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VIDEO: Ronnie Simpson’s Warrior’s Wish Finishes 2nd in Class in 2010 Singlehanded Transpac

Video of Ronnie Simpson racing the 2010 Singlehanded Transpac aboard Warrior’s Wish, a Mount Gay 30. Warrior’s Wish took 2nd in class, finishing in 15 days. The 2010 Singlehanded TransPacific Yacht Race started on June 19th, 2010, from the Corinthian Yacht Club in San Francisco Bay and finished 2,120 miles across the Pacific at beautiful Hanalei Bay, Kauai. This is the 32nd year since the first SSS TransPac was held back in 1978.

Warrior’s Wish’ Post Race Blog

July 6, 2010- Hanalei Bay, Kauai, Hawaii

So, uh, yeah. It’s over. I’m in Kauai after completing my first Singlehanded Transpac. Was it worth it? Yes. Was it everything I thought it would be? No. it was more. Was crossing the line in Kauai the best single moment in my life? It’s a distinct possibility. Finishing this race, in that very moment, was the realization of a dream. Two years ago, this goal of singlehanding to Hawaii nearly killed me and it took everything I owned, stranding me in a foreign land with nothing. Except for the dream. And again this year, this goal of going solo across an ocean took a year out of my life, threw my life for a loop, depleted my checking account and actually started adding grey hairs to my 25 year old head. But now that i’ve done it, it seems like the time, money and effort involved in every facet of achieving this dream were all great investments.

My last night at sea was arguably my most enjoyable of the trip. The breeze went light, which was the only thing stressing me out. I needed 146 miles in 24 hours to make it in by next radio check and in before dark, which is something I was very concerned about. I stayed awake the entire night, drinking coffee and eating fig newtons, while listening to my iPod. I spotted a bunch of squalls right around dark, which has seemed to be the case while I was sailing in the race. After dark, the squalls seemed to play themselves out and I rarely saw squalls late at night. I watched all of the squalls closely; as they went behind me, in front of me, to port and to starboard. But none hit me. One was getting very close and looked inevitable though, so I dropped the kite. It missed me, but I poled out a jib anyways. I stood there in the companionway, watching the miles slip past my transom as I savored my last night of SHTP. I tried to sleep, but I was buzzing with anticipation and instant coffee-induced caffeine. No, I was not sleeping tonight. This was my last night as an ocean crossing virgin. Tomorrow I was making landfall.

Sun came up before our radio check, so I ran my spinnaker guy and spinnaker sheet, put up the wrap preventer, dropped the jib and got the kite on deck. All I had to do was raise the pole and hoist the kite. I went down below to give my coordinates at 9 AM radio check. I was 70 miles out, having made 76 miles throughout a building night time breeze. Immediately after check in, I hoisted the kite. It had never gone up so fast. I was so stoked for that kite hoist! I had one last kite run before hitting Hawaii. In 15 knots of breeze, I was making 9 knots over the ground. Very solid progress. The breeze started building, as did my boat speed. I called my girlfriend (who was with RJ) when I was 40 miles out. I told her I was 5 to 7 hours out, as I figured it would realistically take me that long. My boat speeds were staying very solid as the breeze started building more and more. In 25 knots true, I was blaring Rage Against the Machine and Tool on my iPod while hand steering the masthead kite towards Kauai. This was quickly turning in to the best kite run and best sailing of my 2.5 year old sailing career. I had turned on the handheld GPS and brought it into the cockpit. I was keeping the boat on a straight line to Hanalei while actively trimming and steering. We were flying. And then it happened. I spotted a line in the clouds. I knew I would see it eventually, and for me, it came at about 31 miles. It was Kauai’s north shore on the east side, rising from the water and turning into a volcano. The clouds shifted and I couldn’t see it again, but I knew it was there. At 28 miles it became visible again and then increasingly became larger and greener. Land ho!

We were extremely powered up with that much breeze and the masthead kite. Powered up enough to reach my highest boat speed ever in Warrior’s Wish. I had seen 14 knots on 2 or 3 occasions, but when we started planing. And planing. And planing. And planing off of a very large wave, I knew we were going fast. Fortunately the handheld GPS was there to show that I was traveling at more than 13 knots for what honestly felt like about 30 seconds, indicating a highest speed of 15.2 knots. I was soooooooooo stoked to see 15 knots. I have been 20 in a sportboat and 25.6 on a catamaran, but to reach 15 while solo on a tradewind swell in a 30 foot keel boat is a whole different ball game. That particular surf will go down as maybe my best pure sailing moment ever to this point. It was turning into a very good day.

I called Rob Tryon from my cell phone at 25 out. Then mom. Then Kat and RJ. Then various sailing friends. “Dude, i’m surfing to Kauai in cell phone range. Bye!” was my normal conversation. My friends all knew I was excited. We continued ripping to Kauai in grand fashion, with the island becoming larger and larger, closer and closer. Finally at 8 miles out, I got Jim Kellam on the VHF. That was a good feeling, being within VHF range. Still under full kite, I crossed the line at 8 knots. “Congratulations Warrior’s Wish, you have just finished the Singlehanded Transpac. Welcome to Hanalei”. The moment had been played over and over a million times in my head prior to it happening, but it still set me back. “It’s over. This is it. I did it.” I choked back tears and just said “thanks”. I ran deep, went pole forward and doused the kite within seconds. I sailed a bit further under main alone and then swung around and hove to so that the committee boat could come greet me. Ladonna from Latitude 38, Rob Tryon from race committee and my brother RJ all boarded the boat and then we began sailing around. We entered the boat as some local sailors sailed laps around us on a small sloop named “Rebel”. A dread locked and very friendly local girl was holding onto the backstay yelling “Welcome to Hanalei”. “Hooray for Warrior’s Wish. Welcome!!”

What an awesome freaking greeting. Phil and Maya and Tonya and your whole group; just know that you made this sailors first tropical landfall a bit more memorable and a bit more special. So thank you. I felt a good tropical, fun, laid back vibe from the get go. You locals are part of what makes Kauai so special. My girlfriend and Adam Correa’s girlfriend Kathe both boarded and we all anchored the boat. Rob and Ladonna interviewed me, gave me my lei and gave me my drink of choice which was a beer and a shot. It was actually a small glass of rum and not a shot, but I was not complaining. More booze.

So yeah, that’s about it. I crossed the line at 8 knots under full kite, after covering 70 miles in just under 7 hours on what had to be the best downwind romp of my life. We finished under a beautiful blue sky in what honestly may be the most beautiful place i’ve ever seen in my life. And we did it on the 4th of July, in the Warrior boat who is racing to honor and benefit wounded veterans. I was greeted by friends, family and wonderful girlfriend. We swam and played, ate food and drank, watched fireworks on the 4th, and are now just kicking back in Kauai, which to be honest, i’m already trying to move to and call home. (Yes, i’m dead serious.)

To Don Gray and everyone who was has supported me along the way: Thank you. This may be a solo ocean race, but there are a million people who have made this possible for me. Just know that you helped someone realize a dream and gave me a great experience that i’ll carry with me forever.

Some more relaxing and fun time, and then it’s back to work. The boat is in good shape, but I still have some work to do and some things to fix before sailing to Oahu and then undergoing the return voyage, doublehanded, to San Francisco near the end of the month.

Ronnie Simpson’s website Open Blue Horizon

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