Jason Carroll’s 70-footer, ARGO, hailing from New York’s Larchmont YC, is anticipated to be the first to finish in the TransPac around 6:45 p.m. Pacific time tonight under a near perfect full moon.
In 2017, according to the Transpac website, Mighty Merloe set the multihull elapsed time record at 4 days 06:32:30.
We have some great history right here in Long Beach. In 1964, the Outrigger Canoe Club began co-hosting the first Multihull Transpacific Yacht Race with the Ocean Racing Catamaran Association. The race began on July 4 of even-numbered years, in contrast to the Transpacific Monohull Yacht Race which was in odd-numbered years.
The late Dr. A. Victor “Vic” Stern owned 43-foot catamaran Imi Loa, which was berthed in Alamitos Bay Marina, the first slip on the port side of gangway 5. It won the first multi-hull TransPac race in 1964 and logged more than 35,000 nautical miles. Stern was past commodore of the Seal Beach Yacht Club and founding member and first president of the Ocean Racing Catamaran Association (ORCA).
His daughters Henrietta and Abbe shared some memories:
I remember in 1964 when only 3 catamarans headed off to Honolulu for the first multi-hull TransPac. Dad had meticulously packed three meals per day for two weeks (plus beer and snacks), and Imi Loa was pretty heavily laden as they set out from Alamitos Bay to the starting line with a 3-horsepower dingy engine as the sole source of power.
There must have been some heavy winds the first few days because the other two cats dropped out. Imi Loa was heavier and sturdy, and pointed very well in rough seas, so she was fine. However, Imi Loa's radio was damaged so Vic could not call in for the required evening status report.
The next day, the local paper had a headline, "Catamaran with 7 Aboard Missing At Sea," which of course created all sorts of drama for us back in Naples. But I recall Mom was not too worried, and said, "I bet his radio conked out." And she was right.
Dad always loved to tell the story about a United Airlines flight to Hawaii trying to make contact with Imi Loa. Jack Swartz, owner of Imua, was a United captain and must have asked a buddy to try to reach Imi Loa on a flight over. Over the radio, the airline captain intoned, "Catamaran, Catamaran, this is United Airlines Flight 123, radio frequency XYZ, do you read me?"
Dad was irritated that the captain did not use Imi Loa's official radio identifier, so he answered in a mocking tone, "Airplane, Airplane, this is Imi Loa, Whiskey November 3867, and yes we are fine." Or something along those lines. Thus, we learned he was safe after all.
Mom, Abbe and I flew over to greet Imi Loa, and I still love the magnificent color photos of Imi Loa crossing the finish line at the Diamond Head buoy under full spinnaker, with the crew in matching red and white outfits (white pants and red/white Hawaiian flower motif shirts). I think I still remember the official time etched in my brain: 10 days, 9 hours, 57 minutes and 15 seconds. Crew members Alfred Kumala'e and Rudy Choy had family in Honolulu, and we picked a jillion plumeria flowers to make leis to festoon the crew and drape garlands on Imi Loa. It was a great celebration with the Mai Tais flowing!
The Outrigger Canoe Club was the official host, and we enjoyed hanging out there immensely with a guest membership. We ended up living on Imi Loa at the Ala Wai Yacht harbor for several weeks and have vivid memories of that first summer in Hawaii, including a terrifying trip to Molokai and Maui in huge seas and a raging headwind in the Molokai Channel, and later hitting a reef off of Molokai.
Vic Stern did another four TransPacs after that (1966, 1968, 1970 and 1972) and the fleet grew each year.