Shark Leads Philippe In The Kahn Family/Pegasus Racing Key West Battle

20 January 2004 – Day two at Terra Nova Trading Key West provided the Melges 24 fleet with two more beautiful races. The battle between father and son Philippe and Shark Kahn cranked up a notch today and with four races completed the fourteen year old Shark now leads his father by 8 points.

After yesterday’s showers the sun was back in all it’s glory today and with the breeze blowing offshore from 20 degrees at between 10 and 14 knots the Melges fleet had two more great races. Conditions were nicely loaded upwind and marginal planing downwind and with 58 boats on the line it was no place for the faint hearted. “It was fantastic sailing, but in this fleet finding and keeping a lane is so hard and if you get it wrong you really know it!” commented US Melges 24 Class President Jeff Jones after racing.

Race three started on time and at the first attempt although with a large number of individual recalls. Philippe Kahn and Sebastian Col, helming P&P Racing for Philippe Ligot of France, both got excellent starts along with Bruce Ayres and at the top mark they filled the top three slots in that order followed by John Hyatt and Hubert Guy. Sean Scarborough rounded sixth but had in fact been called OCS and failed to return, at the time of writing Scarborough is lodging a protest against his disqualification. Jeff Ecklund was seventh just ahead of Norway’s Kristian Nergaard, Deitrich Scheder from Germany and Britain’s Stuart Simpson.

At the leeward mark Col held his lead whilst Jeff Ecklund had caught right up on Philippe Kahn with the two boats rounding overlapped. Hyatt droped to fourth in front of Nergaard and Guy with Ayres down to seventh as Shark Kahn pulled up from the teens to eighth.

On the final lap Col and Philippe Kahn held their positions but the battle for fourth was a good one. At the second weather mark Hyatt had pulled up into third from Nergaard and Jeff Ecklund with Scheder now in fourth from Ayres and Shark Kahn. The fun continued on the run into the finish with Nergaard and Shark Kann both sailing smart and fast to bring them up to third and fourth with Hyatt fifth, Jeff Ecklund sixth Ayres seventh and Scheder eighth. After a mediocre first beat Sheldon Ecklund got his head down and steadily worked his way back up to ninth with John Pollard tenth.

Race four also got away first time out with a small number of individual recalls. This time it was Shark Kahn who led into the first mark from Jeff Ecklund, Nergaard, Paul Brotherton, helming for Scotland’s Ian Cleaver, Britain’s Joe Woods, Mike Dow and Col. Shark tacked a fraction too early on his final approach to the mark and only just managed to squeeze round allowing Jeff Ecklund and the fleet to grab back a few valuable seconds.

Down the first run the breeze began to build a little with Shark and his team having to work hard to hold off Jeff Ecklund with the two boats rounding virtually together. Nergaard slotted into third with Col pulling up to fourth only a second or two ahead of Brotherton. Woods had dropped to sixth rounding neck and neck with Flavio Favini, helming for Franco Rossini of Switzerland. Shark, Brotherton and Joe took off from the left whilst the others went right.

On the second beat Shark opened up some distance and was able to hold his lead right into the finish. The race committee elected to include a final third beat and with an outstanding dog fight going on for second place the spectator boats, of which there are many, were delighted. At the second leeward mark Jeff Ecklund had managed to hang onto second whilst Col just slipped through in front of Nergaard. Brotherton rounded fifth from Ayres, Favini and Woods.

Jeff Ecklund and Col virtually match raced their way round the final two legs. Coming into the last leeward mark Col crossed Jeff Ecklund’s transom by millimeters and they had the spectators on the edge of their seats all the way up the final beat. On the final approach Col finally got the better of the deal and took second by a boat length. Nergaard hung onto his fourth whilst Ayres and Favini slugged it out for fifth with Favini getting it on the final beat. Brotherton kept his seventh slot holding off a last minute charge from Scarborough who pulled up from the teens with Woods in ninth.

In the overall standings Shark Kahn is on fourteen points, eight ahead of his father Philippe. Flavio Favini with Franco Rossini’s Swiss Blu Moon team are equal third on 33 points with Norway’s Kristian Nergaard, whilst Jeff Ecklund and Bruce Ayres are equal fifth with 38 points. Overnight second placed John Pollard from England scored 10, 23 taking him down to seventh on 52 points, ten clear of Silvio Santoni, helming for Italy’s Franco Maria Rao. Despite today’s 1, 2 scoreline the French P&P team of Philippe Ligot with Sebastian Col helming are currently counting an OCS so are lying in joint tenth place on 63 points with Britain’s Martin Wedge. TNTKW will include a discard for the first time this year, which kicks in at 7 races, so this regatta is still wide open.

Pegasus Racing and Philippe Kahn Leads On Day One In Key West

19 January 2004 – The fifty-eight strong Melges 24 fleet opened their regatta at Terra Nova Trading Key West with two excellent races today. The only disappointment of the day was the weather, which failed to delivery the traditional Key West sunshine until mid afternoon and instead brought overcast skies and light showers.

Race one got underway on time and at the first attempt in 10 knots from 220 degrees. The left hand end of the line appealed to the big names and they were on the money. At the weather mark it was reigning World Champion Shark Kahn who popped out just ahead of the pack in front of Sebastian Col, helming Frenchman Philippe Ligot’s P&P Racing. Philippe Kahn rounded in third with Sean Scarborough fourth, Ireland’s Maurice “Prof” O’Connell, helming for Enda O’Coineen fifth and Nick Maxwell in sixth. Rounding in seventh and eighth respectively were brothers Jeff and Sheldon Ecklund. The brotherly rivalry between these two crews extends to the tacticians as well with Harry Melges calling the shots for Jeff and Hans Melges for Sheldon.

The first run saw lots of place changing with Col pulling into the lead by the leeward mark. Behind him Britain’s John Pollard, who had rounded the first mark in twelfth, sailed a blinder and pulled right up into second with Shark Kahn third, Philippe Kahn fourth and Martin Wedge fifth. In the Ecklund/Melges brotherly battle it was Sheldon who won out on this leg pulling up to sixth whilst Jeff had a lousy run ending up down in sixteenth. O’Connell dropped to seventh with Scarborough just behind him.

On the second lap Col took advantage of the clear air and opened up a great lead. The wind had dropped slightly and up the second beat it went right to 240. Behind Col, Pollard and the Kahns put on a great display battling for second place and at the line it was Philippe Kahn second, Pollard third and Shark Kahn fourth. Wedge managed to hang onto fifth from O’Connell, Sheldon Ecklund and Scarborough.

A heavy shower went through during the lunch break and race two then started in 14 knots from 240 degrees. Although the fleet got away on the first attempt there were a large number of boats OCS, seven of whom failed to recross the line including Col and O’Connell. The centre right seemed to be the sweet spot and at the windward mark Philippe Kahn headed the fleet from Flavio Favini, helming for Switzerland’s Franco Rossini, Mike Dow, Norway’s Jorgen Hege, Pollard and Kristian Nergaard, also from Norway. Yet again seventh and eighth round the mark were the Ecklund brothers with Jeff just ahead of Sheldon.

Favini managed to slip past Philippe Kahn on the first run while Pollard pulled up into third, Nergaard moved into fourth and dow dropped into fifth. Heje had a disappointing run rounding ninth whilst the Ecklunds pulled up a place with Jeff sixth and Sheldon seventh.

Up the second beat Favini pulled out around 20 seconds from Philippe Kahn while Nergaard moved up to third with Pollard fourth, Dow fifth and Sheldon Ecklund sixth. Shark Kahn sailed a very impressive beat and moved up to seventh from the mid teens just ahead of Britain’s Richard Thompson.

On the final run Favini and Philippe Kahn held first and second. Pollard managed to get the better of Nergaard and Shark Kahn kept the pressure on to take fifth with Bruce Ayres moving up from tenth to sixth. Sheldon and Hans won this leg of the Ecklund/Melges brother battle finishing seventh whilst Jeff and Harry had to settle for a twelfth.

In the overall standings Philippe Kahn leads the regatta by two points from John Pollard with Shark Kahn third. Sheldon Ecklund’s consistency was enough to put him in fourth just ahead of Flavio Favini and Franco Rossini’s Blu Moon team, whose win in the second race compensated for their sixteenth in the first. Sixth and seventh slots are filled by Brit’s Martin Wedge and Paul Brotherton, helming for Ian Cleaver, with Kristian Nergaard ninth and Italy’s Silvio Santoni, helming for Franco Maria Rao, in tenth.

All Change On Day Four In San Francisco

16 October 2003 – If you’d told us six days ago that a fourteen year old kid would have Harry Melges on the ropes going into the final day of the Audi Melges 24 World Championship in San Francisco we’d have politely laughed you out of court. Today we have egg on our faces and Shark Kahn and his Pegasus 1 crew of Richard Clarke, Mark Christensen, Brian Hutchenson and Brian Lee have Harry Melges, Jeff Ecklund, Hans Melges and Steve Inman well and truly worried.

Today’s two races brought thrills and spills as Melges and Kahn both found themselves down in the cheap seats for a change. After yesterday’s shifts the wind was rock steady at 225 and racing got underway at lunch time in 6 knots, which increased to around 16 knots by the end of race eight.

The first start was fraught and Harry Melges ended up wallowing in the third row as the fleet, and his main rival, sped off up the beat. After a first mark rounding at 29th Melges spent the race playing catch up to eventually finish 11th. Kahn meanwhile was once again showing that he is not to be trifled with and took second place on the first lap behind Paul Brotherton, helming for Ian Cleaver. By the second windward mark Kahn had the lead and eventually won by nearly two minutes. Brotherton duelled with Kerry Poe for second as Brian Porter, Flavio Favini, helming for Franco Rossini, Egidio Babbi and Sebastian Col made heavy work out of fourth, eventually crossing the finish line in that order within seconds.

In race eight it was Kahn’s turn to find himself out in the cold. Having put in a respectable beat he looked set for a top ten first rounding as he approached on port. Unfortunately the starboard layline was full to bursting and couldn’t find a slot until the low 20s. If his older and more experienced rivals hoped this would leave the youngster dazed and confused they were to be sadly disappointed and Kahn simply dug in and worked his tail off, finally finishing sixteeth. Up ahead Melges was fairing only a little better, his first mark rounding of tenth seemed solid enough and with his legendary speed the spectators fully expected him to storm his way to the front. By the second windward mark he was up to seventh but he lost again on the second run and found himself back in tenth, eventually just pipping Sebastian Col on the finish line for eight. At the front of the fleet reigning Melges 24 European Champion Luca Santella, helming Giovani Maspero’s Joe Fly Team, took the tape for only the second time this regatta winning the race by a over a minute. Brian Porter eventually took second after some fun and games with Dave Ullman. Don Jesberg was fourth while Sheldon Ecklund and local hero Seadon Wijsen struggled over fifth with Ecklund finally getting it. Rob Greenhalgh, helming for Paul Lovejoy, came in seventh just ahead of Melges.

Going into the final day Shark Kahn now leads on 17 points with Harry Melges just one point behind him. Brian Porter (42 points) and Luca Santella (47 points) are set for an equally tight battle for third place. Since Cedric Pouligny and Morgan Reeser swopped helm/tactician roles the P&P Team have seen an significant improvement in their fortunes and they are now lying fifth overall (65 points) ahead of Egidio Babbi (71 points), Rob Greenhalgh (72 points), Dave Ullman (74 points), Paul Brotherton (78 points) and Jamie Lea (84 points).

The leaders were not the only ones to have an eventful day. The most serious incident was a leeward mark collision in race eight between Keith Grzelak and Denise Surtees which left Grzelak with a large hole in the port quarter and Surtees with a broken pole. Fortunately Grzelak’s crew were able to stuff the hole with a sail bag and keep the boat fully heeled to starboard for the tow home. Martin Wedge was the other high profile casualty when he lost his rig in race eight and found himself forming an interesting obstruction on the second down wind leg. Fortunately the St Francis Yacht Club safety team swung into immediate action in both cases escorting everyone safely to the dock.

Two final races are schedule for tomorrow, although the fact that racing is already postponed until noon and no races can be started after two pm will make for a tight programme.

Full Results and Scores

Two More Bullets For Harry Melges On Day Three

15 October 2003 – Harry Melges showed blistering speed on day three at the Audi Melges 24 World Championships in San Francisco to take two further bullets. Although very happy with his result Melges by no means had it all his own way and today’s racing was fast, furious and incredibly close. Melges’ nearest rival for the Championship, fourteen year old Shark Kahn, kept up an incredibly consistent performance posting a third and second leaving him trailing by just five points after six of the ten scheduled races.

Conditions on the Berkley Circle were the most testing so far with a shifting wind which built from 12 to 20 knots as the day wore on. The start of race five was initially delayed as a front went through and the wind flipped back and forward through 20+ degrees. After a general recall the fleet got going with some individual recalls at the second try. The right hand end of the line was favoured with the main players opting for right of centre up the first beat.
Britain’s Jamie Lea, helming Richard Thompson’s Black Seal Team, troubled the front of the fleet for the first time this week rounding just ahead of Melges, Argyle Campbell, Don Jesberg, Stuart Rix, helming Team Gill for Simon & Quentin Struass, Shark Kahn and Dave Ullman. The front of the fleet was incredibly closely packed and with the flood tide pushing them away from the mark a number of boats found themselves having to take a second go at it or doing turns for infringements as they barged their way in.
As the leaders took off down the run Melges was the first to gybe away whilst Lea held on starboard into the corner. At the leeward mark Melges was ahead by a whisker and took the left mark whilst Lea went for the right. Jesberg slotted in third ahead of Phillipe Ligot’s P&P Racing, being helmed today by Le Defi America’s Cup mainsail trimmer Sebastian Col, who had swopped places with Morgan Reeser. Shark Kahn was fifth and Rob Greenhalgh sixth. Col and Greenhalgh had sailed impressive runs to move up from eighth and ninth respectively.
The wind had gone left forcing the committee to relay the weather mark for the second beat. Harry Melges had great speed and opened up his lead to 40 seconds by the end of the leg. Shark and Lea were neck and neck with Shark just getting the advantage as they rounded. Jesberg led the rest of the pack off down the run followed by Col, Ullman, Tom Freytag and Rix. Although Melges was out on his own Shark, Jesberg, Lea and Ligot grouped up and were changing places constantly down the run. At the leward mark Lea just got in front of Jesberg from Shark and Col with all four boats rounding overlapped.
On the final beat the leading pack went hard right and the spectators were on the edges of their seats to see who would wind up second. At the line it was Col who followed Melges in head of Shark, Lea and Jesberg. Sheldon Ecklund had moved up to sixth with Brian Porter seventh.
The unstable breeze meant a long wait for race six by which time the tide had turned and the chop was building. The wind had settled at 18 to 20 knots from 205 degrees and the fleet got away first time with a few recalls. Again the smart money seemed to like the right and this time it was Col who led at the first mark from Melges. Behind them Shark Kahn was just able to sail over Argyle Campbell to take third with Lea fifth and Greenhalgh sixth. As they took off down the run Melges and Shark gybed early and split from the fleet but at the leeward mark the top five places remained the same whilst Philippe Kahn pulled into sixth infront of Olivier Ponthieu and Greenhalgh.
On the second beat Melges just sailed right past Col who could do nothing but watch him go by. Shark held onto his third place as Greenhalgh made a couple of smart moves to take fourth from Lea, Campbell, Freytag and Philippe Kahn. On the second run Shark was the only boat to gybe off and gained as a result. Col had a minor broach half was down loosing several seconds. At the leeward mark it was Melges by 25 seconds from Shark. Behind them Col, Greenhalgh, Lea and Campbell rounded together and set up for a thrilling dog fight to the finish. Melges crossed the line 20 seconds ahead of Shark with Col eventually pipping Greenhalgh for third with Lea fifth.
With six races completed the discard now comes into play and whilst the top four positions haven’t changed there is now a significant points gap between Harry Melges (6 points), Shark Kahn (11 points) and the rest of the fleet. Third placed Luca Santella, helming Giovani Maspero’s Joe Fly Team, scored a somewhat lacklustre 13, 9 today leaving him on 32 points while Brian Porter’s 7, 10 gives him 36 points and fourth overall. Rob Greenhalgh moves up from seventh to fifth (39 points), P&P went from sixteenth to sixth (49 points), Dave Ullman dropped a place to seventh (51 points) and Jamie Lea came up from eighteen to equal eighth with Philippe Kahn (53 points). Stuart Rix came from fifteenth to tenth (58 points).
With four more races to go it’s still wide open between Harry Melges and Shark Kahn and third to fifth are only separated by seven points so we can expect plenty more fun out of this championship.

Full Results and Scores

Harry Melges Still Leading By Three Points After Day Two

14 October 2003 – After two more tough races at the Audi Melges 24 World Championships in San Francisco Harry Melges, helming for Jeff Ecklund, is still hanging onto his overall lead although fourteen year old Shark Kahn is giving him plenty to worry about and is now only 3 points behind him. “It was a good day but we missed a few opportunities and I don’t think we were quite as fast. I think some of the others found some speed today so it was tough.” commented Harry Melges after racing.

Racing was delayed until midday to allow the breeze to build and the fleet started on the last of the flood tide with some individual recalls in 8-10 knots from 210 degrees. The right hand end of the line was definitely favourite and the wind clocked about 15 degrees up the first beat. Shark Kahn lead round the first mark from Bruce Ayres, Egidio Babbi and Kenneth Kaan. Behind them a number of boats misjudged the strength of tide and understood the mark. Benoit Charon just managed to shoot the mark for fifth but Kerry Poe, along with a number of others, was forced to bail out and was left battling for a way back in through the starboard tack wall.

By the first leeward mark Shark had opened up a 30 second lead from the pack whilst Kaan had pulled up to second from Babbi. Paul Brotherton sailed a very smart run to come from the teens up to fourth whilst Ayres dropped to fifth in front of Harry Melges who’d also pulled up from the teens.
Shark pulled out his lead to a minute and ten seconds on the second beat whilst Babbi moved up to second with Melges third, Kaan fourth, Brotherton fifth and Ayres sixth. Shark covered to the finish whilst behind him Melges got past Babbi as Kahn and Ayres held fourth and fifth respectively with Brotherton sixth.

By race four the wind was up to 14-16 knots and the tide had turned bringing up the chop. The fleet got underway at the second attempt and again they like the right hand end of the line. Shark Kahn yet again got the measure of the first beat and this time it was Luca Santella, helming Giovani Maspero’s Joe Fly Team, who was hot on his heels at the weather mark with Ayres third, Melges fourth, Hubert Guy fifth, Doug Weitz sixth and Sheldon Ecklunk seventh. Brian Porter rounded eighth but having forced his way in was forced to do a turn on the spreader leg and dropped back to thirteenth.
Santella and Shark Kahn had a humdinger of a battle down the first run with Santella just in the lead by the bottom mark. Both of them opted for the right gate with Melges following in at the head of the pack. First to opt for the left was Dave Ullman who’d come from tenth to fourth down the run. Weitz had pulled up to fifth with Porter sixth, Rob Greenhalgh seventh and Brotherton ninth.

Up the second beat Santella opened up 30 seconds on Shark while Porter moved up to third. Melges had a lousy beat and dropped back to tenth leaving Weitz in fourth, Greenhalgh fifth, Ullman sixth and Ayres seventh.
The final lap saw no change in the top three but Melges showed that he might be down but he sure wasn’t out and managed to pull back up to fourth with Ullman fifth and Weitz sixth. Greenhalgh had to be content with seventh from Ayres.

Overall Harry Melges, Shark Kahn and Luca Santella remain in the top three slots, while Brian Porter has moved up to fourth. After racing Porter’s crew member Vince Brun, who already holds two Melges 24 World titles as helmsman, commented on his new role as trimmer “I’m really enjoying the sailing but it’s very hard work to be trimming instead of helming. I think I’m getting to old!”

A disapointing 17, 13 score line was still enough to leave Philippe Kahn, father of the fourteen year old Shark, in fourth place with Ullman sixth, Greenhalgh seventh, Babbi eighth and Ayres ninth. Local boy Seadon Wijsen rounds out the top ten.

With his 1, 2 score line Shark Kahn, the teenage surprise from Hawaii, was definitely today’s most consistent performer. After racing Shark acknowledged that his crew of Richard Clark (Illbruck Volvo Race, three times Canadian Olympic Finn representative), Mark Christensen (multiple Volvo race veteran), Brian Hutchenson (Melges 24 sailing guru) and Brian Lee (Shark’s 20 year old cousin) are playing a vital role in his success at this event along with a huge amount of practise. “In the past 8 months we’ve done about 60 days sailing. We’ve done a lot of smaller regattas, we did San Diego Regatta, a lot of regattas up here, two on the Berkeley Circle and four on the City front and we’ve done a lot of training in Hawaii with Dave Ullman and my Dad.” said Shark, who also paid tribute to his Dad’s support of his campaign. “I’m just really lucky to be able to do this because of my Dad who offered me the opportunity and I just want to keep doing it.”

Full Results and Scores

Pegasus Racing and Pegasus 77 Sails To Transpacific Win

HONOLULU — A full moon lighted the way past the Diamond Head finish line for Philippe Kahn’s Pegasus 77 and a second consecutive “Barn Door’ victory in the 42nd Transpacific Yacht Race from Los Angeles early Monday. Kahn’s arch-rival later described the path laid by the lunar reflection on the water as “like sailing down the moon river,’ but Roy E. Disney and his crew aboard Pyewacket were nearly five hours behind in a match of powerful sailing machines.

The Barn Door is a 3 1/2-by-4- foot slab of carved Hawaiian koa wood that goes to the boat with the fastest elapsed time for the 2,225 nautical miles. Four Aloha boats that started five days earlier finished ahead of Pegasus 77 by as much as 15 hours, but their elapsed times were days slower. Finishing at 3:15 a.m. local time, Pegasus 77’s time was 7 days, 16 hours, 31 minutes, 17 seconds, the fourth-fastest ever for the race but nearly five hours off Pyewacket’s record of 7:11:41:27 in a windy 1999 race. Pyewacket’s time this year was 7:21:18:01.

” Records aren’t something you can control,’ Kahn said. “Either the weather was going to cooperate or not. We did break a record for the daily run, and what was interesting about that is we did it without a lot of wind.’ A day earlier, with no more than 18 knots of breeze, Pegasus 77 completed a 24-hour run of 356 miles, breaking the record of 353 set by Magnitude in 1999.

When the wind increased late in the race, Pegasus 77, then in a commanding position against Pyewacket, seemed to have a shot at the record. At the time, Pegasus 77 still had an outside chance of achieving a rare Transpac sweep: fastest-elapsed time and first in class and fleet on overall corrected handicap time.

But, ironically, a 40-year-old Cal 40 whose crew included Pyewacket’s usual navigator, Stan Honey, finished in time late the same morning to correct out on Pegasus 77 by about half an hour. However, Bill Turpin’s Transpac 52, Alta Vita of San Francisco, has the inside track on the honor with about a two- hour edge and needs to finish before 7:12 a.m. local time Tuesday to clinch it.

Illusion was first overall on handicap time through most of the race but slipped back as the larger, faster boats accelerated in stronger breeze. But, flying a full-blown spinnaker in 30 knots of following wind, they flew down through the finish line, surfing at 16 knots to beat nine other Cal 40s in a revival of the class that dominated the race in the late 60s.

The outcome of the Pegasus 77-Pyewacket contest was determined early on, not by boat speed but by strategic differences of opinion.

” We led them past (Santa) Catalina (Island) by a mile, but then we went right and they went left, and they were right and we were wrong,’ Disney said.

The Pyewacket crew was stunned by the second day’s morning roll call and position report that showed Pegasus 77 100 miles south of them.

” We were surprised how low (south) they went the second day,’ said Peter Isler, who replaced Stan Honey as Pyewacket’s navigator.

Then, when the shift they were expecting failed to produce a lively breeze, they had to eat their mistake and give up a lot of miles to find better wind south. That’s when Pegasus 77 came slightly north to drop into a controlling position directly in front.

Mark Rudiger, Pegasus 77’s navigator, said, “It was (wind strength) pressure versus angle, and I’ve learned the hard way over the years that the first half of this race you have to go for the pressure and the second half you can start working on angle. So I just tell the guys, ‘Send the boat the fastest way it can go.’ Speed rules.’

Rich Roberts
Long Beach Press Telegram

2003 Transpacific Yacht Race

Latest News as Pegasus Finishes

A full moon lighted the way past the Diamond Head finish line for Philippe Kahn’s Pegasus 77 and a second consecutive Barn Door victory in the 2003 Transpacific Yacht Race from Los Angeles early yesterday. Kahn’s arch rival later described the path laid by the lunar reflection on the water as “like sailing down the moon river,” but Roy E. DISNEY and his crew aboard Pyewacket were nearly five hours behind in a match of equally powerful sailing machines.

The Barn Door is a 3 ½-by-4-foot slab of carved Hawaiian koa wood that goes to the boat with the fastest elapsed time for the 2,225 nautical miles. Four Aloha boats that started five days earlier finished ahead of Pegasus 77 by as much as 15 hours, but their ETs were days slower.

Finishing at 3:15 a.m. local time, Pegasus 77’s time was 7 days 16 hours 31 minutes 17 seconds, the fourth fastest ever for the race but nearly five hours over Pyewacket’s record of 7:11:41:27 in a windier 1999 race. Pyewacket’s time was 7:21:18:01, the eighth fastest ever.

“Records aren’t something you can control,” Kahn said. “Either the weather was going to cooperate or not. We did break a record for the daily run, and what was interesting about that is we did it without a lot of wind.”

A day earlier, with no more than 18 knots of breeze, Pegasus 77 completed a 24-hour run of 356 miles, breaking the record of 353 set by Magnitude in 1999.

Disney, whose boat has been highly modified since ’99, said, “Both of these boats are much faster than what we set the record with.”

When the wind increased late in the race, Pegasus 77, then in a commanding position against Pyewacket, seemed to have a shot at the record. “We thought about that a lot,” Disney said, laughing. “Quite a lot.”

At the time, Pegasus 77 still had an outside chance of achieving a rare Transpac sweep: fastest elapsed time and first in class and fleet on overall corrected handicap time.

But, ironically, a 40-year-old Cal 40 whose crew included Pyewacket’s usual navigator, Stan HONEY, finished in time late the same morning to correct out on Pegasus 77 by about half an hour. However, Bill TURPIN’S Transpac 52, Alta Vita of San Francisco, has the inside track on the honour with about a two-hour edge and needs to finish before 7:12 a.m. local time Tuesday to clinch it. If the trade winds hold, that is well within its reach.

Illusion, with Honey’s wife Sally and Transpac veterans Skip ALLAN and Jon ANDRON joining Stan, was first overall on handicap time through most of the race but slipped back as the larger, faster boats accelerated in stronger breeze.

The problem was, as Stan Honey said, “If [the wind] picks up from 10 to 20 knots, we go from 7 to 8.”

But, flying a full-blown spinnaker in 30 knots of following wind, they flew down through the finish line, surfing at 16 knots to beat nine other Cal 40s in a revival of the class that dominated the race in the late 60s.

Later, several of the disappointed Pyewacket team, including Disney, greeted their teammate at Ala Wai Yacht Harbour, where Doug Rastello told Honey, “We needed that.”

The outcome of the Pegasus 77-Pyewacket contest was determined early on, not by boat speed but by strategic differences of opinion.

“We led them past [Santa] Catalina [Island] by a mile, but then we went right and they went left, and they were right and we were wrong,” Disney said.

The Pyewacket crew was stunned by the second day’s morning roll call and position report that showed Pegasus 77 100 miles south of them.

“We were surprised how low they went the second day,” said Peter ISLER, who replaced Stan Honey as Pyewacket’s navigator for this race.

Then, when the shift they were expecting failed to produce a lively breeze, they had to eat their mistake and give up a lot of miles to find better wind south. That’s when Pegasus 77 came slightly north to drop into a controlling position directly in front.

Mark RUDIGER, Pegasus 77’s navigator, said, “It was pressure versus angle, and I’ve learned the hard way over the years that the first half of this race you have to go for the pressure and the second half you can start working on angle. So I just tell the guys, ‘Send the boat the fastest way it can go.’ Speed rules.

“Originally our plan was to stay with them, but we decided to sail our own race. Our goal was always to hold at least 30 miles of southing on them to make sure we had a little more pressure but try to put them back on bearing so they had no angle they could get at us with. Crusty did a really good job of masterminding that [plan].”

Crusty is Mark CHRISTENSEN, who was on the winning team in the last two Volvo Ocean Races but had never sailed a Transpac.

“The first couple of days I was having trouble getting a grasp on how far off course we were going,” he said. “Rudi’s [saying], ‘Get south, get south.’ After that we just had to try to think what they were thinking and do the jibes so we’d always set ourselves up between them and the mark.

“We were pretty confident with all our forecasts. It was kind of scary. We just got every shift. Even today, Rudi would say, ‘Well, the wind’s supposed to go to [a compass direction of] 060 . . . be patient, be patient.’ So we waited and waited and finally jibed on 050 and an hour later it was 060 and we came screaming in. The whole race was like that.”

On the last night, sailing in 26 knots of wind in the Molokai Channel, the wind shifted after Pegasus 77 jibed—a quirk that turned into a half-hour shortcut toward the finish.

“Again,” Christensen said, “Rudi could do no wrong.” The young veteran Morgan Larson said, in a way, the race was routine. “I like it when things go wrong,” he said. “It was too easy.”

Rich Roberts
sailing.org

Pegasus 77 Finishes On The Fly

Boat Deftly Navigates 2,225-mile Crossing From L.A. To Honolulu To Win 42nd Transpacific Yacht Race By Nearly Five Hours

HONOLULU Coming in swiftly and silently, almost ghostlike as it streaked victoriously past Diamond Head under a moonlit sky long before dawn Monday, Pegasus 77 very much resembled the mythical flying horse for which it is named. In fact, its captain and crew seemed to make a mockery of the cat-and-mouse game its rival crew aboard the Disney-powered Pyewacket had in mind at the July 6 outset of the 42nd Transpacific Yacht Race — when it raised two start flags, one revealing a fairly famous cat and the other a very famous mouse.

There was no such game.

Instead, the boat with the blue horse emblazoned fashionably on its shiny white hull embarked on a much more southerly route and spent all but the first day well out of sight of its only Division I rival, where it found much breezier conditions and built a lead that would prove insurmountable. Ultimately, Pegasus 77 swooped back north along the same basic line as Pyewacket and “covered” a lead that at one point stretched to 77 miles. When all was said and done, Pegasus had negotiated the 2,225-mile crossing from Los Angeles to Honolulu in 7 days 16 hours 31 minutes 17 seconds — nearly five hours ahead of Pyewacket.

It was the fourth-fastest time in Transpac’s long and storied history and the fastest elapsed time in this year’s race, earning software engineer Philippe Kahn and his crew of professional sailors aboard the sleek Reichel-Pugh 77 their second consecutive Barn Door trophy — the ultimate Transpac prize.

The vessel has an outside chance at claiming overall victory based on corrected handicap time — with a top rating, it has to give various amounts of time to entries in lower classes. But late Monday afternoon, the 52-foot Division II boat Alta Vita was well on pace to finish before 7:12 a.m. local time today, which it needs to claim that honor.

For a time, it appeared as though Pegasus 77 would even steal the elapsed-time record Pyewacket set in 1999, when Disney Vice Chairman Roy. E. Disney breezed across the Pacific Ocean in 7:11:41:27.

Kahn entertained hopes of adding that to his impressive sailing resume late in the race after consecutive days of almost flying across the ocean — including a record run of 356 miles in a 24-hour period leading to the Sunday morning roll call.

But those hopes diminished with the winds before they rose again to enable the early-morning sprint to the finish line, which Pegasus 77 crossed at 2:31:17 a.m. local time Monday, its bulging white sails showing the way. ” We were there to race and we had a great race,” said Kahn, 51, whose 13-year-old-son, Samuel, was on board for his second Transpac. “If the record was to be had that would have been great, but otherwise we’re happy — everybody had a great time.”

Things didn’t go nearly as smoothly for the boat named after the movie, ” Bell, Book and Candle.”

Early problems with the refrigerator left those on Pyewacket with a sour taste that became more bitter as time progressed.

” We had some spoiled milk and some really, really bad turkey, but otherwise it wasn’t so bad,” said Disney, 73, whose official time for his 14th Transpac was 7:21:18:01, the eighth-fastest in race history, which is testament to how fast today’s super sleds such as his Reichel-Pugh 75 have become.

” I saved a big jar of mayonnaise and a few cabbages and we used that later in the race to make coleslaw, which was good because it was something fresh.”

Topping off things, navigator Peter Isler — filling in for the legendary Stan Honey, who left to sail one of the Cal 40s in the Transpac — suffered burns after spilling hot coffee grounds on his right leg.

(Honey flirted briefly with the prospect of beating Pegasus 77 on corrected handicap but failed to do so after coming in a little too late Monday morning.)

Some might have viewed those incidents as bad omens, as Isler and team Pyewacket never could get a good wind in their sails in time for it to amount to anything — despite weather forecasts that led them to take the course they took.

” Sailboat racing is a tough sport,” said Isler, 48, when asked what went wrong. “To a certain extent you want to make a plan and keep sticking to it, but … you have to also be flexible and change your plan part way through.” Disney, ever personable, offered a far simpler explanation.

” They went left and we went right. They were right and we were wrong,” he said. “I don’t know how better to put it.”

* Kahn broke from tradition this year by going far beyond the obligations of the mandatory morning roll call, during which skippers reveal their positions. He kept his position known — as well as a running log — throughout each day on his Web site, www.pegasus.com.

” I think that’s how sailing gets better for everybody because people can watch the sailing and know what’s going on instead of having a bunch of guys sailing and once a day say, ‘Oh, this is our position,’ ” he said.

” So I think what we do is more important because it’s important to make sailing more fun for people to watch.”

Pete Thomas Los Angeles Times

Tech entrepreneur Philippe Kahn wins yacht race

HONOLULU — LightSurf founder and chief executive officer Philippe Kahn won
the 42nd Transpacific Yacht Race from Los Angeles to Honolulu.

Monday, Kahn and crew completed the race, which began July 4, at 3:15 a.m.
local time. Their finish time of seven days, 16 hours, 31 minutes and 17
seconds was the fourth fastest ever for the race.

” Either the weather was going to cooperate or not,” said Kahn. “We did break
a record for the daily run, and what was interesting about that is we did it
without a lot of wind.”

Along the way, Kahn used his company’s technology to keep fans abreast of
the crew’s progress. With wireless technology, he posted messages and photos
from aboard the yacht onto an online captain’s log.

LightSurf designs, deploys and manages carrier-class wireless multimedia
picture and messaging services like Sprint PictureMail. Kahn, now in his
early 50s, founded the private company in 1998 in Santa Cruz.

In 1994, he founded Starfish Software, a developer of software for wireless
devices. That company was acquired by Motorola four years later.
In 1983, he founded Borland International, a maker of professional software
development tools headquartered in Scotts Valley. Under his direction,
Borland grew to employ several thousand people worldwide and post $500
million in revenues.

Born in France, Kahn’s graduate and postgraduate work was in pure
mathematics. In the 1970s, he worked in Zurich, Switzerland, under Niklaus
Wirth on Pascal, the computer programming language.

Kahn was one of the first key programmers for the Micral, an Intel-based
machine developed in France. The machine is recognized by The Computer
Museum as the first personal computer available outside a build-it-yourself
kit.

This marks the second year running Kahn’s team has won aboard his racing
yacht, Pegasus 77. Their boat and one owned by Roy E. Disney, Pyewacket,
were the only two division 1 boats. Ten other ocean racers competed in
division 2.The race, which covered 2,225 nautical miles, began at the edge
of the Palos Verdes Peninsula and ended at the Diamond Head volcano east of
Honolulu.

The prize, called the Barn Door, is a 3.5-by-4-foot slab of carved Hawaiian
koa wood that goes to the boat with the fastest elapsed time.
Besides his consecutive Transpacific victories, Kahn also has won two
Pacific Cup races across the Pacific.

This may be the last match between Kahn aboard Pegasus 77 and the Disney
crew aboard Pyewacket. Pyewacket has been sold to an Asian buyer and Disney
expects his new yacht to arrive in the fall. Pegasus 77’s price is $1.45
million.

KAREN A. DAVIS
Sentinel staff writer

Sebastian Col Leads Shark Kahn By Five Points Going Into The Final Day In Key West

22 January 2004 – With just one more day to go, the fight for supremacy in the Melges 24 fleet at Terra Nova Trading Key West 2004 is going to go all the way. Day four saw the race committee run two more excellent races despite a second day of shifty offshore winds of 12-16 knots. The completion of race seven today meant that the discard came into play and suddenly its all change on the leader board. Overnight leader Shark Kahn scored two impressive bullets today but this wasn’t enough to hold onto the lead. France’s Sebastian Col, helming for Philippe Ligot’s P&P Team scored 7, 3 but by dropping their 59 point OCS score they now lead by five points from Shark.

At the start of race seven the wind was from 010 degrees at around 16 knots. Yet again, although the fleet got away first time there were a lot of individual recalls although none of the major protagonists were caught out this time. Off the right hand end of the line Jeff Ecklund got an excellent start and he and his crew of Harry Melges, Bill Freytag and US Skiing Gold Medallist John Moseley seemed to have hit the hyper space button as they pulled out six boat lengths on their nearest rivals in a matter of minutes. Unfortunately being fast on the right suddenly looked less promising when the breeze backed to 350 degrees half way up the beat. Shark Kahn on the other hand had come out of the shift just nicely thank you and just rounded first from Norway’s Kristian Nergaard. Paul Brotherton, helming for Scotland’s Ian Cleaver, and Silvio Santoni, helming for Italy’s Franco Maria Rao, rounded together with Brotherton just getting the inside advantage. Hard on their tails was Sebastian Col, Mike Budd, Mike Dow and Philippe Kahn whilst Jeff Ecklund had to be happy with eleventh.

As they set off down the run the wind had come back a bit to due north but was still flicking around all over the show. Shark had opened up nicely by the leeward mark whilst Brotherton had pulled up to second. After a very mediocre day yesterday Philippe Kahn was clearly determined that although he’s now out of the running for the overall title he has no intention of going quietly and a couple of judicious gybes moved him into third ahead of Col, Nergaard, Budd and Santoni.

The second beat was no less tricky and whilst Shark Kahn pulled out almost a minute’s lead Philippe managed to get past Brotherton. Nergaard came back to fourth whilst Jeff Ecklund came from tenth to fifth ahead of Santoni and Dow who rounded neck and neck just in front of Col who’d dropped to eighth. Behind this group there was now something of a gap back to the pack, which was lead by Budd.

On the final run to the finish Philippe was determined not to let his fourteen year old son have it all his own way and he did an impressive job of closing down that huge lead. Fortunately for Shark the run just wasn’t quite long enough for his Dad to get past him and he won by around five boat lengths. Nergaard eventually got the better of Brotherton while Jeff Ecklund hung onto his fifith. Flavio Favini, helming for Switzerland’s Franco Maria Rao, put in a late charge to come from tenth to six with Col seventh and Santoni eighth.

At the start of race eight we had 12-14 knots from 350 degrees and yet again the fleet got away at the first attempt but with a large number of individual recalls. Col took off for the right hand corner whilst the others opted for the more conservative approach. Yet again the wind took a hit left and yet again it was Shark Kahn who made the most of it, this time with Favini rounding overlapped inside him at the mark. Sheldon Ecklund and Nergaard had a similar tiff for third with Bruce Ayres in fifth from Sean Scarborough and Brotherton. Col came round ninth whilst Philippe Kahn was fifteenth. On the first run to a relaid leeward mark Shark opened up a little on Favini and Nergaard and all three boats pulled out some significant distance on the pack. At the mark it was Ayres who headed the pack from Col, Britain’s John Pollard and Scarborough. Philippe Kahn meanwhile picked some nice moves to come from fifteenth to eighth ahead of Brotherton and Sheldon Ecklund.

On the final two legs of the race Shark Kahn and Favini just stretched away from the competition. Shark had Favini happily under control and his better boat speed allowed him to just keep eking out the yards, eventually finishing almost three minutes clear. Behind them Nergaard must have thought he was a pretty sure thing for third but Col had other ideas, shutting down the distance between them on the run and then finally taking him on the beat. After the leaders there was a big gap back to the pack, which was chopping and changing places constantly. Brotherton eventually took fifth from Philippe Kahn, Ayres and Santoni. The Kahns aren’t the only ones with a little family rivalry going on out here and the Ecklund/Melges brotherly war went Sheldon and Hans’s way this race but only just with Jeff and Harry right behind them in eighth and nine respectively.

In the overall standings Sebastian Col is on 21 points, five ahead of Shark Kahn. Kristian Nergaard is third with 42 from Flavio Favini 46, Paul Brotherton 47, Sheldon Ecklund 53, Philippe Kahn 56, Bruce Ayres 58,Jeff Ecklund 64 and Silvio Santoni 70. Tomorrow’s final race is sure to bring another great spectacle as the overall standings and title are decided, the Ecklund and Melges brothers slug it out for family supremacy and Philippe Kahn has one last go at besting his son Shark. Joking about ending up on the loosing end of this family rivalry after racing today Philippe commented – “I’ve offered him unlimited pocket money to buy drugs, drink and women, but heck it’s just not working!”.