Russian roulette
Sailing

Russian roulette

How did the Russian team participate in Transpac Honolulu Race?
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This year Transpac Honolulu Race was attended by a team under the Russian flag headed by a Krasnoyarsk citizen Afanasy Isaev. The mainsail was broken, but luckily Vladimir Kulinichenko, the one who was responsible for sails on the legendary Soviet yacht «Fazisi» during the Whitbread Round the World Race, was on board. Read below a translation of an article about the team from the official website of the regatta.

The 2225-mile Transpac race from Los Angeles to Honolulu, first held in 1906, is known all over the world and is one of the points in many Vishlists, including the list of Afanasy Isaev from Krasnoyarsk. This millionaire city is the third largest in Siberia, but is far from the big water. So how did his crew of 15 people at Grand Mistral 80 Weddell in 1996 get to this race and complete its route in almost 11 days? It's a long story, full of unexpected turns, but a big role in the fact that the Russian team managed to get to Honolulu, played a second skipper Vladimir Kulinichenko.

In the racing community on the East Coast of the United States many people know him as «Cooley». He has been actively involved in the racing community since he arrived 20 years ago after completing the Whitbread Round the World Race on the Soviet yacht «Fazisi».

Fully built and designed in the USSR, this red aluminum boat made a lot of noise around the world in 1989-90, with the rest of the crew being much larger, heavier and faster. In this unusually narrow, lightweight design, the overboard height was half that of its competitors, and it looked exactly as it was - very and very wet.

However, with a much more modest budget than its rivals, the «Fazisi» team managed to circumnavigate the world more or less intact, turning the boat from an outsider into a cult one. And when they did, Cooley went ashore and became a Connecticut sailing manufacturer, married an American woman and has been living in Florida ever since.

Whenever a Russian team competes in an American race, Cooley helps them by acting as an important source of sailing skills and building bridges between two different cultures. The latter was particularly relevant in this race as Isaev took guests on board with pay-per-view as he does in other amateur offshore programs.

«It was a difficult transition, but still we did it," Cooley said. - There was a core of a few people on our team who knew the boat well, but they weren't enough to run it 100% of the time. About halfway through, the mainsail broke, which slowed us down. The sail cracked all the way from the front to the back».
Cooley had to remember his sailing skills. He repaired the mainsail within 36 hours so that the yacht could get to Hawaii.

The boat slowly, at 6-8 knots, reached almost the finish line when the sail parted again. The team finished the race under one stack.

«We'll have to patch that sail again to get to Australia»," Cooley added. In Australia, they, like some other Transpak competitors, intend to race in the Sydney-Hobart Race in December. It seems that Isaev may need Cooley again in this race as the Krasnoyarsk yachtsman is likely to recruit the crew again for a prepaid seat.

Together with Weddell, Transpac finished the Cal 40 Azure on 17 July by Rodney Pimintel, who led most of the race at the corrected time, but was halfway there to help the SC 52 Medusa Jay Spalding, who was left with five gallons of fuel. Despite this, Azure took a place at the top of the division 7 table. The crew were waiting for a warm welcome on shore: Azure has been helping its offshore rivals for the second time in the last couple of weeks.

Of all the competitors on the route on July 17th there were two boats - a catamaran Kastor Pollux and Oceanis 48 Cabernet Sky. The Tail End Charlie Award, awarded to the last competitor to cross the finish line, ended up with a single-hulled boat arriving in Honolulu only on the morning of July 19.

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