Disabled sailors lead early starters to Hawaii

If the Centennial Transpacific Yacht Race had a yellow jersey, the crew of disabled sailors from Challenged America would be sharing it right now.

Like Lance Armstrong in France, the four men and able-bodied skipper Joshua Ross from San Diego climbed a mountain in the Pacific Ocean yesterday to stand closer to Hawaii than any of the other 32 boats from the four classes of smaller boats that started Monday.

As cold winds increased to 20-25 knots from the north-west, morning position reports had Challenged America’s Tripp 40, B’Quest, 2,059 nautical miles from the finish on Day 3 of the 2,225-mile race.

Challenged America co-founder Urban Miyares, sailing his second successive Transpac, reported by e-mail: “We had a great start, but with new mast and rigging it took us about an hour to really get the boat in tune. Currently, it is big swell but overall glassy conditions.

“Currently, Captain Josh is driving, Jim [Halverson] is trimming and Kevin [Wixom] and Scott [Meide] are down below napping. I’m the lookout.”

Miyares, a Vietnam veteran, is blind. “I am trying to get used to the galley and trying to remember where we packed everything,” he said. “It has helped that we have cookies. Our thanks go out to all of the supporters who made cookies for us. I think next Transpac we will do it just on cookies.”

Two boats were two miles back: Steve Brown’s Express 37, Brown Sugar, also from San Diego, and David Johnson’s Plan B, from Long Beach. Plan B also led Aloha A class on corrected handicap time. Brown Sugar and B’Quest were second and third in Division V, behind Reed Barnard and Brian VanderZanden sailing the J/35 Diablo doublehanded.

In the 14-boat Cal 40 fleet, Davis Pillsbury’s Ralphie from Colorado had a two-mile lead on Sally Honey’s all-woman Illusion with 2,063 miles to go.

The Division III and IV boats plus Shanakee II from Aloha A will start Friday, followed by the Division I and II thoroughbreds on Sunday. Both starts will be off the Palos Verdes Peninsula at 1300.