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YACHTING

Pegasus Wins Transpac Ahead of Disney Entry

July 10, 2001|MARTIN HENDERSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

An 11-year-old boy and a flying horse seem more suited to a Disney movie, but they were part of the real-life scenario that took down defending champion Roy E. Disney in the 41st Transpacific Yacht Race.

Pegasus, the 75-foot sloop of Philippe Kahn, won the Transpac on Monday with the 10th-fastest time in race history, reaching the Diamond Head lighthouse on Oahu before the other super sleds that left with it on July 1.

A monohull designed by Reichel-Pugh of San Diego, Pegasus arrived at 12:34 p.m. local time. In doing so, Pegasus sailed 2,225 nautical miles from the Palos Verdes Peninsula in 8 days 2 hours 34 minutes 3 seconds to win the Barn Door Trophy.

"The most amazing moment of the race was that a thousand miles from Hawaii, we saw Pyewacket a hundred feet from us," said Kahn, 49, a software engineer from Santa Cruz. "That was extraordinary. The race restarted there. I think we just out-sailed and outworked everyone else."

Pegasus, named after the mythical flying white horse that carried the thunderbolt of Zeus, finished 1 hour 2 minutes 55 seconds ahead of Disney's Pyewacket, the race record holder and defending champion. Disney, of Los Angeles, made the trip in the 1999 Transpac in 7 days 11 hours 41 minutes 27 seconds.

Though Pegasus' elapsed time didn't break the record of Disney, vice chairman of the company that bears his last name, Kahn's son, Samuel, 11, found his way into the record book. A member of Kahn's 12-man crew, Samuel is believed to be the youngest competitor dating back to the first race in 1906. Stephanie Baker Elliott was 12 when she sailed on her mother's boat, Quascilla, in 1957.

"It was a fantastic bonding experience," Philippe Kahn said. "Hopefully, it will give him an appreciation for the wilderness and the ocean."

If Pegasus' corrected time--it benefits from a 29-minute handicap--holds up, it will become only the fourth boat since 1936 to sweep the Transpac, finishing first in its division and first in overall and corrected time.

The challenger most likely to defeat Pegasus' corrected time is Seth Radow's Bull from Marina del Rey, which should finish Wednesday in Division IV.

On Saturday morning, with 739 miles remaining, Pegasus and Pyewacket were in a dead heat. But Monday morning, Pegasus had stretched an eight-mile lead to 16 over Pyewacket in the previous 24 hours.

"That was really the pivotal moment for me," said navigator Mark Rudiger, who got his fourth Transpac victory. "We had gained enough miles to be unbeatable."

The last man to make a clean sweep, Corona del Mar's Bob McNulty on Chance, trailed Pegasus and Pyewacket to the finish. The first three finishers were Reichel-Pugh designs.

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