The 67-foot Merlin, with Donn Campion of Santa Cruz Yacht Club as skipper, was on course to take first-to-finish honors in the Transpacific yacht race early today, but she will not break her own elapsed-time record of 8 days 11 hours 1 minute 46 seconds.
To beat the record, she would have had to finish off Honolulu's Diamond Head by midnight PDT Friday, but at 11 p.m. she radioed her estimated time of arrival as 12:45 a.m. PDT today. A CBS-TV plane spotted Merlin more than 25 miles from the finish at about 11 p.m., sailing down Molokai Channel in a dying breeze.
There were no other boats within 35 miles of Merlin.
This is the third time Merlin has been first to finish in the 2,225-mile race from Los Angeles. In 1977, designer-builder Bill Lee was in command. In 1981, with Nick Fracee of San Diego as skipper, she missed her record by just 46 seconds.