Fifty sailboats will answer the starting signal today at 1 p.m. for the 35th biennial Transpacific race from Los Angeles to Honolulu.
The entry list is the smallest in several years for the 2,225-mile voyage, but the quality of the entries could make it one of the fastest.
Class A is composed entirely of 20 Ultra-Light Displacement 70-raters, any one of which could erase the elapsed-time record of 8 days 11 hours set by the 67-foot sloop Merlin in 1983. Merlin, from the design board of Bill Lee of Santa Cruz, will be in the race.
The 70-raters, ranging in size from 66 to 70 feet, are known as downwind sleds because of their ability to surf down the huge seas generated by the strong northeast trade winds.