Tom Akin had a lot to say about sailing Flash, a TP 52, to Hawaii. His initial comments were, “I found out what is its like to be in a TP52 for seven days. You sit in water, you eat in water, and you sleep in water. It’s wet. The beast is not as luxurious as my Santa Cruz 52. I was looking for a creature comfort and couldn’t find one.”

Akin, his crew and Jeff Thorpe, Criminal Mischief’s navigator, worked non-stop over a very short period of time to get Flash into racing condition. From the time the boat arrived in Long Beach, two weeks before the start, until the evening before they took off, the deck was strewn with rigging materials, sealants and tools. The work that they did paid off. With more than half of the Transpac fleet safely docked in Honolulu, Flash sits second in class and second in fleet.

Akin had nothing but praise for each and every individual who sailed Transpac 09 on Flash. As their Aloha party wound to a close, Akin rose to the occasion and thanked them. He started by saying, “You’ll always have a special affinity for a boat that takes you 2,500 miles. It’s a bond that we’ll never forget. We did a lot of really good things and we have to be happy with that. If someone had told me that we would be sitting in the second in class, second in fleet position a few months ago, I would have told him he was crazy.”

His talented crew does not sail together regularly. Akin said, “Samba Pa Ti is a though boat and is sailed by professionals. They’re obviously much smoother and they got the angles down.”

Flash held the lead on corrected time for much of the race while Samba was “zigzagging all over the place,” said Paul Cayard. “We were pleasantly surprised to be in the lead. During the last two days, they got it sorted out and put on the afterburners and put 40 miles a day on us.”

Allie Cayard, the youngest and the only female on board said, “There was never a dull moment. There was always something to be fixed.” Allie sailed with her brother and father, Paul. She also noted how calm it was dockside compared to out on the Pacific Ocean sailing the world’s most enduring and greatest ocean race.

It was a tough 24 hours for Flash and a great 24 hours for Samba. The sailing has been great. Lots of high speed sailing….24 knots of boat speed. These TP52s with the bowsprits and deeper keels are great boats to sail. Everyone on Flash is driving the boat and experiencing the exhilaration. At one point late yesterday afternoon, we were “ripping” along at 25 knots in 28 knots of wind. The water was coming down the deck 1foot high at times and Allie had to keep standing up to avoid the wall of water from her position at the mainsheet. I said to her, “Al, this is a little bit of what the Volvo is about.” She smiled and said, “Show me the money!”

There has been a lot of squall activity in the past 48 hours now that we are firmly down in the trade winds. Squalls are little storms that brew at the bottom of a cloud…a cloud that releases its energy in the form of wind and sometimes rain. In dealing with squalls, one tries to avoid the windward side of them and get lined up for the good “downwind” side. Sometimes this “line up” happens naturally and you are perfectly set up just by nature. Sometimes you have to gybe a few times to get the line up right.

Onboard Flash, we did not have the natural line up so we did a lot of maneuvering to try to get a few bursts of wind. We also could not avoid two of the bad ones and we went very slow for and hour in each of those. It looks like Samba did a better job of getting the good part of the squalls.

Another factor that could be relevant is that Samba set up to the west of us. In fact they were to the west of everyone, in the corner, and we were second most west. The whole rest of the fleet is inside is to the east. Maybe the west just had that much more wind.

We have maintained or extended our lead on our competitors. This may confirm that the west is best. Anyway, we are still second in class and second overall this morning, relinquishing the top spots to Samba for the first time in the race. We never really expected to be challenging to win this race in first place, but once you get a taste of it, you don’t want to let go. Samba had a 1.25 hour lead on us in handicap at 0600 today. Anything is possible so we are pushing hard here.

This non-stop, downwind sledding, is really fun. We have one more fantastic day of it today, as we will probably finish just shortly after midnight tonight. It has been a lot of fun and the whole crew of Flash thanks Tom Akin, our skipper for making it all happen.

I will write a summary report in the next few days if I don’t write another one before the finish.


Flash will finish the Transpac Race around 0130 local time tomorrow July 13

You can follow the fleet by going to and click on the Tracker.

About 680 miles to go.

Well we got to our gybe point just about an hour ago. So far the wind is holding in the low 60’s (this means 60 degrees as in ENE, not 60 knots) and that gives us a great heading right at Hilo. A lot will happen between here and Diamond Head in terms of wind changes, so it is good to have some room out the the right to make some moves.

We crossed gybes with Pegasus this afternoon…the first boat we have seen in about 4 days. We have been pleasantly surprised to find ourselves winning this race in calls and overall. We always knew Samba Pa Ti would be a strong player but we never imagined to be this competitive with them. It looks like one of the two of us have a great shot at winning the race overall. This has a lot to do with the good fortune our group had in starting with the great weather we had last Sunda,y as opposed to the weather the other two groups had earlier in the week.

It is night now so the wind comes and goes as the clouds pass. Sometimes it increases to 25 knots and it is fast and furious on deck with plenty of water rushing down the deck. There is one of those going on right now so I am doing a lot of re typing as I write this.

Everyone is looking forward to getting to Honolulu. I am trying to remind everyone about what a great spot we are in right now, “the momenta”, and to remember it because it will be over too soon and this only happens once a year if you are lucky. 2000 miles of downwind sleigh riding. That is what the Transpac is. It is like skiing for 8 days and never needing a chair lift.

Off to the bunk for a bit of rest.


You can follow the fleet by going to and click on the Tracker.

Pretty excited today to find ourselves in first place overall! Lady luck must be smiling on the good ship Flash.

We are not doing anything very exceptional, just sailing steady down the middle, with one eye on the router and one eye on the competition. Some of our competitors are doing the slalom, cutting from the south of the fleet to the north. Either they have some specialty sail that they want to use or they decided they were not in love with the south and wanted to be north. Anyway, we are just observing and keeping it steady.

The trade winds appeared yesterday late afternoon. The high overcast of the first three days gave way to sunshine and puffy cumulus clouds indicative of the tropics. Today we have a bit of cloud cover back, and even had two mild squalls of 27 knots of wind.

We are making good time. We will probably finish sometime Monday, which will be right around the 8 days mark. I think Alfa has a good chance at the record. So far, the weather could not be better for a race to Honolulu.

15-20 knots of northeast trades have been the menu for the past two days. Onboard the good ship Flash, everyone drives, regardless of experience. It is nice to see the young guys absorbing so much and smiling so much. The big gybe is coming in the next 20 hours. I have been studying the router and the weather maps together with Jay Crum trying to pick the sweet spot for our approach to Diamond Head.

Onboard, life is easy. The boat is smooth and when below you have the rushing sound of the water running over the hull. Flying fish are starting to appear and one landed onboard last night. Not many dolphins yet but not much trash either. The sea looks incredibly clean. This is really good news. Allie took a bath today on the back her bathing suit. The boys aren’t too worried about their smell yet. Maybe tomorrow.

Beef Stroganoff, Turkey Tetrazzini, and Teriyaki Chicken are getting a workout. We will be done with that when we get to Honolulu. A big steak will go a little ways toward filling the void.

Just had a big weather download session on this off watch. Time to get back on deck in 45 minutes for my sunset sail.


You can follow the fleet by going to and click on the Tracker.

It has been fairly mild sailing out here about 600 miles off the coast of California for the past 24 hours. There is still a high Marine Layer cover in the sky which is probably a good thing because 8 days of total sunshine would be draining. The winds have been in the 12-18 knot range and backing to the north and northeast.

We are in the middle of our main competitors in the TP 52 class. Samba Pa Ti who has been sailing very fast these first few days is about 20 miles ahead and to the south of us while Valkarie and some of the SC 70’s like Pyewacket are 20-40 miles a stern of us. I am sure you can check out the fleet positions by going to We have made a 5 mile gain on Samba in the last 10 hours…maybe a bit of compression with different winds. The Samba hull shape is very fast reaching which is what we have done in the first three days. They have taken their advantage and leveraged it to the south. They obviously feel there will be more wind in the south in the coming days.

The sea is smooth out here so good sleeping weather.

I am going for some right now.

0330 PDT – The July 5th start of the Transpac Race was a good one. We had about 12 knots at the start and the wind held on a long starboard tack toward the West end of Catalina Island. We made a few short tacks to get around the West end about 2.5 hours after starting.

At 100 feet in length with a canting keel, Alfa Romeo pulled away from the fleet quickly. Samba Pa Ti, one of the four TP 52s led the way in our group and on Flash we were second to round the West end. The Santa Cruz 70’s were just ahead of us so we were all mixing it up on the shorts tacks up the coast of Catalina.

After Catalina, the fleet cracked sheets a bit and started heading about 210 degrees magnetic. We held onto Samba Pa Ti pretty well in this stability sailing. At one point in the night, Samba, Philippe Kahn’s Pegasus and us were all within about five boat lengths.

The first night was cold and a bit rough with wind speed in the low to mid 20’s and short steep waves. We were all pretty wet and uncomfortable. My daughter Allie’s boots were soaked and her feet were cold so I filled her boots up with warm water from the kettle and then drained them. This did not make them any dryer but they were warm and she really liked that little trick.

As Monday came around, the fleet started to spread out a bit, the wind moderated and clocked and life got a bit smoother. We shifted to the Jib Top reacher early in the morning and by midday Monday we had a flat reaching spinnaker up. It was pretty nice to have a spinnaker up within 24 hours of the start.

With the more eased sailing, Samba took off on us. They probably have some pretty nice reaching sails for those angles. Also, they are set up lighter than Flash in displacement so once the wind began to ease and clock, that was good for Samba.

Life onboard Flash is good. No major problems. We have been eating our freeze dried Beef Stroganoff and Chicken Terriyaki. The weather looks like the wind will get a bit lighter (10-12 knots) over the next 24 hours then start a slow build after that into the trades. The wind is clocking slowly over this period also.

We saw a few whales off the coast but not nearly as many as we did in the race from SF to LA a few weeks ago. That is mainly because we are sailing perpendicular to the coast and most of the whales swim along the coast.

The moon is fairly full and even thought we are still under the marine layer, we have good visibility on deck at night. This makes the long night watches a lot better.

That’s all for now.


You can follow the fleet by going to and click on the Tracker.

It is the eve of the start for us on Flash, the Farr designed TP52 which has been modified with a deeper keel, bowsprit and square top main. The Trans Pac is a 2250 mile race from LA to Honolulu which is run every odd numbered year. There are three starts in this years race in an effort to get the whole fleet to finish as closely as possible. The smallest boats started last Monday and another group started on Thursday. We are in the final group tomorrow. Unfortunately for the first two groups, there was very little wind out on the Pacific last week. Things are starting to shape up tomorrow and Monday. This should give a big advantage to the boats in our group for overall honors.

Some of the well known names in our group are John Kilroy’s Samba Pa Ti, Roy P Disney’s Pywacket, and Neville Chrighton’s Alfa Romeo-the 100 foot R/P super Maxi that will be gunning for the outright record which currently stands at 6 days 19 hour set by Hasso Platner’s Morning Glory.

Our boat, Flash, was originally built for George Andreadis and I sailed on her (Atalanti) in the first Med Cup season in 2005. A bit of work has gone into making Flash seaworthy and somewhat waterproof.

So at 1255 PDT tomorrow we will be off. The router currently has us finishing at midnight on July 14. That is, of course, subject to change.
The Flash crew;
Tom Akin-Skipper
Jay Crum
Joe Crum
Paul Cayard
Danny Cayard
Allie Cayard
Paul Allen
Skip McCormick
Hogan Beatie
Will Paxton

You can follow the fleet by going to and click on the Tracker.

We just ate at PF Chang’s and finished it off with “The Great Wall of Chocolate”!

Off to a real bed for the last time for 8 days.