A Small, but Quality, Field to Set Sail Today in Race to Honolulu

Special to The Times

Fifty sailboats will answer the starting signal today at 1 p.m. for the 35th biennial Transpacific race from Los Angeles to Honolulu.

The entry list is the smallest in several years for the 2,225-mile voyage, but the quality of the entries could make it one of the fastest.

Class A is composed entirely of 20 Ultra-Light Displacement 70-raters, any one of which could erase the elapsed-time record of 8 days 11 hours set by the 67-foot sloop Merlin in 1983. Merlin, from the design board of Bill Lee of Santa Cruz, will be in the race.


The 70-raters, ranging in size from 66 to 70 feet, are known as downwind sleds because of their ability to surf down the huge seas generated by the strong northeast trade winds.

Class B is composed largely of Santa Cruz-50s, also designed by Lee and capable of winning handicap honors.

The race will start off Pt. Fermin, west of the Los Angeles Harbor entrance, and finish off Diamond Head on the island of Oahu. The fleet is required to round the west end of Catalina Island before heading to sea.