Pacific Cup and host KYC prove to be a good match
It is not likely you will find any kamaaina in Hawaii, and especially in its recreational boating community, who doesn't know all about the Transpacific Yacht Race. After all, the Transpac's fleet has been racing from California to Honolulu on odd-numbered years for more than a century.
There is, however, another biennial transpacific yacht race - the Pacific Cup - that runs each summer in the even-numbered years that, while well known among sailors, may be less familiar to others.
Next month's Pacific Cup from San Francisco to Kaneohe Bay marks the race's 14th running since 1980. But the fact that its finish line was once off Kauai and is now on the windward side of Oahu, and that its postrace activities are within the confines of Kaneohe Yacht Club may somewhat conspire against the general public's awareness and appreciation of the race.
Transpac, after all, has a high-profile finish off world famous Diamond Head and its fleet traditionally berths in the state-run Ala Wai Harbor, where Transpac Row has been a decades-old institution and always open to the public.
The Pacific Cup's history, nevertheless, is really quite noteworthy. And thanks to veteran KYC member Lou Ickler, this year's Pacific Cup Yacht Club commodore, its high points have been well documented in the race's official program.
According to Ickler, several members of San Francisco's Ballena Bay Yacht Club first got excited in the late 1970s about organizing a biennial "Fun Race to Hawaii" for both cruising and racing yachts.
After exploring different options, they found that members of Kauai's Nawiliwili Yacht Club would volunteer to host the finish line, so the first four races, from 1980 through 1986, all ran from the Golden Gate to offshore of Kauai's southeast coast.
Apparently due to its own success, however, following the 1986 race, race organizers began searching for another home port in the Islands to host the finish.
The Ala Wai Harbor was out because at the time the now defunct Kenwood Cup International Offshore Series fleet was using those facilities. But apparently to everyone's relief, the KYC membership agreed its club had the facilities and the expertise to handle the job.
For the past 10 races it would seem the match between the Pacific Cup and the KYC has been extraordinarily successful, as the number of repeat entries show. One boat, a Cal 40 named California Girl, actually logged its millionth mile of racing the Pacific Cup after the last race.
And, of course, there may be another reason for the race's popularity.
After an often-perilous 2,000-plus-mile voyage, what could be sweeter to a salt-encrusted sailor than to tie up to the dock at a place like the KYC, with its awesome backdrop of the Koolau Mountains?
Maybe it's knowing there is a refreshing swimming pool and more than one ice-cold beverage just steps away.
The Pacific Cup will have staggered starts from July 14 through 19 this year, with the slowest boats starting first. The first boats should begin to cross the finish around July 28, weather permitting.