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Diamond Head and the Waikiki coastline are a welcome sight to sailors who are now approaching the Hawaii finish line of the Transpacific Yacht Race. The biennial race brings boats of many sizes and sailors of many ages across 2,225 miles of open ocean.
Local Oahu yacht clubs host each of the boats so that they arrive to a big party. The captain of the boat that our group hosts has posted regular updates on their trip. Most end with a comment about how much the crew is looking forward to the shore party. “We are all planning to party at record pace when we hit the dock so warn our sponsors to bring lots of rum and ear plugs.”
Some of his posts demonstrate the joys and sorrows of the open ocean. “Last night just before sunset we were surrounded by pod of pilot whales, about 20 of them… Lots of flying fish and passed a little bit of debris today… We have also hit a lot of debris. We have had to back down twice. We have passed a lot of trash as well.”
It is sad to learn that trash and debris are sighted almost as frequently as fish on an ocean crossing. Because the yachts are so close to the water, the crews are able to get a first-hand look at what is floating there, and some times they get caught up in it. “ [We] thought we passed a cow last night. It was some large piece of debris about the size of a volkswagon. We came close to hitting it but thank god we missed.”
The boats began the race on July 4 and July 8 and the fastest finishers may reach the island tomorrow. Others will arrive over the next few days. They will line the dock at the Ala Wai, so if you are on Oahu it is a rare opportunity to see very fancy boats. One was built just for this race for media personality Dr. Laura. The boats also receive a lei when they arrive, but the Mai Tais go only to the sailors. “We are looking forward to the arrival party, it keeps us sailing fast!”