Transpac 2005: Pre-race jitters

The excitement mounts before this year's centennial Transpac

It finally arrived, July 10, the day before the first of three staggered starts that will send off a total of 75 boats on the 43rd running of the Trans Pacific Yacht Race 2005 which so happens to be celebrating its' Centennial anniversary this year. This year's entry list is the second largest ever in this granddaddy of races. Tomorrow, 34 boats in four Divisions will jockey for positions on the starting line before the cannon fires at 1300 hours. Divisions V, the Cal 40's, Aloha A and Aloha B will start July 11; followed by a July 15 start for the 21 boats in Divisions' III and IV; and the final July 17 start for the 20 strong in Divisions' I and II. These latter two, will be looking to break records and bring home the coveted Barn Door Trophy for fastest elapsed time. All the big names are represented here, Hasso Plattner's Morning Glory a MaxZ 86 is the scratch boat of the competition, barely squeezing a handicap disadvantage of 0.01 sec/mile over Randall Pittman's Genuine Risk (DuBois 90), and a 0.04 sec/mile handicap disadvantage over the record holder Roy Disney's which will be sailing a new Pyewacket (MaxZ86) this year as well as the DeVos brothers' Windquest the third MaxZ86 competing in Division I. I am sitting at the nav station aboard Enchilado, Cesar De Saracho's brand-spanking-new Jeanneau 54 cutter. This is one of three Mexican entries and is racing in Division Aloha A. With its red hull and red and white spinnaker with a mean red-hot bull ready to attack the wind that approaches, it's a very sweet ride for me. The 67-year-old De Saracho decided a week before entry deadlines to compete in this Centennial Transpac and was able to complete all the "Category 1 Offshore" and Transpac requirements just in time to qualify. Accompanying him aboard are his wife of 42 years, Maria Teresa, two sons Cesar Jr. and Ricardo, and daughter Ana Lucia. This will be Enchilado's maiden voyage and is a family affair. I was biting at the bit when my friend Cesar called me in Mazatlan, Mexico to invite me to join his family crew for Enchilado's first oceanic race. We are currently berthed at the Rainbow Harbor Transpac Village in Long Beach. Enchilado is uneasily tugging at her dock lines, anxious to demonstrate just what she was designed to do, go offshore. With my offshore racing resume limited to the 600-mile International Galapagos Cup and the 630-mile Galveston to Veracruz Mexico race; I'm already starting to bond with Enchilado with our pending common-ground 2,225 mile anticipation. Walking the docks, one perceives the positive anxiety radiating from crewmembers as they make their concentrated efforts to tie up all the loose ends associated with the hours prior to any offshore race. We'll have our third pow-wow session in the next couple of minutes to refine our course strategy, to make the shortest distance while skirting the southern boundary of the stationary Pacific High parked offshore to the northwest. You sense that's the important strategic question predominant on everyone's mind today. How far south to go before the added southerly distance works to your disadvantage? That question just seems to hang there in your mind as I finish mentally preparing for the coming days. Enchilado - Out