I suppose publicity can never start too early so it’s no surprise that the Transpacific Yacht Club has just published the Notice of Race for the 46th Transpac race to start July 4, 2011.  The Transpac is the oldest and longest running ocean race and draws hundreds of competitors every odd numbered year.  The course is from San Pedro, California (sometimes referred to as a Long Beach start) to Diamond Head outside of Honolulu, Hawaii.  That’s 2,225 miles (if all goes well) across the open Pacific. 

Photo courtesy of transpacrace.com

In 2009, the race drew 50 boats and 450 competitors from all over the globe including distant ports like New Zealand.  The course record, set by Kiwi super maxi Alfa Romeo, is 5 days, 14 hours and 36 minutes.  Most boats take 8-12 days depending on wind and conditions. 

Originally, the Transpac was the vision of King Kalakaua as a promotional push for mainlanders to visit Hawaii.  The king didn’t live to see his marketing at work, but the first race was organized by Clarence MacFarlane in 1906 and has served as a showdown competition for the likes of Roy Disney and Larry Ellison. 

The race was originally designed to start in San Francisco, but the city couldn’t accommodate the event that was to begin only 27 days after the great earthquake.  So MacFarlane moved the start south to Los Angeles and with only one exception in 1939, the 44 races have started in So Cal. 

The race has been run with as many as 80 boats (1979) and with as few as 2 boats (1932).  Boats have ranged in size from 161 feet down to 25 feet and crews have ranged in age from 17 to 73 years old.  A couple of seventy year olds even raced it double handed in 2007. 

I’ve never had the privilege of racing downwind but I did do a delivery on Ragtime back from Hawaii in 1997 which took us 18 days.  Maybe I’ll get lucky in 2011 and get to go downhill on the fun part. 

For more info, visit the Transpac website at www.transpacrace.com.