In years past, the glorified stars of the biennial Transpac Race from Los Angeles to Honolulu were the navigators. On their shoulders lay the critical job of interpreting the weather, poring over the charts and finding the fastest — if not necessarily the shortest — route to the islands.
Like the practitioners of a black art, the navigators’ work was shrouded in mystery. Their authority went unquestioned; their decisions were final. Once their die were cast and the fleet sailed over the horizon on their differing paths, it might be many days before a competitor’s boat was sighted on the race course.
Ultimately, the first boat would sail past the finish line off Diamond Head, perhaps days ahead of the competition. The winning navigator would be lauded for his genius in determining what the others had not.
But not anymore.
Last Monday afternoon, in what many old Transpac hands are calling the most competitive running ever, the California-based technology entrepreneur Philippe Kahn and his all-star crew aboard Kahn’s 75-foot Pegasus won the Barn Door trophy for first boat to finish. It capped an epic race more like a tight, tactical, round-the-cans one-design affair than an open-ocean adventure. Pegasus’ time was 8 days 2 hours 34 minutes 3 seconds.
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