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By Roz Rogoff

About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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Sledding to Hawaii

Uploaded: Jul 12, 2012
Alex Mehran single-handed his "Sled" category boat, Truth, from the Corinthian Yacht Club in San Francisco to Hanelei Bay in Hawaii in a little over 8.5 days, literally blowing records out of the water. His boat, an Open 50 designed by Owen Clark, has set records in the past under previous names and skippers, but Mehran's feat is one for the record books now.

So what is a Sled, what is a TransPac, and is this the same Alex Mehran who owns Sunset Development? The TransPac race is a single-handed, non-stop (no anchoring for sleeping or eating), race across the open ocean. This years' TransPac from San Francisco covers 2,120 nautical miles, which is almost 2500 land miles, from San Francisco to Kauai. Most of the boats in the race are typical cruising sail boats in categories called, "Fast and Fun," "30 Something" referring to the boat's length, and "Big and Comfy."

The boat most likely to finish in first place is Green Buffalo, a "Big and Comfy" Cal 40, which, if it is typical of other Cal 40's, has a nicely appointed cabin with all the amenities of home. The Skipper of Green Buffalo, Jim Quanci, is moving at a nice 7.3 knots as I'm typing this. He has 222 NM to go to reach Hanelei Bay. At that rate it could take him at least one more day to reach the finish, and Alex Mehran, Jr. will be waiting for him.

Yes, the Alex Mehran in Truth is Junior, but there's nothing secondary about him. Earlier this year, Mehran, Jr. and Zan Drejes set another record in the Double Handed race around the Fallarones. This was only two weeks before the Slow Speed Chase ran aground resulting in the deaths of five of the eight crew members.

If you look at the video of the Double Handed race linked above, you will see that Truth is no comfy buffalo to sail. Mehran learned to sail in Maine when he was six years old. He later raced Lasers when he was 11.

I learned to sail in Maine when I was about 11. I sailed on a Sunfish, which is sometimes compared to a Laser, both being about 13' with a foot well, that skims on top of the water. Mehran's Truth, Open 50 skims on the water like a sled, or like a 50' Laser (a literary if not literal comparison).

My later boats all had deep, heavy keels. In High School I sailed a Cape Cod Mercury on Long Island Sound, out of McMichael's in Mamaroneck, New York. A few years later I bought a used Cape Cod Bullseye, which I sailed from New Rochelle.

The Bullseye is an updated version of Nat Herreshoff's original 12-and-a-half, named for the length of the waterline. The Bullseye is about 16' with a cuddy cabbin and 750 lb. lead keel.

This was a great single-hander, but I wouldn't want to try sailing it to Hawaii. The furthest I went in it was from New Rochelle to Glen Cove, Long Island, where my Cousin Elsie lived. Sailing for days, non-stop, by myself, isn't my idea of a good time, but there appear to be plenty of singlehanded sailors who love to do it every year.

I've never heard the term "Sled" referred to a boat. Mehran's Truth is the only boat in the Sled category in the singled handed TransPac race to Hawaii. Below is a description of the original design when the boat was first built under the name Artforms.

"The cockpit is noticeable for its trench rather than enclosed style and twin tillers. Artforms isn't designed just to sail single-handed however and the additional space afforded by the trench cockpit will make her easier and more pleasant to sail in the fully crewed environment."

When all of the TransPac racers have reached Kauai, they will turn around and sail back. This won't be as arduous as going since they are not racing each other anymore.

Mehran's boat, Truth, is listed for Charter in Australasia from August 2012 to March 2013 on the Owen Clark Design website for anyone here daring enough to try it. Count me out!
What is it worth to you?


Posted by mloliver, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jul 13, 2012 at 8:59 am

Well done article, Roz. I also enjoyed watching the progress of the single handed fleet crossing to Hawaii.

I didn't realize you also had a sailing history. Coincidentally, I raced a sunfish in my youth and just last month we passed our Laser on to our son and grandsons. It had been languishing in the back yard for a few years. Sailing is quite addicting. There were several Mercury sailboats in the first group we raced with in California, but they were not too comfortable in the SanFrancisco Bay chop. I'm also familiar with the Bullseye, but never been on one.


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Jul 13, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


I sold the Bullseye when I moved to California. I bought a Rhodes 19 keel boat in the early '80s from a neighbor in Culver City.

I dry launched it from a yard in Marina Del Rey. They stored small boats on trailers rigged and ready to launch. When I wanted to sail, they would tow the boat to the dock area and hoist it into the water. It rarely took more than 1/2 an hour to launch the boat this way and cost about $75 a month.

The Rhodes 19 was a nice, beamy, single hander with plenty of room for guests or crew. I sailed it pretty regularly until I moved north. I donated it to the Sea Scouts in Culver City.

I gave up sailing 20 years ago. We are about the same age, but I'm too old now to enjoy it.


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Jul 13, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


I was just looking at the Race Viewer. Web Link

Brian VanderZanden's Hobie 33 finished at 1 pm today. Jim Quanci's Green Buffalo, Cal 40, is very close. Quanci has another 22 NM to go and is whipping along at 8.3 knots.

Quanci will win First overall based on handicapping the different boat categories, but that doesn't diminish Mehran's amazing accomplishment or the others either.

Pretty exciting race. Thanks for cluing me in on it.


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Jul 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

I was looking at the race viewer again and VanderZanden finished at 10:30 am PDT this morning. Quanci is on track to finish around 6:30 pm PDT this evening. The rest of the pack won't finish until late tonight or early tomorrow.

Posted by mloliver, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jul 14, 2012 at 4:08 pm

I'm very familiar with the Rhodes 19. We actually brought our Melges 16 Scow out here with us in 1969. We sailed it mostly in Del Valle reservoir. We bought a swing keel 24' boat to sail on the bay and raced in the now defunct SBRA along with the Rhodes 19 class, among others. We replaced that boat with a Newport 30 and raced it for 20 years before buying our current 38' Ericson to sail to Mexico. I still enjoy sailing, but not racing any more. My brother has a Lightning that I know we will enjoy when we visit next month.

Thanks for reminding me to check on the finishes.


Posted by Paul Mitchell, a resident of another community,
on Jul 23, 2012 at 8:40 pm

I learned to sail a Laser in October 1983 at the Berkeley Marina. First weekend I spent most of my time in the water, convinced the Laser is designed to tip over (my novice skills and gusty SF Bay winds also helped turn the boat over many times). The second weekend the winds were steady and I stayed dry. I was prepared to buy my own Laser, but I waited until Spring 1984 before I planned to purchase one. Alas, other interests got in the way and I never bought a Laser, and never sailed a Laser or anything like it again.

I can see why people get into sailing; it's very peaceful on the water (but not in it!)

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Jul 23, 2012 at 8:48 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


I never sailed a Laser but I did sail Sunfish and Sailfish, which tipped over all the time. It was easy to right them by grabbing the side and standing on the dagger board. Oh that brings back memories. Thanks.


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