Transpac: Thrilling and Lively

by Sharon Green October 18, 2021

It’s Fall: what a cheery, crisp and colorful time of year! And the October images in the 2021 Ultimate Sailing Calendar bring me back to one of my favorite sailing events to photograph: the Transpacific Yacht Race. The Transpac always delivers the most thrilling boats and lively conditions – finishing right off of Oahu’s Diamond Head Lighthouse! Who wouldn’t love that?

Transpac 2021 kept me busy with three starts and a week of stunning arrivals: including Roy P. Disney and his team on the VOR 70 Pyewacket, who broke the 24-hour speed record along the way. A mind-boggling 506.4 miles!

Pyewacket 2021
The images you see here depict two other remarkable, 100-foot speedsters who also made the 2225-mile crossing in staggeringly fast times: Comanche (at top) in just under five-and-one-half days(!) and Rio 100 (bottom). 

Comanche was approaching the islands as the sun was setting – jeopardizing my chances of capturing this amazing machine in motion. My team had been following the tracker and adjusting their ETA based on our knowledge of conditions at the islands. And we were standing by for a message from navigator Stan Honey, who finally pinged me on WhatsApp, saying, “Please advise Sharon we will be just north of the point at Kalaupapa, Molokai at 1830.”

That’s still a good 20nm from the entrance to the Molokai Channel and nearly 50nm from the finish line. But we knew this rendezvous was our only chance of capturing an image! (They ultimately finished in the dark after 9PM.) And luckily Comanche was hugging the northern shore of Molokai: the only way we’d safely fly out. We don’t like to fly 20 miles out into the open ocean at night! And I was fortunate we stuck to our guns on that safety issue: as we did have a problem with the helicopter that evening (read about that in my July 2019 blog here: https://www.ultimatesailing.com/blogs/news/transpac-2019-the-numbers-are-in )

But before that occurred: we were flying out toward Comanche and the intercept point, updating the live tracker as we went. Although the sky was dark and it was showering, we continued to head directly toward the point. All of a sudden the sun poked through the clouds and Comanche appeared, brilliantly lit by heavenly rays.

I was impressed that the crew had followed my suggestion and put their Aloha team shirts on: even that far out! Crashing through the massive seas in 20-plus breeze, I’ll bet they were drenched by the time they arrived.


Capturing these Transpac finishes is always tricky, with arrivals all hours of day and night. When the boats are finishing in the early morning, we get into position and wait for the sun to come up; but shooting towards the boats as they approach, with the light from the east, is challenging! In the evening it’s the opposite, with the boats sailing into the setting sun, dramatically lit up by those brilliant Hawaiian sunsets. Although the timing there is crucial too, as dusk falls quickly and making it simply too dark to photograph. Sometimes we have to get creative!

These massive yachts, charging ahead at impressive speeds, remind me of how swiftly the New Year is approaching: bringing with it a thrilling new twist to the Ultimate Sailing Calendar! The year 2022 marks my 40th edition and a great opportunity to flash-back on some of my favorite calendar shots over the decades! 

The 2022 Ultimate Sailing Calendar spans from the IOR days with colorful spinnakers, to speedy sport boats with bow sprits and asymmetrical sails. From 1983 Big Boat Series to Admirals’ Cup, Kenwood Cup, Key West Race Week and of course America’s Cup … it’s a real feast for the eyes, conjuring up so many great moments in yachting; and the fabulous venues and friends along the way. I hope this collection will bring back many fond memories for you too and invite you to come along with me on this retrospective of the “Best of Ultimate Sailing” in 2022.








Sharon Green
Sharon Green


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