Transpac Race 2011 – Patches at Transpac Row

Just in: Patches at Transpac Row - Transpac Race 2011
Kimball Livingston/Transpac
Transpac Race 2011 46th event is a 2,225-mile course from California to Hawaii, San Pedro to Honolulu.

Jorge Ripstein's TP52, Patches, made Diamond Head Light and the Transpac finish on Saturday at 20:39:38, eight days out of a July 8 start from the mainland. But the last day of the Transpacific Yacht Race, Los Angeles to Honolulu, packed-in a lot more excitement than anybody was counting on aboard the boat that had seemed firmly the Division Two leader.

'At 1045 we broke the hard carbon backstay, and I thought the race was over,' crewman Bruce Cooper said. 'We sailed the last 12 hours at half throttle on starboard tack, full throttle on port tack. But you have to finish on starboard. Our bowman, Peter Wheelon, went up the mast to set up a jury rig - to make it possible to keep sailing at all - and he said right out it's the most scared he's ever been. But he got it done - with Spectra line - and it kept the mast up. But we could see the mast pumping. In the Molokai Channel it started blowing 20-25, so we reefed. When you've been working the boat hard, pumping the main on the waves, making gains, it's disheartening to have to throttle back.'

So did they hold their number one position in Division Two? 'It depends on what happens out there tonight,' in the words of John Rumsey, navigator. The breeze could go up. Or down. Somebody could make a mistake . . .

On corrected time, Patches started Saturday with six hours in the bank over fellow Mexican entry Vincitore, a Reichel-Pugh designed TP52 owned by Ricardo Brockman. Patches could well hold onto first in division. But whatever happens, given Lorenzo Berho's apparent second-place finish in Division One (to Bella Mente) with the Kernan 70, Peligroso, we have a Transpac in which Mexico is swinging some weight.

Digressing: At today's welcome party for Peligroso, young Diego Berho was asked (not by me) what did you miss most out there? '

'My girl friend.'

What did you miss second-most?

'My other girl friend.'

So, John Rumsey, the consummate veteran, is listed as the navigator of Patches. Asked (not by me) how many Transpacs he had done, he answered, 'Fourteen. I think fourteen. One more if you add the Tahiti Race.' As someone who goes back to the heyday of Windward Passage and the introduction of the sleds, Rumsey sounded a bit wistful at times. 'There were two light days in the middle when you could get a shower,' he said, 'but when it's blowing, on one of these boats, you're just hanging on.'

Rumsey also claimed that fellow crewman Skip McCormack was really the navigator. McCormack said, 'John's the navigator.'

I'm glad they've got that sorted out. All agreed that a TP52 has to be sailed like a dinghy, with nothing ever cleated. 'You can plane in 14 knots if you rock it up,' Bruce Cooper said.

For Patches, this was a race to the race that began when the boat was withdrawn for a family emergency, then re-entered as that cleared, late in the season. A new mast was lying ready on the dock, but this was beyond Transpac's measurement cutoff. The crew spent the last weeks before the race rebuilding the boat - which had been long sitting - with the old rig. Forget about practice time and development time. They were still nailing it back together as the sun went down on the day before the start.

For the record:
The first Division Six boat, Richard Mainland's Paddy Wagon, a Ross 40, docked while the Patches welcome party was still rolling - at 22:01:08 - and Vincitore, Pegasus-MotionX, and Naos Two have all made 25-mile check-ins as of 00:42 Sunday. Considering how many boats will be coming in during daylight Sunday, I think I'm going to miss a few arrivals tonight.

Transpac Race website