Built for the same purpose but separated by decades of racing technology, two of the boats claiming prized positions in this year’s Transpacific Yacht Race provided a striking contrast as they sat in neighboring docks.
Lending Club, a powerful trimaran engineered to speed across the ocean, made a strong run at the course record and was the first yacht to finish the 2,225-mile voyage from Los Angeles to Honolulu on Thursday after close to 51/2 days at sea.
Dorade, a wooden yacht built in 1930 and 77 years removed from its last Transpac victory, took just over 12 days to complete the crossing and arrived Saturday afternoon as the projected overall winner based on corrected time.
The fleet standings are compiled using a handicap system and won’t be finalized until Thursday as boats continue to arrive today. Dorade held a three-hour lead in corrected time as of Saturday morning and is in line to finish atop the standings, just as it did in 1936.
“We thought if we could match the ’36 record that would be absolutely fantastic. To do what we’ve done is beyond expectations,” Dorade skipper and co-owner Matt Brooks said Saturday after securing the boat at Hawaii Yacht Club.
Brooks and his wife, Pam, bought Dorade in 2010 and spent more than a year refitting it for ocean racing. They entered the Transpac — against the advice of many along the way — as part of a campaign to run the races Dorade won in the 1930s.
“They said we’d never make it and if we did it would take four weeks, and I was risking the boat because she’s a fine piece of antique furniture, she can’t be taken out into the ocean,” Brooks said.
“Really there were eight of us on this — seven crew members and the eighth was the boat and she didn’t disappoint us. She performed flawlessly and did everything we asked her to do.”
Dorade, the oldest yacht to enter the Transpac and one of just two wooden boats in the race, was part of the first wave of yachts to depart from the starting line off the Los Angeles coast on July 8. Lending Club was in the last set, starting its pursuit of the course record on July 13.
John Sangmesiter, owner and skipper of Lending Club, and the nine-member Tritium Racing crew passed the Diamond Head lighthouse at 9:52 p.m. Thursday, finishing in five days, 11 hours, 52 minutes and 33 seconds while navigating through an open-ocean obstacle course that left the yacht visibly scarred.
Sangmeister counted six impacts with ocean debris, including logs the size of telephone poles presumably swept to sea by the 2011 tsunami that devastated parts of Japan.
The somber reminders of the disaster made for some treacherous moments during the voyage. Sangmeister said the crew spent 14 hours on repairs over the course of the race.
“We were steaming along at about 26 knots and I just heard this ‘thunk’ and didn’t know what happened. I thought the mast had fallen down,” Sangmeister said.
“It gave me great pause about what we were doing on the water and how we were sailing the boat at night.”
The crew still made up enough time to stay within sight of the record of five days, nine hours, 18 minutes, 26 seconds set in 1997 as they charged toward the finish on Thursday.
But as the record drifted out of reach, Sangmeister called for the crew to ease back and enjoy the rest of the cruise toward Diamond Head rather than potentially put them in jeopardy.
“(Thursday) afternoon we were frantic to try to break the record and I told everyone to throttle back because I thought they were going to get hurt,” Sangmeister said after completing his fourth Transpac but his first as skipper.
“There were some that were disappointed. There was sort of a long, quiet pause on the boat and then we had a nice meal together, we went sailing and we brought the boat home.”
Although the record survived another two years, the mood at the Waikiki Yacht Club dock was still decidedly celebratory late Thursday night when Lending Club pulled in as the first of 58 entries to complete the crossing.
“Yes, I’m disappointed, but I’m also profoundly grateful to my crew,” Sangmeister said. “They kept a can-do spirit throughout and sometimes you get dealt those cards and you keep playing.”
Bob Hayward’s Manatea arrived Friday morning as the first monohull to finish, staying ahead of the pack to Oahu over an 11-day journey.
“Our objective was to do the Transpac, push the boat as hard we could without breaking it, be safe, of course, and have fun,” Hayward said. “We never contemplated actually coming in first, but we just got those right conditions where we could rumble this boat along.”
Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin 100 captured the Merlin Trophy as the fastest monohull in the fleet. The Australian crew finished in just over six days and eight hours. Wizard won the Barn Door Trophy as the fastest monohull with all manual control systems.
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