Editor’s note: In July of 2019, after 10 days on the race course, the Andrews 70 sloop Trader crossed the finish line in Hawaii to complete the 2019 Transpac Race. Trader’s race wasn’t a winning effort according to the official race results, but for “Team Trader” the completed race was a resounding success, the result of intensive planning and training of a team of 10 sailors, many of whom were military veterans with little or no offshore sailing experience. As Team Trader prepares to compete in the 2021 Transpac, 2019 race navigator Erik Burian, a retired U.S. Navy nuclear submarine commander, looks back on how the 2019 race effort came together and how Team Trader will approach this year’s race.
The 2019 Transpac effort started in the summer of 2018 when retired USMC Colonel Doug Pasnik and his wife Karen Fetzer hosted a group of sailors that regularly sailed with them aboard SY Trader, a 1993 Andrews 70, at their home in Kaneohe, Oahu. As skipper and owner of the boat, Doug announced his intention that night to enter the 2019 50th Transpac race the following summer. This was both a considerable leap into a major sailing endeavor and also what Pasnik viewed as the next logical step in the evolution of Team Trader.
In the nearly three years since that challenge to advance to the next level of blue water sailing, Trader has come a long way, in both sea miles and as a capable vessel for veteran outreach, a vehicle for veterans to mentor younger shipmates, and an expanding opportunity for rising women sailors.
Rescued from Hong Kong boatyard
In 2014, Pasnik located and rescued Trader from where she lay in disrepair in a boatyard in Aberdeen Harbor, Hong Kong. After relocating the boat to Oahu, several dozen people periodically sailed on Trader as their schedules and interest permitted, but it was a stretch to call that group a coherent team. Yet, with every social sail, the core group who would ultimately race in the Transpac started taking shape. Those few years were a vital period to understand what it would take to recruit and retain a reliable and consistent cadre of sailors who worked well together and had the confidence to take the big boat offshore in often challenging conditions.
Safely operating a 70-foot sailboat, with the sail area equivalent to the square footage of most people’s homes, in the open ocean conditions around the Hawaiian Islands requires a level of proficiency that only comes with regular training and getting genuine buy-in from a sufficient number of colleagues. This key element of building a core team is what continues to inspire former Marine aviator Pasnik.
Trader had a distinct advantage in creating sustainable and resilient teamwork from the very start. Through existing connections and social outreach, many in the group were either active duty military, veterans, military spouses, or one degree of separation from someone who was. This commonality of experience is reflected in the formally communicated “Trader Principles and Values.”
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IN 2019, MY HUSBAND, DOUG PASNIK, AND I RACED OUR first Transpac together with a team of 10 on our Andrews 70, Trader, comprised primarily of military veterans (see story on page 22). This year we are doing the race again and inviting four mentees from The Magenta Project to race with us.
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