SINGLEHANDED TRANSPAC 2006 several more days stuck to blue flypaper, (The General reported that a pelican landed behind him and paddled right up to Harrier), near the end of the first week, the bigger boats were starting to enjoy the thrills and spills of a normal TransPac — some spills being bigger than others. “Dogbark was pooped last night for only the second time in her life,” reported Al Hughes on a race log posted on the sponsoring Singlehanded Sailing Society website (www.sfbaysss.org). “The first was in the Southern Ocean during her BOC 15 years ago (as Kanga Birtles Jarkan Builders), the second was last night about 0400 when a large wave peaked at just the wrong time and took a big plop in the galley and down the companionway. The good news is, it rinsed the galley out real well. I spent the morning mopping and bailing. . .”
hree of the four frontrunners were race veterans. The ‘new guy’ was Andy Evans, sailing the Olson 30 Foolish Muse. If ever there was a right tool for the job, the ultralight Olson 30 has proven to be it for the Solo TransPac. George Olson’s sleek late ‘70s design has been entered no fewer than 15 times — an average of one per race — and has won division honors four times, overall honors three times, and in 1988 broke an elapsed time record that had stood for 10 years. Bill Merrick (right) took up macrame on the trip over. This is the repair he made to 'Ergo's headstay after the forward chainplate broke.
And Andy was one of those hardcore guys we mentioned earlier. As one of few singlehanders sailing his home waters off Victoria, British Columbia, Andy had been sailing the Muse hard for three years and winning 50- and 100-mile races against fully-crewed boats. His goal in the Solo TransPac was “to stay in racing mode the entire trip.” And that’s just what he was doing. The downside of such intensity is that sleep and gear usually suffer. Within a week, Andy had blown out four feet of his #1 — and repaired it — but couldn’t sleep for more than 10 minutes at a time because his autopilot would start squawking every time the wind shifted more than 15 degrees. As a result, he was one of the first to report hallucinations — one of the more entertaining hallmarks of any Singlehanded TransPac. Andy’s involved giving orders
Ken Stuart's Pacific Seacraft 37 was one of only a handful of boats to arrive during daylight hours. Upper right, Mimi greets her man. A great part of finishing a trans-ocean race is reuniting with loved ones upon arrival.
to crew and wondering why they weren’t following through . . . and what was he doing on a mountain — in Germany? Fortunately, the competitor-as-comrade phenomenon is also a hallmark of the race. Bob Johnston on Ragtime! was able to talk Andy through the autopilot fix via SSB. By punching the right buttons in the right order, Andy was finally able to silence the autopilot and get some shuteye.
eppe’s strategy is to sail smart rather than hard. After so many years and so many miles (between the last race and this one, he spent two years cruising in Mexico), Mark has developed a sixth sense about this sort of thing. A few days into any race, he pretty much knows how well he can possibly do — and just how hard to push to accomplish that. Around halfway through the Solo T-Pac, he knew he should start getting serious. But at the same time, he didn’t want to commit the race's ultimate fax paus: being the first to hoist a spinnaker.
The August 2006 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.