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Transpac 2013 vessels navigated around Japan tsunami debris

By Jill Kuramoto
Published On: Jul 19 2013 02:06:56 PM HST
Updated On: Jul 19 2013 09:38:35 PM HST

One of the oldest ocean races in the world began welcoming the first finishers to Hawaii waters today. The 47th crossing of the Transpacific Yacht Race pits 57 skippers in a seafaring challenge from Los Angeles to Honolulu. But as KITV4's Jill Kuramoto reports, this year's race is proving to be one of the most dangerous, and not because of the ocean conditions, but ocean debris.

HONOLULU -

One of the oldest ocean races in the world began welcoming the first finishers to Hawaii waters Friday morning.

The 47th crossing of the Transpacific Yacht Race pitted 57 skippers in a seafaring challenge from Los Angeles to Honolulu.

But, this year's race is proving to be one of the most dangerous not because of the ocean conditions, but ocean debris.

Eleven days. Two-thousand two-hundred and twenty-five nautical miles. One winner.

The first to finish at Diamond Head: the Manatea.

"When we crossed the line today, I was overwhelmed that we actually were doing it and coming in first and also at the same time, kind of sad it was over," said captain of the Manatea, Bob Hayward.

Held every odd-numbered year, Transpac holds itself apart from other major ocean races for being known as a "downwind" race.  In other words, fast and dangerous.
But this year, Japan tsunami debris is posing a serious hazard for sailors.

“You heard a thud, then another thud,” said Hayward describing the scene out on the water about 4 days into the race. “I wouldn’t say it was a telephone pole, but it was certainly at least a very big fence post that we hit and it came out at the back of the boat.”

“We definitely warned sailors before. Also we’re working with NOAA to track all debris. All debris is reported and forwarded on to what was sighted and exact location. I think there’s a lot more out there than people realize,” said Carl Geringer, Co-chair of the Honolulu Transpac.

Transpac has a rich history. The idea was conceived by King David Kalakaua in 1886 as a way to strengthen Hawaii’s economy and ties with the mainland. The first crossing didn’t happen until 1906. But the King’s goal remains true today.

“The rooms in all the hotels are booked. You have 57 boats with all their crew, all their family and friends from 7 countries. So it definitely improves the economy here,” said Kathy Linker, co-chair for boat hosting for Transpac 2013.

Four Hawaii-based boats are among the diverse group of sailors raising their sails in the race across the Pacific.  And even if there were no first place winners this year, the paradise finish was still a worthy prize.

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