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Race to Molokai

2023 October 1

The Transpac race from Los Angeles to Hawaii is becoming a family affair

Pole back and bow down, the SC 52 Westerly plows through the Molokai channel to a first-overall finish.
Sharon Green photo

Continuing his family’s legacy Roy P. Disney skippered Pyewacket to a first place in Division Three, and nailed his 26th Transpac. Standish Fleming’s J/125 Nereid was first in Division Four and second overall. In Division Six Cecil Rossi’s Ho’okolohe claimed victory with Rossi’s son Steve, plus Fuzz Foster and son Fizz on onboard. Mike Sudo’s Macondo won Division Seven and Dan Merino and the crew of Juno triumphed in Division Eight. The Barn Door for first to finish went to Rio100, with Sebastian Moshayedi stepping in as skipper for his father Manouch.

In the multihull, category Justin Shaffer’s Mod 70 Orion took just four days and 17 hours to make the passage to Hawaii, which was swift but not fast enough to beat Mighty Merloe’s 2017 record. Orion was followed by Maserati six hours later. Argo turned back after a false start and returned to the course three days later for an unofficial “do-over.”

Blue Moon, sailed by Russ Johnson and John Turner, was the last boat to arrive earning them the Tail End Charlie Award. The duo had crossed the start line a full half-hour late, joyfully waving and blowing a conch shell. They finished just as cheerily, 16 and a half days later.

Sixteen days? Part of the attraction of distance racing, Messano said, is the family atmosphere the boat takes on during those long days and nights at sea, with shared meals, hot-bunking, admiring sunsets and moonrises; tending to their mates’ occasional ailments and listening to each other’s stories.

The crew of Good Trouble is made up of sailors from diverse backgrounds thanks to Offshore Racing Outreach, which offers hands-on bluewater racing experiences.
Taggart Lee/Ultimate Sailing photo 
“You watch out for each other, and care about each other out there,” said Alli Bell. “Transpac is actually one big family.” Bell is a Transpac veteran who had to sit this one out to tend to Transpac Yacht Club Board of Director duties. But she grew up in the cockpit of her grandparents Lapworth 50 Westward, listening to prior generations talk about Transpacs in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. “I felt such a sense of pride and tradition that my family had been a part of the race. It made me excited and jealous and definitely fueled my interest. But if not for my uncles deciding to race again (in 2013) I’m not sure I would have ever sailed a Transpac. I didn’t see that path because someone with a boat has to ask you to go. So that’s where my family history comes in. It helped me get a leg up.”

Just as you have legacy students in college admissions, offshore racing can be seen as a legacy sport as well. And a leg up can be hard to find.

Capt. Marie Rogers sailed the Transpac with the Offshore Racing Outreach campaign aboard the Andrews 56 Good Trouble. ORO was founded to “introduce a more diverse group of individuals to the world of yacht racing” and partnered with J/World Sailing School on the Transpac effort.

“Most of us agree we don’t see ethnic diversity in the sport of sailing,” said Rogers, a USCG licensed captain and sailing instructor, who was the first black woman to take the helm of a major yacht club in the U.S. as staff commodore at Los Angeles Yacht Club.

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