HomeBlogEssaysA Crazy Idea: Transpac 2015

Adrenalin at the start of the 2015 Transpac. Photo: Sharon Green/Ultimate Sailing.
Adrenalin at the start of the 2015 Transpac. Photo: Sharon Green/Ultimate Sailing.

A Crazy Idea: Transpac 2015

What it’s like to race the Transpac, or, the backstory to my first ocean crossing.

The idea for Adrenalin started with an email from Del Olsen to a few interested parties. The subject line read, “A Crazy Idea.” In the email, Del proposed putting together a consortium of like-minded dinghy sailors (Del sails International Canoes) to purchase a boat fit to race to Hawaii. The response was as fast and as sure as a summer squall: Not so crazy an idea after all.

By early Fall 2014, Del along with I14 sailors Greg Mitchell, Kirk Twardowski, and Andy Bates had found the boat they wanted, a Custom Santa Cruz 50 built in South Africa and currently residing in Southern California. Adrenalin was in good shape with an extensive inventory of sails and a lengthy racing resumé—she can be seen in the Disney documentary Morning Light at the start of the 2007 Transpac. By Thanksgiving, Adrenalin was at the dock at the Richmond Yacht Club, which is where I met her. I told Del, “If you need a good snacktician, I’m raising my hand!”

Jenn Virskus Transpac 2015 Adrenalin
You can take the girl out of Michigan, but she’ll always be a Spartan!

His ultimate goal was the 2016 Pacific Cup. But as the group and a few good local crew started practicing, they realized the boat was in excellent shape and with a little (a lot) more work could actually be ready to go for the 2015 Transpac.

The Transpac crew was filled out with Byte sailor Gail Yando as pit/medic/gourmet chef, skiff sailors John Clark on bow and me as trimmer (we both sail big boats too, of course), and Joseph Shacat on main (at the time, Joseph regularly sailed on the Honolulu-based DK46 CaZan).

As Del might say, the Adrenalin crew was putting their big boy pants on. Not one of us had ever raced a Transpac, and five of us, including Kirk as navigator, had never crossed an ocean.

Adrenalin Crew: Transpac 2015
Adrenalin Crew: Transpac 2015

We made it, of course, though it took longer than anticipated because it was a light wind year. Joseph and I chronicled our journey in a boat log, which Kirk set up as a Word document on the Nav computer. This passage summarizes the passage quite nicely:

“Last night was pretty epic, sailing out in front of the squalls at fairly high boat speeds, relying on the instruments and the moon glow…” Joseph Shacat

Would you like to know what it’s like to race the Transpac? You can read a PDF of our entire boat log, or check out my article (and huge photo gallery!) What It’s Like to Race the Transpac on Sail Couture!

Update 2018: I really want to do another Transpac and I’m actively looking for a ride for the 2021 race. If you need crew, please let me know!