would make a lot of sense to “formalize this class” and encourage more owners to develop new boats to the class.

Father and Son: Taking Shark, my 11 year old son, with me was one of the best thing that I did for both of us. Together we have now built unique memories throughout an amazingly intense 8 days of around the clock intense competition and communion with the Ocean and the wind. Priceless.

A night without sleep, sailing hard for the finish line at sunrise

All night long Pegasus has been flying on a tight spinnaker reach headed by every squall. With each squall we got a right wind shift that put us on our ear to make course towards Makapu Lighthouse.

As we ride through this fast and windy night I remember hiking up to Makapu Lighthouse, high on the cliffs behind Koko Head and looking in the direction of the sunrise, thinking about this Transpac finish.

Many times while at our home in Honolulu we’d visit both Makapu Lighthouse and Diamond Head Lighthouse (up on Diamond Head road) and visualize the Transpac finish. Now we are almost in sight. When we pass the 100 mile distance to the finish, we are supposed to check in by radio with the race committee.

We’ve been monitoring the race committee’s frequencies with the angst that Pyewacket or Chance would be checking in before us. We’re pushing very hard, during this fast night ride. Fly Pegasus, fly!

A night without sleep

A night without sleep, sailing hard for the finish line at sunrise

Light and Hot

For the last 5 hours its been light and hot. Real light. And that is nerve racking because we’re all thinking: “If the Pyewacket guys have 5 knots more wind than we do, we could see our lead evaporate”. There is not much that we can do but to rest the team, sail fast and wait for the next position report.

Catching some Z's...Morgan and Madro

Catching some Z’s…Morgan and Madro

Lots of snoozing on-board, we just don’t need as many sailors on deck and it’s going to be a long night to the finish. Passed this evening, none of us is likely to get any sleep before the finish. But for now, we’re waiting for the evening position report to see how much ground Pyewacket made.

Shark snoozing

Shark snoozing

The morning after the squalls

Date 07/08/01
Lat 24 21 North
Lon 152 03 West
Course over ground: 220 Degrees
Speed over ground: 12.5 knots
Wind speed: 18 knots
Wind direction: 079 degrees

Our favorite acrobatic clown!

Our favorite acrobatic clown!

Team Pegasus battled squalls all night, making endless spinnaker, jib-top, stay sail changes. After seven days of hard racing this was a heroic effort. When we lost Pyewacket in the second squall of the night, we thought that
they had gone around us, and we were now clearly ahead. This is a great team because we all went to work even harder.

All this hard work paid off as Pegasus is now both first in class and first overall with an 8 mile lead over Pyewacket. In the last 24 hours we covered 335 miles, for an average of 14 knots.

Zan Da Man!

Zan Da Man!

Now the winds are lighter and the team is pushing hard to make sure that none of that lead gets squandered. A lot can happen in the next 340 nautical miles to Honolulu!

Pegasus 75, With Names

Pegasus 75, With Names

 

Haleakala in sight!

Date 07/09/01
Lat 21 58 North
Lon 156 27 West
Course over ground: 264 Degrees
Speed over ground: 14 knots
Wind speed: 19 knots
Wind direction: 096 degrees

Towering at 10,000 ft the Haleakala volcano situated on Maui is the first majestic landmark that we sight. You can see and accumulation of clouds with the little tip of the volcano sticking out. Binoculars confirm the details.

How we stretched, our rookie helmsman, Shark!

How we stretched, our rookie helmsman, Shark!

An hour after we checked in for our 100 Miles, nobody else has yet. We figure that this may not mean much as its “easy to forget to check-in”. So we’re pushing the boat as hard as we can.

Tireless start trimmer Mike

Tireless start trimmer Mike

There are two finishing strategies: Either head straight to the finish line or aim for Molokai and play the shifts down the Kaiwi channel as the wind bends along the coast. We are pretty familiar with that phase of the race after some epic Kenwood Cup distance racing in the summer of 2000. We like that approach a lot, however the wind has clocked East in the last 24 hours and those shifts may just not be worth the detour.

Doc never stops, always there

Doc never stops, always there

We’ll make that decision in the next few hours. Of course the danger here would be to not play those shifts and our competitors to make gains by playing them.

Curtis on top of the mast!

Curtis on top of the mast!

25 knots, rocking, masterful Curtis

25 knots, rocking, masterful Curtis

We stretched!

Our last position report.. We hear Pyewacket’s position and the whole boat cheered: We doubled our lead through the night! There is going to be a lot of sleeping once we get to “The best little yacht club in the world”! (Or
maybe not just sleeping…) But until then we’re all going to push our flying white horse like there is no tomorrow. Still much can happen in the big waves and the big wind and what are without much doubt the best sailing
conditions in the world. Big wind, big waves, warm water, beautiful Island!

Pegasus, the flying white horse is starting to ‘accelerate for the barn!”

Betting on ETAs

500 Miles out as customary on-board Pegasus we started a betting pool for ETAs. We started it, but Shark seems to have taken ownership of all the process. He’s on the ship’s computers looking at routing software trying to figure out the “best educated guess”.

Shark the bookie, managing the ETA time sheets!

Shark the bookie, managing the ETA time sheets!

 

Each bet is $10 and we’re all allowed to place three bets, winner takes it all. I have found that it can be better not to win this pool as once at our home Waikiki Yacht Club (one of the two best yacht clubs in the world!), the winner is going to have to take care of the bar tabs for everyone, far exceeding the size of the betting pool!

But of course Shark says: “I can’t go to the bar, so I get to keep it all”. I think that he’s been thinking of getting a laser and that may get him partly there. In any case, the flying white horse is smelling the barn. Luckily we have maintained our position at the last reporting.

Fly Pegasus, fly through the night!

Night is coming down, and it looks like we’re going to have more squalls.
Pyewacket is much more experienced than we are and we will need to sail hard
and relentlessly all night to attempt to keep our lead.

Fly Pegasus, fly, talk to the wind… Fly Pegasus, fly!!!!!

Squalls everywhere!

The night is full of squalls. Now anything can happen in this race. We lost touch with Pyewacket in the heavy rain. We were becalmed for a while. They may have passed us.

Curtis clowning around in 25 knots!

Curtis clowning around in 25 knots!

Now we are on the front end of another squall with winds gusting to 30 knots shifted 35 degrees to the right. That is why I can now send reports: Our heading is 260 degrees, we’re on port tack and the target satellite is bearing 225 degrees.

Shark thinks that these squalls are really cool. I think that we may be creating a monster here… He says: “They are just like giant Pacmans trying to eat us up like the dots in the game…”Hmmmm……

Trade Wind magic!

Trade Wind magic!

Drag race to Honolulu

Date 07/07/01
Lat 26 23 North
Lon 148 20West
Course over ground: 264 Degrees
Speed over ground: 18 knots
Wind speed: 27 knots
Wind direction: 062 degrees

Drag racing in the trades

Drag racing in the trades

The position report this morning showed Pegasus ahead of Chance and Pyewacket. Chance is farther north and behind us probably betting on a very large and sudden right hand wind shift. Pegasus is in-between Pyewacket and Honolulu two miles ahead.

Our goal now is to work on stretching our lead. This is easier said than done as the Pyewacket group is very experienced and has been sailing their boat much longer than we have been sailing the new Pegasus.

On board, life has truly taken the rhythm of the Ocean, the sun, the wind, the waves and the stars. We now find ourselves asking whether its Saturday or Sunday. With trade winds between 22 and 29 around the clock, and seas from 8 to 18 feet, sailing the boat fast is demanding and there are constantly 5 to 6 of us on watch. For jibes, it’s all hands on deck. From a personal hygiene perspective, it’s now like we never had a working toilet, we all comment that it’s “yet another optimization”. We are all now used to taking salt water showers to clean ourselves.

Shark is now an integral part of the racing team. He takes bearings on Pyewacket, grinds the spinnaker, helps trim the main and with all the galley chores. He loves to listen to the sailing stories as told by the boys, and is becoming quite a story teller himself.

As the night falls, we know that this will be a defining night in the way that we manage squalls. Pyewacket is now about 4 miles behind and Chance more than 15. This is a small lead that could evaporate if we get caught on the wrong side of a squall.

John Hayes, Mike Mottl and Philippe in the blazing sun

John Hayes, Mike Mottl and Philippe in the blazing sun