With 44 races starting in 1906, the Transpacific Yacht Race to Hawaii is well into its second century as the longest of the two oldest ocean races in the world. The first race was the year of the great San Francisco earthquake, which literally altered the course of the event.
The race was inspired by King Kalakaua, the revered Hawaiian leader of the late 19th century who believed such an event would strengthen the islands' economic and cultural ties to the mainland. But it didn't happen until Clarence MacFarlane, a Honolulu racing sailor, invited several contemporaries in San Francisco and Los Angeles to race to the Hawaiian Islands. The race was scheduled to start in the early summer of 1906, but when MacFarlane sailed his 48-foot schooner into San Francisco Bay he realized there would have to be a change of plans. The city lay in ruins following the great earthquake 27 days earlier.
MacFarlane wasn't easily discouraged and he simply changed the starting point to Los Angeles. Except for one nostalgic return to San Francisco for the start in 1939, the race has begun in Southern California ever since. The starting line is now off the bluffs of Point Fermin in San Pedro at the southern edge of the City of Los Angeles. The finish is off the Diamond Head lighthouse just east of Honolulu, establishing a distance of 2,225 nautical miles (about 2,560 miles). Read more...