Transpac 2003 Preparations

LIVING A PIPE DREAM IN TRANSPAC 2003

LONG BEACH, Calif. June 2003 - It was convenient how Transpacific Yacht Club scheduled its 42nd biennial race from Los Angeles to Hawaii this summer because it fit right into Scott Piper's plans.

"This is part of the third circumnavigation," he said.

Piper's Pipe Dream IX from Coral Gables, Fla. is one of three J/160s and eight J Boats overall. All will start in Divisions 3 and 4 on the Fourth of July, following the Cal 40 and Aloha fleets on July 1 and preceding Divisions 1 and 2 on July 6.

The other J/160s are Peter Johnson's Maitri and Myron Lyon's Innocent Merriment, both from San Diego. There also are a J/145, two J/125s and two J/120s. There is even another boat named Pipe Dream: John Davis' Choate/Feo 37 from Long Beach. But it's a good bet that among the race's 59 entries none has as much mileage under its keel as Pipe Dream IX.

Piper, 64, has sailed the 53-foot boat 79,341 nautical miles since he bought it in 1996. That's more than 35 Transpacs, at 2,225 miles each. In the past seven years the Florida orthopedic surgeon has been around Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope, through the Suez Canal and through the Panama Canal four times, including on this tour.

"We left Miami on Feb. 22," Piper said. "Hawaii's on the way, which is why we're doing the Transpac. We'll go from there to the Marshall Islands, Palau, the Philippines, Borneo . . . I do most of my racing in an Etchells and use the big boat to cruise, but whenever a race presents itself, I do it."

That includes the Sydney-Hobart race on circumnavigation No. 2 and a course record in the Annapolis-Bermuda race in '96 on what he calls a "shakedown cruise."

Most of those miles have been in comfort. "Of the three J/160s going, we are by far the most in a cruising mode," Piper said. "I have everything on that boat you can imagine."

j160pdreamMaitri and Innocent Merriment reported enjoying "extensive wine cellars [and] fresh showers every day" when they finished 1-2 overall in last year's San Diego-to-Puerto Vallarta race. Piper said his amenities include a fridge and freezer, washer-dryer, three air conditioners, a large transformer, three extra fuel tanks, a big-screen TV---"You name it," Piper said, "we have it."

He launched his current lifestyle 10 years ago, alternating a couple of months of work with portions of his circumnavigations, flying between Florida and his stopovers. "It's been a successful formula for me," he said. "Though not as lucrative, the practice held together."

His wife Gillette will join him after Transpac for a cruise of the Hawaiian Islands before he sets out for the Marshalls in October. "I met her as a blind date after a Newport-Bermuda race when I was 21 and she was 19," Piper said. "She named the first boat."

They'll celebrate their 40th anniversary before he starts Transpac.