RESURGENCE OF AN OFFSHORE CLASSIC — W
"Maeva!" (Welcome!) As arriving racers will quickly learn, Tahitians take great pride in their cultural traditions.
learn about the resurgence of a Pacific Ocean classic: the 3,570-mile Transpac Tahiti race, which is slated to begin May 28 from Long Beach. When first staged in 1925, this marathon sprint from California to Tahiti's Pointe Venus became the longest nonstop yacht race in the world — 1,350 miles longer than the Hawaii Transpac. Even today, apart from around-the-world races, it is probably still the longest. (The Route du Rhum — from Europe to the Caribbean — is 30 miles shorter.) In addition to the Transpac Tahiti's jaw-dropping length,
though, there's another key factor that sets it apart from its better-known West Coast cousins, the (Hawaii) Transpac, the Pacific Cup and the Vic-Maui. That being that navigators must contend with the meteorological wild card called the ITCZ (Intertropical Convergence Zone) when choosing where to cross the equator. At a gathering of potential entrants earlier this year, veteran ocean racer John Jourdane laid out the elements of the course: "It's a harder race than Transpac in a lot of ways. You go around the west end of Catalina, and instead of being hard on the wind for a day or two or three, you actually put up your kite and start heading southwest. Then you run with your spinnaker all the way down to the equator — to the doldrums. "The wind comes forward, and instead of running you're reaching. It's often a pretty hard, windy reach until you find your way through the doldrums. You'll work your way through light winds with a lot of thunderstorms. And when you
Below: In 1964, the elegant Herreshoff ketch 'Ticonderoga' set a new record that held for 30 years.
Above: 'Medicine Man' is the only contender that's run this course before. In 2008 she broke the existing record, but 'Magnitude 80' did even better. DAN NERNEY / ROLEX
come out the other side, it's a hard reach all the way to Tahiti. But once you arrive, it's absolutely wonderful." In 2020, the traditional Polynesian welcome that Page 66 •
• November, 2019
arriving sailors receive will likely be more lavish and colorful than ever — race organizers at Transpac YC have teamed up with the nautical event specialists of Tahiti-based Archipelagoes. As racers will learn upon ar rival, French Polynesians take gr eat p ride in showcasing their cultural heritage through music, dance, sport and cuisine.
Perched beside Mata-
o fully ap- vai Bay, where Capt. preciate the leg- Cook's 'Endeavour' once moored, the Pointe Venus acy of this venlight will usher racers toerable competi- ward the ﬁnish line. tion, it's helpful to turn back the clock to the early days of California statehood. As West Coast history buffs know, during the Gold Rush and the years of rapid growth that followed, fresh foodstuffs — particularly fruits and vegetables — were in very short supply and commanded skyhigh prices. As a result, entrepreneurial mariners such as Captain Matthew Turner — after whom a Bay Area tall ship was named — proved that making regular produce runs to Hawaii or Papeete and back could be extremely profitable. Turner eventually segued into shipbuilding, with tremendous success. One of his most famous vessels was the schooner Papeete, built for the packet trade. She once recorded a swift passage of 17 days from San Francisco to Papeete. What's all this got to do with a contemporary ocean race? Those early merchant ships firmly established the California-to-Tahiti trade routes that undoubtedly served as inspiration to gentlemen ocean sailors of the early SHARON GREEN / WWW.ULTIMATESAILING.COM
LATITUDE / ANDY
hether your involvement in offshore racing includes eagerly standing watch at all hours in all weather, or is limited to watching transponder tracks move across your computer screen while you're comfortably perched in an easy chair, we think you'll be interested to
The November 2019 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.