John B. Kilroy’s 79-foot Kialoa grabbed and early lead Saturday in the 2,225-mile Los Angeles to Honolulu Transpacific yacht race and led the 66-boat fleet to the west end of Catalina Island, the first checkpoint in the race.
A 15 to 18 knot westerly that whistled up a few minutes before 1 p.m., PDT started signal sent the yachts away in one of the fastest starts in the recent history of the biennial event.
The fresh breeze forced the crews on the light displacement yachts to reef their mainsails as they snaked through the big spectator fleet on a dead beat to the west end of the island.
The order of rounding was Kialoa, Windward Passage, Drifter, Merlin, Sorcery and Ragtime. Driver, Merlin and Ragtime were sailing with heavily reefed mains.
The race started under clear skies with a breeze that increased from 10 to 15 knots within minutes. The majority of the fleet crowded the weather end of the int for a closely bunched start.
One boat, Mamie, was over early and was forced to restart. Several boats were forced outside the weather make and had to start late.
Ragtime had a perfect start near the weather end of the line, but the boats down to leeward found clear air and surged out front soon after the start.