Pyewacket needs boost to break race record
» Young isle brothers fine after fixing rudder
STORY SUMMARY »
The boat favored to finish the Transpac race in the fastest time remains in a position to do so, but light winds threaten to rob Pyewacket of a chance to break the record set in 2005.
"It's not over yet but they need to get going," Roy E. Disney said from Honolulu in a Transpac update relayed by e-mail. "A couple of 400-mile days would help."
The 94-foot Pyewacket, rebuilt specifically to recapture the record Disney held from 1999 to 2005, still leads the fastest-rated boats.
But the highest daily distance mark so far belongs to Philippe Kahn's Pegasus 101 at 299 miles. After that swift run Tuesday, however, the wind died to the point where Kahn took a swim off the side.
Complicating the picture was the failure of the race's new Flagship tracking system. Satellite transponders placed on each of the boats started going dead after about five days.
So race officials went back to their old system of daily radio checks on each boat's position.
Seventy-three boats started the race, but two, Gaviota and Ginny, have dropped out.
To beat the record, Pyewacket would have to arrive by around 2:04 a.m. Sunday.
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The youngest crew ever to sail the Transpac race includes two brothers from Kailua. Here is a photo of the crew just before departing for the start. They are Sean Doyle, 19, Kailua, left; Justin Doyle, 18, Kailua; Ted White, 23, Goleta, Calif.; Roscoe Fowler, 20, Honolulu; and Cameron Biehl, 19, San Diego. CLICK FOR LARGE
Race breezes by for young boaters
Transpac competitors have had occasional thrills, but mostly it has been smooth sailing
By day, dolphins arrive at times to play in the bow wake.
At night, the lights of ships might appear on the horizon. Otherwise, under low cloud cover, it is utter blackness but for the glow of cockpit instruments.
Three hours on deck. Then two hours below for a nap.
Those are the rhythms aboard a 35-foot sloop called On the Edge of Destiny, close to the halfway point in the Transpac race from Southern California to Honolulu.
"It's a beautiful day out," said Sean Doyle, 19, of Kailua, the skipper, in a ship-to-shore interview yesterday. "The sun is shining. We're about to make lunch. Everybody's OK. Crew morale is high."
What would lift it higher, said Doyle, are brisk winds.
Even with its spinnaker flying, the boat has been puttering along in a 10- to 12-mph breeze.
"We're hoping for something more," he said.
On the Edge of Destiny, a 35-foot sloop, is participating in this year's Transpac race. CLICK FOR LARGE
Doyle and his brother Justin, 18, are part of the youngest-ever Transpac crew in a race that has some young contenders. Also aboard Destiny are Roscoe Fowler, 20, of Honolulu; Ted White, 23, of Goleta, Calif.; and Cameron Biehl, 19, of San Diego.
Their average age, 19.8, beats out the 22.6 average on a 1969 Transpac boat called the Argonaut.
Two other boats have young crews this year: Morning Glory, the subject of a documentary by Roy E. Disney, and Cirrus, skippered by 22-year-old Lindsey Austin of Honolulu.
The Doyle brothers sailed with their father, Dan, in the 2006 Pacific Cup race from San Francisco to Kaneohe, and the family decided they were ready to tackle the Transpac. Dan Doyle sailed Destiny under another name, Two Guys on the Edge, to win "doublehanded," or crew-of-two, honors four Transpacs in a row.
"They are doing really well, third in class and seventh overall," said Dan. "Having sailed with them in the Pacific Cup, I really had no qualms."
So far, the crew has had two brushes with trouble.
During a crowded start Thursday, another boat sideswiped Destiny. That could result in a formal complaint and hearing once the race is over.
"We came into the starting line, and we were just in between a whole bunch of big boats," Sean Doyle recalled. There was no room on either side to maneuver, he said.
In the crunch, Destiny barely missed the boat carrying the race officials.
For days after the start, Destiny's crew spotted other boats, but since then it has been a lonesome, almost mundane race, punctuated only by a second mishap Sunday.
The rudder broke, sending the boat into a spin.
"Because the wheel was just free-spinning, the boat spun itself out into the wind, and we were basically sitting there doing circles," said Doyle.
The crew quickly brought down the spinnaker and attached the spare rudder.
The boat got underway again with no injuries, no damage and without losing too much time. The main rudder has since been fixed, Doyle said.
Sleep, meanwhile, remains a precious commodity.
"We're trying to do an alternating watch system," said Doyle. "We have three people on deck at a time. Three hours on deck and then sleep for two."
This makes for some rude awakenings -- "especially in the middle of the night: 'It's not my turn yet! It can't be!'"
Some longer sack time awaits just a few days away.
"If it picks up a bit," said Doyle, "we'll be in by Sunday afternoon."