As a former participant, and friend of many of this years entries, I want to take a moment to call attention the Singlehanded Transpac race that is underway. If you haven’t been following it, a great race is happening. The website is: http://22.214.171.124/index.html.
It has been impossible for me to avoid checking every day to see how everyone is doing! I did some rigging work for a few of the racers in the last week before the start on June 24th. The entries of this race are really “My People”, and I wish I was out there with them. They are a real bunch of characters, and truly great folks to know. Many of them are some of my greatest spiritual supporters, and I am one of theirs. Some simply do not have winning on their minds, but wouldn’t miss the race for the world. A few were in the race in 1996 when I won, and are back again. I feel like I sort of “missed the bus” by not being out there with them.
Here are some of my friends in the race, starting with those roughly closest to Hawaii. I will just list a few, there are 23 entries!
Anna Stockel: All who know Anna know she is one tough chick. She is sailing her Santa Cruz 50 “Sundowner” with the goal of first to finish in Hawaii, boat for boat. She has the fastest boat, but it’s not easy to sail a 50 footer at full speed. A lot of ‘tough’ guys would cower when those big sails start flogging! She will have a real challenge for first to finish from Chuck Beazell, but Anna has an indomitable spirit and will never give up. Anna has been a great supporter of mine, and I am flattered to have her respect and support.
Chuck Beazell: Chuck is sailing his Hunter 54 called “Joe”. Chuck is a really great sailor. He was in the race in 1996, and fought like hell to stay in front of me (I was on “Rumbleseat”). He knew I would beat him on corrected time, but wanted to beat me boat for boat. My boat was much better for singlehanding but he kept pushing. He push so hard he broke his mast with only about 50 miles to go! But get this: He wanted to beat me so bad, he rigged a brilliant jury rig with his spinnaker poles! With a mere 15 miles to go, I came past and he called me on the VHF radio to reluctantly admit defeat. But he finished under Jury rig in a great display of seamanship. He is very determined and Anna will have her hands full staying ahead till the end. The suspense of who will win this little battle is killing me!
Steve Mann (“Tawodi”), and Barry Ruff (“AXA Pacific”): This is another great “race within a race” Both are racing Wylie 39’s (by our favorite designer, Tom Wylie!), with Steve’s being greatly modified. Steve is younger, very athletic, and looks tough to beat, but may push his equipment too hard. Barry has done a very impressive job preparing his boat, a boat which I liked a great deal. He has a very relaxed and stoic approach, which over the long haul will make him tough. Steve better watch out for Barry, Barry looks like a tough old fart to me.
Ed English: Ed was also in the 96 race aboard his old “Orange Blossom Special”. He is really sharp guy, with a good sense of humor. His old boat (35ft) had some steering control and a few structural problems, but the new Orange Blossom (42ft) should be much better prepared.
Gregg Morris: Greg is truly one of the “Characters” of this race aboard his Moore 24 “Color Blind”. If you saw his boats paint job, you would understand the name! (Actually I just love the colors on this wild little boat) This is Greg’s 4th time in this race, so he’s bound to get it right this time. He will be very tough to beat on corrected time, the Moore has a very good handicap for this race. Greg has a couple of good quotes I often use: His description of the event in general: “A bug light for weirdo’s with boats”. Regarding the safety rules of the race (Gregg hates rules): “These remind me of Mexican Laws: vaguely written but strictly enforced!”
Ken (The General) Roper: The General (no kidding, he was a brigadier General!) has raced this race more than anyone else, on his “Harrier”, a Finn Flyer 31. He embodies spirit of the racers as much as anyone. He is also one of the funniest humans I have ever met. I wish I knew him better, but I never can make it past a couple of sentences in conversation before he cracks me up. He doesn’t even try, but his dry, derisive comments about everything just kill me. Everyone loves the General, if you met him you would too.
Terry McKelvey: Watch out for Terry on her Cal 2-27 “Sensei”. Not only does Anna have a shot of first to finish, Terry will be a threat for 1st on handicap, meaning there is a possibility that Women will sweep this race for the first time! This would be a good year for it, with Ellen MacArthur winning the Singlehanded Transatlantic. I like what Americas Cup heroine Dawn Riley had to say about Ellen’s win: “I think it’s because the Men won’t ask for directions!”. Seriously though, Terry is really involved in the singlehanded sailing scene around here, and a win would be well deserved.
Mike Jefferson: I must say that Mike is a very good friend and supporter. He is a technical whiz, and a fanatical believer in being prepared. So much so that we love to bug him about all the stuff he crams into his Yamaha 33 “Fox Fyre”. In return he rags on me for being a “fanatical racer”. In truth we both greatly respect each other’s approach. The wonderful thing about Mike is that while he’s sometimes a little socially insecure on land, at sea he writes the some of the best stuff you’ll ever read about what makes us go do this crazy event (read his race reports!). He’s not afraid to make fun of his (our?) human foibles, so his stories say a little about all of us.
I could write a book on these folks and others, but it’s time to check on the web for their position reports! And tomorrow it’s back to getting ready for MY race to Hawaii!
I’ll keep you posted,
Bruce Schwab Skipper,
Made in America Globe Challenges