WIZARD - Volvo Open 70

Peter Askew, Baltimore, MD
New York YC
Built 2011 as Groupama 4, Juan Kouyoumdjian design

The entry of WIZARD brings another first-to-finish contender to the race, with a proven boat (winner of the 2011-2012 Volvo Ocean Race as Franck Cammas’s Groupama 4), proven team (winners of the 2019 Transatlantic and Rolex Fastnet Races), and determined drive to set a new monohull course record.

Peter Askew and his brother David have been long-term racers, both offshore and inshore, on a wide variety of boat types over the years. Their last Pacific race was winning the first-to-finish Barn Door Trophy in the 2015 LA-Honolulu Transpac on their last WIZARD, a Reichel/Pugh 74.

“I like ocean racing, and the 600-mile races [eg, Fastnet, Newport-Bermuda, Middle Sea Race, Caribbean 600, etc] are great, but a race like the Transpac Tahiti is a lifetime opportunity to stretch out on a true oceanic race,” said Askew. “As an amateur, there are few opportunities where I can race across the equator like the pros do on the Volvo Ocean race, Transat Jacques Vabre or others.

“And to have a rival like Pyewacket will be great to push us both in a match race towards the monohull race record.”

PYEWACKET - Volvo Open 70

Roy Disney, San Diego, CA
San Diego YC
Ex-Blackjack, ex-Telefonica

A press time, the PYEWACKET team was still making arrangements to ship their latest race boat of this name – the Volvo Open 70 Blackjack, ex-Telefonica – to its new home in California from Australia. Team manager Robbie Haines says the team is excited about the race and this project, one with a clear intent to challenge the course record. According to owner Roy Disney, the race to Tahiti is one that complements the team’s strong record of having raced 23 Honolulu Transpacs, 7 Pacific Cups, and one Victoria-Maui race, and twice breaking the Transpac record in 1997 and 1999.

He said about the reason to do this race: “The obvious answer is…Tahiti. And a chance to break that record, a chance to cross the Equator for the first time. Its also where I spent my second honeymoon.”

In preparation for the race, PYEWACKET plans to do local and west coast long distance races like Puerto Vallarta, Ensenada, the So Cal 300, etc.

VIVA MEXICO! – Volvo Ocean 65

Erik Brockmann, Mexico City, Mexico
Acapulco YC
Designed by Farr Yacht Design, built 2013 by VOR consortium

Viva Mexico! is a VO 65 built for Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing when it was the overall winner in the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race, and then rebranded for Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race. The team just acquired the boat in Portugal in October 2019.

The inspiration to enter this race is part of Brockmann and his co-owners Loernzo Berho, and Yon Belausteguigoitia’s vision to campaign for their entry in the next Ocean Race event being held in 2021-22 on the theme of Mexican excellence in ocean racing. The 1973-74 Whitbread Round the World Race, the first edition of the crewed offshore classic, started off from Portsmouth, England on September 8, 1973. With 17 yachts of various sizes and rigs competing, the crew of the Mexico-based Swan 65 Sayula II owned and skippered by Mexican captain Ramón Carlin, won the overall race in 133 days and 13 hours.

“The next edition of The Ocean Race will mark the 50-year anniversary and is in big part why we believe is the right time for Mexico to be back in the race for the second time in its history,” said Brockmann. Racing on TP 52’s in a few LA-Honolulu Transpacs, other races to Mexico and recently in the Extreme Sailing Series has given this team confidence and experience to compete on the world stage.

“It made us realize that we can put our country into these kinds of competitions. The Ocean Race is a big step up from that, but definitely part of the continuity of that project that began two years ago.”

The team will sail in February in the 1000-mile San Diego YC’s San Diego – Puerto Vallarta race and hope to defend their title earned in this race in 2018. They will also do a promotional sail alongside Sayula II to show the evolution of yacht design over the past 50 years on boats of the same length.

CABRON - Botin 80

Steve Meheen, Houston, TX
San Diego YC
Built at Cookson, launched 2013

CABRON is a Botin 80 (ex-BEAU GESTE) built at Cookson and launched in 2013. She captured line honors in the 2014 Auckland to Fiji Race later went on to win the Groupama Race in 2016.
Under Steve Maheen’s more recent ownership, CABRON has been hunting for monohull course records in various Southern California to Mexico races, and has them already for the Newport-Ensenada and San Diego-Ensenada races. The next target before setting off to Tahiti is the race to Puerto Vallarta.
With her light weight, high stability and generous sail area, Maheen and his Misfits Racing Team will be a serious contender to seek a new course record to Tahiti as well, currently held by MAGNITUDE 80 and set in 2008 at 11 days 10 hours 13 minutes 18 seconds.

ZEPHYRUS - Reichel / Pugh 77

Damon Guizot, San Marino, CA
Los Angeles YC
Built Jim Betts, launched 2002

Designed and built for fast offshore passages and extremely active around the world under her first two owners, ZEPHYRUS’s third owner Damon Guizot is just as passionate about offshore racing, being an active participant in most long races in Southern California. She has never yet raced to Tahiti, so this will be a suitable addition to a long pedigree of racing heritage.

CHIM CHIM - Gunboat 62

John Gallagher, Del Mar, CA
Mission Bay YC
Built 2003 in South Africa, Morrelli and Melvin design

John Gallagher’s Chim Chim has been incredibly active in the last five years: not only has she raced in the 2015 and 2017 Transpac races to Honolulu at 2225 miles each, but also raced over 1000 miles in the 2018 San Diego-Puerto Vallarta Race and a few editions of California Race Week as well.

In their Caribbean campaign last year, John and wife Carol last year raced the Pineapple Cup (Miami to Montego Bay, Jamaica) in January, followed by the Caribbean 600 in February – here they won their class in a challenging 600-mile island tour that starts and ends in Antigua. In March they joined several other big cats in the fun but intense day racing of the BVI Spring Regatta, followed by the same at Les Voiles des St Barth in April.

“We’ve been fortunate to have a pretty consistent crew over the past few years,” John said. “It was during the 2017 Transpac we were talking about the Tahiti race and decided we would like to do if it became an option.”

For crew John is planning on bringing 9 members of their core team, which is composed mostly of amateur sailors.

“It was hard for some to get the time off, but I think everyone is now set. It’s a great group, we’re all really looking forward to this!”

SWIFTSURE II - Schumacher 54

Bill Barry-Cotter – Coomera, Qld, AUS
Cruising Yacht Club of Australia
Built 1996 at Westerly Marine, Newport Beach USA

Swiftsure II is a Carl Schumacher 54 that established itself as a multiple race winner, mainly in the San Francisco area, under a variety of rating rules since its 1996 launch at Westerly Marine launch right up until the passing of its Owner/Skipper Sy Klienman in late 2017.

After a lengthy favorable design review published in Sailing magazine in December, 1996, noted naval architect Bob Perry said “I think Carl Schumacher is on the right track when he gives the owner a good boat that is versatile enough to compete in a wide range of race styles and conditions. Swiftsure II is a good boat.”

Iconic Australian boat builder Bill Barry-Cotter, who established the Riviera and more recently Maritimo brands, has just assumed custodianship of Swiftsure II. He has assembled a strong team, the core of which campaigned the classic yacht Katwinchar to win the Grand Veterans Division in the recent 75th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

Racing with Barry-Cotter and project manager Michael Spies – a 43-time Sydney-Hobart Race veteran and previous race record holder – are noted yacht designer Scott Kaufman, former Alfa Romeo sailing master Murray Spence, and prominent sailmaker Kendal Barry-Cotter. Added to the mix are a couple of young of up and coming Australian offshore sailors.

After the Tahiti the finish Swiftsure II will sail to Australia then enjoy a major refit at Maritimo before its appearance in the 76th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

Owner Barry-Cotter is also a powerboat enthusiast, with his Maritimo recently winning a World Offshore Power Boat World Championship, and will be hoping that success follows him into his sailing endeavors as well.

GRACE O’MALLEY - Cookson 50

Zoe Taylor and Chris Way, Jersey, UK
Built 2004 Cookson Boats, designed by Farr Yacht Design

ANGELIQUE – Columbia 57

Andy KURTZ – Sebastopol, CA, US

Andy Kurtz’s Columbia 57 Angelique has an interesting history: the 1969 design from Bill Tripp, Jr was sold as a kit to a boatyard in the Pacific Northwest. After assembly and launching, the first owner sailed her once, ran aground, and never sailed her again. Since then she has had two other owners since Kurtz found her in Ft Lauderdale 13 years ago, from where he sailed the Caribbean, the Panama Canal, Mexico, and then to Hawaii where he ran her for charters for a year before coming to her current home in the San Francisco Bay area.

“After arriving here I discovered that the fore-deck was a termite nest and so proceeded to completely reconstruct the boat,” said Kurtz, “with a new deck, bulkheads, tanks, engine, and electrics. The project isn’t really completely finished yet, but it’s about 95% complete at this point.”

Since age eight Kurtz has been sailing both for fun and for a living, with some 30 ocean crossings in his resume. Boom damage to Angelique in the Pacific Cup in 2018 kept them out of contention in that race, and some collision damage forced him to dropped out of the Honolulu Transpac 50 this year, so Kurtz will do the Transpac Tahiti race in 2020 in his quest to do this race all the other great Pacific ocean races as well, including those mentioned along with the Victoria-Maui Race too.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about doing the Hobart race,” said Kurtz. “And I will be close after cruising to New Zealand once the Tahiti race is finished…hmmm.”