Trimaran Breaks New York-San Francisco Sailing RecordJACK SCHREIBMAN , Associated Press
May. 26, 1989 4:28 PM ET
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Two ocean-weary sailors celebrated with sprays of champagne Friday after collecting their trophy for racing the 14,500 miles from New York around Cape Horn to San Francisco in record time.
''I want to bet all the money that anybody has in his pocket that there are no happier men on Earth than Steve and I here today,'' said Latvian-born skipper Georgs Kolesnikovs, 46, after he and crewman Steve Pettengill, 37, completed the voyage in 76 days, 23 hours.
The stained and sea-worn trimaran Great American sailed slowly in light wind beneath the Golden Gate Bridge under cloudless skies. It crossed the finish line - an imaginary line running between touristy Pier 39 and Alcatraz Island - at 10:46 a.m.
The 60-foot, 12,000-pound vessel was greeted by a raucous fleet of boats, and cheers rang out as the men waved their arms in triumph.
''This was a very long trip, very tough,'' Kolesnikovs said.
The previous record was 80 days and 20 hours. It was set just three months ago by Warren Luhrs and his sloop Thursday's Child.
Commodore Mike Fortenbaugh of the Manhattan Yacht Club, which inspired a series of attempts by sponsoring a trophy for the fastest trip, said Kolesnikovs did not look like a winner at first. ''When we were seeing him off in New York, his was the slowest start.''
''This is terrific,'' he added. ''Georgs sailed a perfect race.''
Kolesnikovs, of Niagara Falls, Canada, and Pettingill, of Newport, R.I., filled the foot-tall silver trophy with champagne and shared a drink and a dousing.
The successful run, said Fortenbaugh, broke ''one of the toughest records in the world.''
The record was held for 135 years by the American clipper Flying Cloud, which took 89 days to complete the voyage in 1854.
Frenchman Philippe Monnet's trimaran Elle et Vire missed Luhrs' mark by nine hours after needing a week to repair damage from a collision with an iceberg.
In addition to uncooperative winds, Kolesnikovs and Pettengill had to contend with a broken water maker, which converts salt water to fresh water, and damage to the cable that supports the Great American's 75-foot mast. The cable broke loose from the deck on May 18, but Pettingill was able to rig a makeshift chain link between the deck and the cable.
Greeting the yacht at the end of its $300,000 effort were the families of both men and Vern Vihlene, their shore contact.
''I am very nervous,'' said Kolesnikovs' 67-year-old mother, Velta. ''I was nervous for the whole trip. I light a candle for my son every night.''
''The worst time came when they lost the headstay a week ago,'' added his father, Roman, 79. ''He could have lost the mast and the boat, but everything is all right now. My son can do anything.''