Papeete, Tahiti — After having attracted a near-record turnout for the 2020 edition of the Transpacific YC’s Transpac Tahiti Race, organizers had to finally succomb to pandemic restrictions and postpone this year’s race to the future. The dream of sailing to the South Seas on a 3570-mile journey from Los Angeles to Papeete would have to wait until the next planned running in 2022.
However, the dream of this journey is not completely lost for this year, thanks to the infectious enthusiasm of Stephanie Betz and her team at Archipelagoes, the Tahiti-based co-organizers of the race. They have partnered with Virtual Regatta to offer a simulated online version of the race to challenge all sailors, whether curious newcomers or salty veterans who both have for now to sit out any long range voyaging due to the worldwide restrictions on travel.
Using polar performance data from Comanche, the 100-foot current first-to-finish Barn Door Trophy champion in the 2225-mile LA-Honolulu Transpac race, Virtual Regatta (VR) is accepting entries on May 23, 2020 to register at www.virtualregatta.com/en/offshore-game to try their skills to race the longer course to Tahiti. The online race will start on the original race start date of May 28, 2020, and will feature the same real-time weather conditions found on the actual race course, with some additional options valuable to players to increase the performance of their entry during the race.
‘We chose to use a fast boat like Comanche,” said Betz, “because the course record of 11 days 10 hours and 13 minutes is rather old and with the right weather could be beaten by a modern fast boat of this type. This is an exciting alternative to the real race that we can offer our sailors and race fans at this time to get them motivated to try and beat this course record virtually, but also to come to Tahiti when its safe and experience our beautiful islands in person.”
And while only several dozen lucky sailors could have personally experienced the long trip to Tahiti, the VR version can attract many 1000’s to play along and get inspired to one day sail this or any other ocean racing course. In this way it keeps us engaged with the sport while we have this temporary pause in our actual racing.
“This is not the same of course,” said Peyron, “but it is a clever way to experience some of the strategic challenges we face in offshore sailing, and who knows, may inspire some new ocean racers to try this in person on their own.”
To bring interest in this virtual version of the race, Archipelagoes is offering an attractive prize for the winner of the online version of the race: 2 free air tickets to Tahiti, courtesy of race sponsor Air Tahiti Nui.
“We are saddened of course to not have our real race after over a solid year and a half of planning and preparation,” said TPYC race committee chairman Tom Trujillo. “But we applaud the tremendous energy of Stephanie and all her partners and sponsors to have “the show must go on” positive enthusiasm to find and implement this interesting alternative. We had a positive experience with a VR version of the Honolulu Transpac race last year running in parallel to the actual race, so we’re confident this will find success as well.”