For many sailors on the West Coast the bi-annual TransPac is on their bucket list, who wouldn't want to race from LA to Hawaii - typically a 2,200NM downwind fast ride to the islands. 2019 was the 50th edition of the historic race and the entry list came in from far and wide and almost topped 100 boats. It's a prestigious event and many boat names you would recognize from the sailing press headlines around the world - Comanche, Maserati, Paradox.
For several years I worked as an Event Manager on the ARC sailing rallies and while there was often a racing division or a competitive element they were certainly a rally and not a race. The TransPac is 100% a race, these crews are pushing hard 24/7 to reach the finish line off Diamond Head, Oahu as fast as possible. So when the opportunity came up to volunteer at the finish line I jumped at the chance and soon found myself standing a few watches in the lighthouse at Diamond Head finishing boats across the line.
Yachts in the race would radio us "Diamond Head Finish Line" when 5NM out with their ETA and as they approached the finish there were helicopters or drones and boats with friends & family all out to watch them complete their ocean passage. In the lighthouse finish times were taken when the boats crossed the sight line and were emailed to Race HQ. Each boat had a 'Follow Me' boat to escort them the final few miles to the marina where cold drinks awaited.
Diamond Head Lighthouse Great view at the finish line
We were pleased to welcome in Charles Devanneaux of NAOS yachts on his Beneteau Figaro 3 as they had been ocean testing a SunPower E-Flex 110W solar panel aboard. Beneteau has made the first production foiling monohull which at 35ft is FAST! Charlie and Fred were the first double handed crew to arrive, were wet and tired and spoke about boat speeds of 19 and 20 knots! In the photo below you can just make out the SunPower flexible panel that they used to power their equipment on the way across. They ran their engine for charging batteries for only a few hours and relied entirely on the SunPower 110W panel for the rest. Needless to say it was tested pretty hard on the 2200NM+ sailing at high speeds and covered in salt spray. The junction box on the panel is IP67 rated which means it is protected from immersion in water 15 cm to 1 meter deep up to 30 minutes.
SunPower E-Flex panels: lightweight, flexible & powerful