View Full Version : Behind the Curtain: The Organization of the Singlehanded Transpacific Yacht Race

02-28-2020, 10:25 PM
I'm always impressed by how extensive is the preparation for this race. So much time and energy is expended making sure it happens. Traditions are respected and built upon, people come and go. Maybe this is a good time to start to describe the effort so that, in the future, other people might consider stepping in to help. Because it's an awful lot of fun.

What is happening with the 2020 Singlehanded Transpacific Yacht Race site? Well, lots! When you click on it via the SSS Main site, be sure to refresh it. Then you will see that it has been updated. Since updates are happening over time, be patient. This will be the site throughout the preparation for the race, during the race and through the finish in Hanalei Bay. You can also access the WordPress race sites from 2016 and 2018. Cool, huh?

To whom shall we thank for these bountiful gifts? David Nabors, participant in the 2016 SHTP, and our Web Czar until he retired to work at some high end physics lab. Yeah, we've got some skill sets in the SSS. David will be at the start, so you can thank him when you see him there.

Christine Weaver s/v Stink Eye, figured out how to get into the backroom of the Word Press site from 2018 and started tinkering with the code. How she do dat? I have no idea, but there she was, happily typing away in front of her big monitor.
“Okay”, she said, “I know how to do this.”

Christine and Jonathan Gutoff will be in Hanalei Bay again to photograph, interview and videotape everybody. They’ve been covering the race since 2008.

Have you noticed the new copy on the site? Well, you can thank Greg Ashby (third place overall in the SHTP 2018) for that. Greg will also be in Hanalei Bay, doing the endless number of things that need doing. Babying the Sea Squirrel, collecting sleep deprived sailors from their boats as they arrive 24/7, posting on the SHTP site. Greg has agreed to organize the Awards Ceremony at Nawiliwili Yacht Club, and to make sure the trophies are there to distribute. There are a million things to be done to make this race work.

03-06-2020, 01:16 PM
THANK YOU to all who have ramped up the 2020 SHTP website. Thank you very much....

03-06-2020, 04:27 PM
THANK YOU to all who have ramped up the 2020 SHTP website. Thank you very much....

Race participants (and anyone really) are encouraged to submit their own writeups, status updates, etc. and send to Jacky or Brian for inclusion on the new 2020 site.

03-18-2020, 06:57 PM
Amid all this Covid-19 talk, a friend who is considering the 2020 Singlehanded Transpacific Race asked about the chance of it being cancelled. My response:

Of this I am confident: Regardless of access to the Corinthian Race deck or to their harbor, the Singlehanded Sailing Society will host the 2020 SHTP. If we have to start it off one of our own sailboats, we will. And then? Someone will be waiting in Hanalei Bay for our racers to arrive. If United doesn't cancel my reservation I will be there on July 8, so don't arrive before then, okay? Larry Conklin will be there with a Sea Squirrel, if not the Sea Squirrel. He has promised us a brand new RIB with 90 hp.

If his airline reservation is cancelled I feel pretty sure that Brian Boschma will simply sail Red Sky over, as will others. Bob Johnston s/v Surprise! hasn't ordered an emergency rudder just for the SF Bay. The race to Kauai is a walk in the park for Jim Quanci s/v Green Buffalo. Repairs to David Herrigel's Hedgehog start tomorrow.

Cliff Shaw s/v Rainbow and Rob MacFarlane s/v Tiger Beetle have already considered going to Hanalei Bay in time to greet the racers if they themselves are denied access to the Tahitian Islands. Patti and Bill Meanley s/v Dolfin might just sail over again instead of taking an airline.

Americans are resilient. Singlehanders even more so. I don't think there is a snowball's chance in hell that the 2020 SHTP will be cancelled. Remember, we don't need no stinkin badges.

03-18-2020, 10:59 PM
Here's the situation on Kauai:
"Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami issued an islandwide nighttime curfew beginning Friday, March 20. The curfew will be in effect from 9 p.m. through 5 a.m. daily until further notice. Every individual within the County of Kauai must remain in their residence during these specified hours."

Hawaii is allowing commercial ships, but not allowing crew to leave their ships. Passenger on cruise ships who have not visited China, etc. are allowed "at this time." But there are no cruise ships sailing. I wonder if someone arriving by sea might be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine? I know, I know, it took 3 weeks to get there, but health authorities are health authorities. Hawaii and Alaska are the two states capable of closing their borders if the pandemic grows the way some medical folks think it might. I know it's never happened, but this pandemic has never happened.

I also wonder about a singlehanded who unknowingly contracts the disease and a week or so later finds himself very ill on a small boat in the middle of the ocean? An SOS would bring a cargo ship, but since ships are not equipped with much medically speaking, a rescue wouldn't necesssarily provide the care needed -- and expose the ship's crew to the virus. Is that a fair situation? I suppose a virus test prior to leaving might work, but after the test is administered the sailor would have to isolate himself until the test results are in and then continue without contact with anyone until arriving in Kauai.

A well-known early SSS TransPac sailor refused to carry an EPIRB (before it was mandated) because he did not want to put potential rescuers at peril.

03-18-2020, 11:25 PM
Received this afternoon from the YRA (sentence construction and grammar as written!)

From the USCG, as of 3/18/20:

"The situation with COVID-19 had been developing and rapidly developing. Cities, Counties, and States within our USCG Sector San Francisco are developing Health Orders, to address the situation in the safest most appropriate way for their area. In order to ensure the most consistent/safe response we intend to permit our events in a manner that reflects local Health Orders. If you have questions on whether the nature of your event complies with Social Distancing, Shelter in Place, or other Health Orders. Please consult your local, or state Department of Health.

Every Marine Event permit issued contains the following language, if an event fails to meet any Federal/State/Local laws, the permit becomes void.

'Marine event sponsors are responsible for the safety of their events. This permit does not exempt the event sponsor or participants from any Federal, state, or local laws or regulations, including county no-wake zones. You may be required to obtain additional permits required by applicable Federal, state, and local municipalities. This permit does not grant permission to use any private property that may be impacted by your event without the consent of its owner. In addition please note that this permit does not allow closure of any navigable waterway or placement of unapproved buoys associated with your event.'

We are currently reviewing our permitted Marine Events against measure being put in place for COVID-19. Each potential Marine Event that plans on moving forward will be evaluated on a case by case basis. Some of the criteria we are looking at, are does the event comply with Health Orders? How would alterations to plans effect the proposed event? Is the event going to be held with equivalent safety to the originally planned event.

1- Written confirmation/approval from your counties' Public Health Department.

2- An explanation of how Social Distancing will be achieved during your event.

3. How many participants in the event are over the age of 65.

4. Are any of the participants of the events residents of counties with "Shelter in Place" orders.

5. Please describe any proposed changes to the event from the original application.

6. If changes are made to the event on account of Health Orders, please explain how the event will meet equivalent safety measures to the originally permitted event."

For the 2020 SHTP, the SSS will need to pull Marine Event permits from both the 11th and 14th districts.

tiger beetle
03-19-2020, 08:14 AM
It is too early to make the call to hold the race or cancel the event, all you can do is plan for both: minimize sunk costs should the race not be able to happen, continue preparations such that if the race is on everything is ready to go. I would also explore alternatives such as "could the race be held in 2021" (perhaps the answer is 'no'). The race is all about one person on a boat but there are usually more people involved in helping each skipper put their boat on the start line (friends & family, at a minimum). Some of those people will want to be at the finish line in Hanalei, and the count of those people becomes part of the equation.

I read the Pacific Cup "shelter in place" announcement and essentially they are moving forward with race preparation as best they can while allowing that the event could be called off. Their intention is to make a more definitive decision mid-April.


I have put my South Pacific summer cruising plans on hold for the year as travel restrictions and border closures through the South Pacific make it not possible to visit the places I want to. As of this morning French Polynesia, New Zealand, and Australia have all closed their borders to non-residents.

It would not surprise me if Hawaii enacted a border closure to non-resident / non-essential travel, and/or barred inter-island movement of people; this is what the island nations are doing in the South Pacific.

- rob/beetle

tiger beetle
03-19-2020, 06:41 PM
As a data point, the World ARC Rally has been suspended, with boats being laid up in French Polynesia and the crews flown home. The Rally organizers are looking towards "late summer" to see how their planned routes and itineraries might shape up.

World ARC Rally notice of suspension:

With French Polynesia closing its borders, I expect the Tahiti Cup 2020 will not run in late May.

Hawaii has set up a web site specific to COVID-19 information. Keep an eye on the Hawaii information to help inform decisions about the race going forward:


- rob/beetle

03-22-2020, 06:20 AM
Hawaii governor mandates 14-day quarantine for all incoming travelers to state: https://www.khon2.com/coronavirus-2/11-new-covid-19-cases-reported-state-total-rises-to-48/

If the race is still held you can sail the race, just be prepared to sit in the Bay for 14 days or turn around and sail back without landing. Bring your Q flag.

03-22-2020, 12:58 PM
Hawaii governor mandates 14-day quarantine for all incoming travelers to state: https://www.khon2.com/coronavirus-2/11-new-covid-19-cases-reported-state-total-rises-to-48/ If the race is still held you can sail the race, just be prepared to sit in the Bay for 14 days or turn around and sail back without landing. Bring your Q flag.

Well, enough dithering. Let's ask, shall we? I've sent this by email and USPS.

The Honorable David Y. Ige
Governor, State of Hawaii
Executive Chambers
State Capitol
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813

Dear Governor Ige,

I write as a member of the race committee Singlehanded Sailing Society of the San Francisco Bay. Since 1978 we have sponsored a biennial sailboat race for singlehanded sailors from San Francisco to Hanalei Bay. Singlehanded means only one person on the boat, not sailors using only one hand. Sailors are mostly self-funded and the average sailboat is 30’. The race finish times are not to exceed 21 days, and the average time has been two weeks. I can be more specific if needed.

That said, sailors typically take one to two years to prepare themselves and their boats for the race. In the past race committee members have rented small motorboats to collect our sailors from their anchored boats because, as you know, there are no slips in Hanalei Bay. If necessary, our sailors are resourceful and can anchor themselves. However, committee members would, of course, arrive by plane to Lihue airport, which is not the reason for my email.

My question is this: Does your recent directive for a 14 day quarantine extend to our sailors if we are able to advise you of their start date here in San Francisco, or will their time at sea between here and Hanalei Bay count toward the quarantine named in your directive?

If our racers are required to self-quarantine for an additional fourteen days after sailing 14-21 days from here to the beautiful Hanalei Bay, it will almost certainly dissuade them from participating in the 2020 Singlehanded Transpacific Yacht Race. It would also be the first time in more than forty years that the SSS fails to arrive in our most beloved of all place, Hanalei Bay.

Please find attached a poster for our signature race.

Thank you for considering my enquiries on behalf of our sailing club. Any attention to and clarification of this issue will be greatly appreciated.

Jacqueline Philpott

Race Committee
Singlehanded Sailing Society

03-22-2020, 01:18 PM
Well, enough dithering. Let's ask, shall we? I've sent this by email and USPS.

Are you suggesting racers race there, no committee..take their own times...sail back?

03-22-2020, 02:26 PM
Hanalei 1-2!

03-22-2020, 04:36 PM
Hanalei 1-2!


03-22-2020, 05:33 PM
Are you suggesting racers race there, no committee..take their own times...sail back?

My experience with bureaucracies is that they don't respond to suggestions, but people are paid to respond to simple questions. I didn't suggest anything, just enquired. I'm sure they have many more important things to consider, and I'll bet solo sailors aren't in that equation. yet

tiger beetle
03-22-2020, 09:51 PM
Hi Jackie -

I was under the impression that outward facing communication from the SSS to another organization is through the SSS Commodore. Shouldn't your letter have been from Don Martin as SSS Commodore, likely with input from Brian Boschma as SSS TransPac Chair?

- rob/beetle

03-22-2020, 11:47 PM
Rob, I agree. Official SSS business should involve the Board and the Commodore, and in this case the Race Chair. I hope no one takes it alone to ask the Coast Guard about permits! Leave official business so the officials.

Pat Broderick, former SSS Commodore

03-30-2020, 07:58 AM
Out the gate, Kauai to port, finish under the gate.

03-30-2020, 10:33 AM
Out the gate, Kauai to port, finish under the gate.

Sparrow is in.

03-30-2020, 11:42 AM
Jim, Would you use Ni'ihau as an offset mark to avoid traffic jams at the turning mark?