being there

For more than a century the lure of sailing to paradise has inspired thousands of offshore sailors to take on the 2225-mile challenge of racing to Hawaii. Since 1906 the Los Angeles to Honolulu Transpacific Yacht Race (more commonly known as Transpac) has been organized by the Transpacific Yacht Club to give offshore sailors the opportunity to realize this dream.

The 52nd edition of this classic ocean race will have its first starting gun fired on 27 June 2023. On this date and two successive dates – 29 June and 1 July – waves of monohulls and multihulls will set off from the start, off Los Angeles’ Point Fermin. From here they will sail upwind 26 miles west to clear the first mark of the course at the west end of Catalina Island with the next mark being the finish line buoy off Honolulu’s famous volcanic crater at Diamond Head – 2,200 miles to the southwest.

How they get there is the challenge of this race. Each team needs to do a careful analysis of weather forecasts that, when combined with the performance of the boat, are used to develop an optimal routing strategy around the ever-present but ever changing North Pacific High.

Rhumb line or great circle tracks rarely work: the light air of the High can be a trap with lessons in drifting. Sagging south from the rhumb line gets you trade wind breezes that bring speed, but at the price of sailing extra distance. The trick is finding the best balance between the two, and most of the best navigators in offshore racing history have come to race Transpac to meet this challenge. More here.