Aloha is part of Transpac tradition
When any event has survived more than a century, it is bound to have many traditions. This summer's 101-year-old Transpacific Yacht Race is no exception.
That's not to say nothing has changed in this venerable sailing contest over the years. But most often those changes have been the result of such outside influences as improved technology, historic events, and, occasionally, politics.
Transpac's first race in 1906 might have begun in San Francisco had it not been for that city's infamous earthquake and fire of that year. The starting line was moved south to Los Angeles instead.
Since then the start has only moved from somewhere near the L.A. harbor five times: Newport Beach in 1928, Santa Barbara in 1923 and 1932, Santa Monica in 1936, and San Francisco in 1939.
The finish line, of course, has always been directly offshore of Oahu's famous Diamond Head, just upwind from Waikiki and Honolulu Harbor.
Monohulled sailboats, with some recent exceptions, have been the accepted vessels for the competition; however, the fastest yachts' overall designs have changed dramatically since the first race.
Large wood and steel yachts (the 161-foot Goodwill was the biggest) with their schooner, ketch, or yawl rigs were the predominant winners until new designs and the advent of lightweight fiberglass hulls made them obsolete in the early 1970s.
One tradition that has not changed and that has endeared the Transpac to the thousands of sailors who have completed its 2,225-mile course is the warm greeting of aloha each has received once they stepped off their boat in Hawaii.
After the first race in 1906, it was chronicled that, "the entertainment for visiting yachtsmen went on from sunrise to sunrise." And that sort of welcome has been the rule ever since.
Carrying on that tradition this year, Hawaii Yacht Club members Barbara Silvey and Miles Anderson are currently enlisting a small army of volunteers to be official hosts for every boat that finishes the race.
As they point out, as few people as two or three couples can put together the usual leis, pupus, and mai tais that are the mainstays of a mariner's welcome, when the boat is small.
Larger vessels and their corresponding larger crews, of course, usually require the resources of a restaurant, a company, or an organization to provide such hospitality.
Hosting a Transpac yacht on its arrival has always been a satisfying way to be connected to an event with such a rich history in Hawaii. And it often offers a few paybacks, like an afternoon sail once the racers have rested.
If you, your friends, or your company would like to get involved with this year's Transpac, give Barbara or Miles a call at 926-0250 or 381-7888, respectively.
They will be able to give you all you will need to know to greet your adopted boat and its crew, even if it's your first time. And it's quite likely you will be starting a personal tradition of your own.