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One year to go to Transpac 50

by Transpacific Yacht Club 14 Jul 2018 13:47 BST 10 July 2019
Crossing the finish line at Diamond Head in 2015, the SC 52 Paranoia will sail again as Blond Fury in 2019 © Sharon Green / ULTIMATE SAILING

Exactly one year from this week, dozens of entries will start Transpac 50, the 50th edition of the Los Angeles-Honolulu ocean racing classic. Already there are 24 entries, the strongest early turnout in the 113-year history of the race.

"We knew the 50th would be popular, and we are preparing many special features to commemorate this race," said Transpacific Yacht Club Commodore Tom Hogan, "but we had no idea the interest would be so strong so fast. Not only are there many return entries who still find this race attractive, but also newcomers who want to test themselves and their crews on a long 2,225 mile race to paradise."

Among the newcomers is Heather Furey of Coronado, California, entered along with her husband Chuck Furey with their Santa Cruz 52, Blond Fury.

"We acted quickly. I think we were number 4 on the entry list," said Heather. "There has been so much talk about this race I wanted to make sure it did not sell out!"

While this is Heather's first Transpac, Chuck is a veteran of several past races, mainly in the '80's and '90's during the competitive heyday of the ULDB Sleds. Heather said she's wanted to do this race for a long time, and now finally has the time to pursue her dream. The Fureys explored the option of chartering a boat, but in the end purchased Rick von Heydenreich's Paranoia, a Santa Cruz 52 that finished mid-fleet among nine entries in the Fabulous Fifties class in the 2015 race and is a design that fulfills their interests in both speed and comfort.

"Chuck is interested in comfort and I like to go fast," Heather admits.

Like many others in Transpac 50, these two are building their crew around a theme of "Friends and Family." Heather says they plan to have a crew of ten, many of them pals from Coronado YC, with a core experienced group of five encouraged to bring along a spouse or an adult child. This core group, including Chuck, used to race together on Kathmandu, Fred Kirschner's Santa Cruz 70 Hull No. 2. The Buddah's eyes graphic on Kathmandu was an iconic symbol of the Sled class era. "We all knew Fred well, so we may adopt this symbol for our team too," Heather said.

She continues "At this point we're still working on our roster, but we think this Friends and Family approach will be a nice way to be competitive while having a great time and sharing the opportunity with a few people who may not otherwise have the chance."

Blond Fury has recently been refitted with new standing rigging, and the Fureys' priority now is to get to know the systems on their boat, and do some local club racing. Transpac race rules specify that crews must sail together as a group in a race or other passage of at least 150 miles, so Heather says they may do the 2019 race to Cabo San Lucas, or "just take the boat to Santa Barbara and sail down the coast."

Blond Fury and all other monohulls in the fleet will be eligible for the King Kalakaua Trophy, a beautiful silver and koa wood award named after the Hawaiian monarch who in 1886 first proposed this race to build fellowship between his islands and the US mainland. This trophy is one of dozens the Transpacific YC has in an impressive collection of museum-quality trophies dating to the first race in 1906. The names engraved on those trophies represent a who's who of ocean racing history.

While rumors circulate about who among these legends will return to the race next year, there is one that is confirmed on the entry list now: the Sparkman & Stephens-designed 73-foot yawl Kialoa II, built and raced by Los Angeles-based developer and avid ocean racer Jim Kilroy as a sloop in 1963. She raced in the 1967 Transpac and after being converted to a yawl in 1968, she raced Transpac again in 1971. Kialoa II is now owned by Sydney-based Aussie Patrick Broughton, who sailed her last December in the 2017 Sydney-Hobart Race and is one of numerous entries that over the decades have come up from Down Under to compete in Transpac.

"My brother Keith and I were looking for a classic ocean racer of some provenance," said Broughton. "We had no idea we would end up with a boat of such heritage as K II. We got a good deal with the previous owner who was supportive of our efforts to sail and race her in her original trim rather than make radical alterations."

Broughton says his crew will have raced with each other on and off for decades, with over 200 Hobart races between them but only one Transpac. "We don't have any sailmakers and America's Cup trimmers, but still our objective is to be competitive and to have fun. Our program with this boat will be to do the anniversary editions of the classic ocean races: the 75th Hobart, the 50th Transpac and the 50th Fastnet, in addition to the Newport-Bermuda. This boat has done these before with Jim, and we're carrying on the tradition."

Whether it be a sloop, yawl or schooner, a monohull or multihull, a flat-out ocean racer, a comfortable cruiser or something in between, the Transpacific YC welcomes entries from around the world to join us in this 50th edition of an ocean race classic.


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