Kaua‘i skipper has ‘moment’ during Transpac race

Mel Wills, operations manager and captain for Holoholo Charters, was among the eight-man crew aboard Horizon, which finished first in its division and first for corrected time in the Los Angeles, Calif., to Honolulu Transpac race.

Horizon, a 50-foot yacht of the sloop-rigged Santa Cruz class, finished the race seventh overall among a field of 53 entries which left Point Fermin near Los Angeles, July 8.

Wills, a longtime sailboat racer, was watch captain and primary driver and the only crew member from Hawai‘i, states a release from Margy Parker.

Wills, who has been a resident on Kaua‘i since 1995, said as watch captain and primary driver, his job was to work with the other watch captain and navigator to make tactical and strategic decisions about sail changes, course changes and on-deck situations.

The crossing from Point Fermin to the Diamond Head lighthouse buoy took Horizon,” based out of Dana Point, Calif.,  nine days, 23 hours, 58 minutes and 56 seconds.

A self-taught sailor, Wills, who said sailing comes naturally for him, spent his youth racing sailboats, working in the boating industry for most of his life, including North Sails and Hobie Cat Corp. His tour with Holoholo Charters spans the last 10 years  where sailing Holoholo’s  Leila  keeps his skills honed because the vessel is a highly technical, high speed vessel, considered one of the fastest sailing catamarans on Kaua‘i.

Wills’ primary training for the Transpac race was physical conditioning.

“There is not one most amazing thing about this race,” Wills said in a release. “There are days and days of it. Sailing down waves at freakish speeds day and night, knowing that one bad split-second decision could lead to the mast and sails becoming a pile of rubbish is one thing. Being able to sail faster and quicker than your competitors is another, and after being on the edge for nine days, 23 hours, 58 minutes and 56 seconds, when I came to the dock, leaned over the rail and kissed my wife — now, that was a moment!”

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