This year's Transpac, which begins in mid-July, has special significance. It will mark 100 years since the event's inaugural running in 1906. Organizers expect a near-record number of entrants, many of them first-timers, all of them fulfilling a seafaring dream. The Transpac is an aspirational race. Unlike the America's Cup and other exclusive yacht races, any crew that meets certain qualifying standards can compete in the Transpac. So sailing fans aim and plan for it for years, piling up the requisite experience (and treasure chest, as an ocean crossing is expensive).
"This is the one event that every offshore racer hopes to do someday," says Urban Miyares of the Challenged America team, made up of sailors who are paraplegics or amputees or blind. "There's no other event in sailing―or in most other sports― where regular racers, even those who are disabled like us, can be in the same field as the best in the world."
Yacht racing's top boats are indeed here, including Pyewacket, a sleek, stripped-down, ultra-high-tech vessel owned by Roy Disney, nephew of Walt. Pyewacket set the record in 1999 for fastest elapsed time by a monohull, completing the crossing in a brisk 7 days, 11 hours, 41 minutes, and 21 seconds. Pyewacket's competition over the years has included yachts skippered by captains who have won the America's Cup or sailed multiple times around the world.