Friday, July 29, 2016

An Epic Race: Transpac Results


by Jen Gennari

Jiří Šenkyřík crossed the finish line first!

Sailing three minutes short of 13 days, Jiří came in second overall (for corrected time) in the race from San Francisco to Hawaii. “When I radioed, the race committee and Bri met me in a small boat—it was a surprise to me to see my mom and dad, too,” he says. “As I finished, two dolphins were jumping and criss-crossing in front of my boat.”

The Singlehanded Transpac takes pluck. Battling nausea, a shaking boat, and big swells, Jiří struggled to eat enough calories (“I lost my beer belly”). At one key moment he moved south to avoid getting becalmed. The problem: hurricanes churned up the sea to the south. It was a gamble that paid off.

His scariest moment occurred his second night out. “The storm had stripped all the sails from the deck of the boat, and they were dragging around the keel.” He recalled, “I was thinking, ‘Number one rule don’t fall off the boat; number two rule don’t fall off the boat; number three, repeat number one.’ A big wave ripped the headlamp off my head. I saw the light swirling around in the water, and I looked at it and thought, that is what could happen to me.” He hugged the mast.

About 800 miles out from the California coastline, he witnessed the environmental effects of our waste culture. “It was depressing to see,” he said. “Not only was there no sign of life but there was this human garbage.”

With just three days to go, Jiří knew one of the boats was about five miles ahead of him. “I was going fast, under spinnaker, and my boat broached,” he says. “I had to cut all these ropes, and I was sure I had lost.”

In the dark of night, he texted his despair to his girlfriend. “Within a 5-minute period, Bri wrote me something nice, then my mom wrote me something nice, and then my dad wrote me something nice,” says Jiří. “It went from dark to sun, and I was doing 8 knots, and I didn’t see any other boat.”

Jiří praised his fellow racers. “They were all so experienced and smart,” he says. “It was an amazing journey.”

For detailed results CLICK HERE
Link to previous story: A Solo Sailing Race to Hawaii