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TAHITI, June 25, 2012 – Steven Rander is a man of the sea. A lifelong builder of boats, he recently put all his experience and expertise to the ultimate test when he and his closely knit crew made the 3,571 mile voyage aboard Rander’s yacht, Rage, from Los Angeles to Tahiti to win the fabled 2012 Tahiti Race. The yacht was conceived and built by Rander’s Schooner Creek Boat Works in Portland, OR, and crossed the finish line May 6th off of Point Venus to win the grueling race in 16 days, so grueling in fact that only one other boat, the world famous Beau Geste, competed.
Most of those aboard Rage were family and friends who have sailed together aboard the yacht for years. The Rage’s crew consisted of Rander, who took the helm as skipper, as well as Jim Cullison, Jay Phillips, Alex Krawarik, Dennis Damore, Kevin Flanigan, George Gade, and Leif and Bradley Hansen. The Hansens are the first father and son to sail the race together and Bradley at 16 is the youngest sailor to participate in the race.
Rage was designed by Tom Wylie a well known naval architect from the Bay Area. The 70-foot Rage is gaining celebrity status in the Pacific Northwest and has set records for the Pacific Cup from San Francisco to Oahu, the San Francisco to Catalina Race, and most recently the Oregon Offshore. The Beau Geste, an 80-foot Farr designed maxiboat that sails out of Hong Kong, is under skipper/owner Karl Kwok, who has successfully campaigned in major ocean races internationally, and has a world class professional crew including Gavin Brady.
First held in 1925, the Tahiti Race has since run intermittently. The majority of races have started from Los Angeles though twice it started from San Francisco and once from Honolulu. A long hiatus followed the 1994 race before it was revived in 2008 under the auspices of the Transpacific Yacht Club, which also oversees the Los Angeles to Honolulu Transpac Race. That year, four boats competed and Magnitude 80 set a new record of 11 days 10 hours. The Tahiti Race is now planned to be held every four years.
This year’s race certainly had its challenges. The initial part of the race had light and at times inconsistent winds and began as a long close hauled leg west seeking better air. Powering ahead, Beau Geste was the first to find favorable winds and turned south toward Tahiti. Taking full advantage, she put together a series of great daily runs making more than 400 miles during one 24-hour period.
Rage was trapped on the wrong side of a weak low pressure system and experienced very light air and spent the better part of a day becalmed. Finally finding wind, she also turned south and began making respectable daily runs. By then, Beau Geste had built such a lead that it appeared Rage had little chance of placing.
However, as Beau Geste approached Tahiti, the wind failed and her crew experienced a series of frustratingly slow days. But Rage continued to grind south with light but consistent wind, closing the gap. By the time Beau Geste finished on the 4th, a win on corrected time seemed possible for Rage. Wind predictions, though, became an increasing concern for Rage’s crew because the predictions showed that she might also run out of wind short of Tahiti.
Rejecting various computer generated optimum courses and relying on his own experience and expertise, Skipper Steve Rander opted to head straight for the finish line. Based on Rage's speed and her light air capability to get the job done, he trusted his boat more than he trusted the computers.
But one more unforeseen obstacle stood in the way. The last night's sail was interrupted by a collision with a whale. Though the hull was cracked, damage to Rage was not critical; it is not known how the whale fared. The following afternoon, with Tahiti in sight, the wind as feared began to fade. Boat speed over the last 10 to 15 miles dropped to two knots.
It was a frustratingly slow sail, but at dusk the wind freshened enough to allow Rage to finish under a spinnaker and a spectacular sunset. Then Rage and her crew motored to the quay in Papeete where Mai Tais, Tahitian dancers and family and friends waited to celebrate the thrill of victory.
STEVE RANDER PROFILE
Innovation, craftsmanship and attention to the smallest of details. These are the philosophies to which Steve Rander has dedicated himself and his boatyard since he opened the doors to Schooner Creek Boat Works in 1977.Born in 1946, Steve began building small boats with his father in the backyard of their Southern California home. Later, he honed his craft as a finish carpenter with Wayfarer Yacht Corporation (Islander Yachts) and then eventually moved to the Pacific Northwest, where he became a rigger and service manager for a Portland yacht dealer. When Steve opened Schooner Creek, he began specializing in new wood cold-molded craft and general boat repairs. In 1979, he developed a new method of cold molding, utilizing core materials. This new method was named the “COVE System” (Core Over Veneer and Epoxy) which has since resulted in a number of very successful performance and cruising yachts.
Today, Schooner Creek is nationally and internationally regarded as one of the finest custom boatbuilding facilities in the world. The yacht Rage is a product of that culture.
Last edited by kaneb; 06-26-2012 at 02:50 PM.
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