The Transpacific Yacht Race morning roll call was interrupted yesterday, when Stardust reported that they had collided with a whale
The Transpacific Yacht Race morning roll call was interrupted yesterday, when Stardust reported an unusual incident. Peter and Patricia Anderson’s Wylie 46 from Laguna Beach, Calif. had just hit a whale.
A report relayed to shore by the communications vessel Alaska Eagle said it was apparently a “glancing blow [with] no damage to either one.”
Meanwhile, the heretofore bleak weather reports brightened considerably with a promise of trade winds along the southern track, although none of the eight Aloha Division boats had found them yet. The Alohas are harbingers of the 33-boat fleet that will be complete after Divisions II and IV start Saturday and Divisions I and II go Sunday.
The forecast for the next two days: “Stronger trades expected between 20-25 north latitude with over 20 knots possible south of 20 NL.” No boats are expected to venture as far south as 20 NL, but 25 is right on course.
Mark Rudiger, the Transpac and victorious Whitbread Round the World Race navigator, said, “I was pretty encouraged this morning. It’s definitely looking more traditional. If things keep shaping up this way, it’s potentially record-breaking weather.”
And Rudiger will be aboard a potential record-breaking boat: Philippe Kahn’s new Reichel/Pugh 75 Pegasus, currently berthed in San Pedro a few miles from the starting area and doing daily trial runs to prepare for Sunday. Rudiger is as impatient as the fabled winged horse that decorates the colorful hull – dark blue at the stern fading to white at the bow.
“I wish we were going Saturday,” he said, fearful that the conditions might fade before Pegasus breaks from the gate. “Right now it’s looking good.”
Pegasus’ strongest rivals figure to be Roy E. Disney’s Pyewacket, which set the record of 7 days 11 hours 41 minutes 27 seconds in 1999, and Bob McNulty’s new Chance, a near sister ship of Pegasus.
It will be just a matter of time until those boats overtake the Alohas, which will have had a six-day headstart, although they may have trouble running down Shanakee II. Jim Warmington’s new 75-footer from Balboa has a strong lead and is in good position to benefit first from the trade winds, which have moved north toward the rhumb (direct) line.
Shanakee II had the fleet’s best 24-hour run of 172 miles, although Stardust was next best with 165, right up to the moment it struck the wayward whale.
Also, as the fleet made a slight course change to the right to parallel the rhumb line to Hawaii, an early dive deep south by Wendy Siegal’s Cal 40 Willow Wind started to pay off. The boat from Sunset Beach, Calif. moved up from sixth to fourth place in Aloha A class.