Published: Friday, 24 July 2015

The Los Angeles, California to Honolulu, Hawaii Transpac Yacht Race is set to finish over the coming days.

Transpac Racers Face Trash As Race Concludes

(Photo: Sharon Green/Ultimate Sailing)

The three fleets, with their staggered starts (July 13,16,18), have begun to converge into two over the past few days of the 2,225-mile ocean race.

Besides the atypical weather in this year's Transpac, another element that is starting to appear for everyone is more disturbing: floating debris. Many boats are reporting sightings of floating objects of many varied types and sizes.

Transpac Racers Face Trash As Race Concludes 1

"The winds have been unbelievably fickle, but making the situation even more demanding now is this massive field of debris we've sailed into,” says Crewmember of Wild Oats IX Roy Disney. “We are seeing at least three bits of junk every minute - timber, fishing nets, plastic, poles that have broken away from commercial fishing nets; you name it, and it's probably here.”

"It's so bad that we have a man stationed permanently on the foredeck to alert the helmsman of anything we might hit,” says Disney. “That's our problem right now, but it will be even tougher when it's dark.”

This problem of the debris in the North Pacific has prompted a major project based in the Netherlands that is pledged to help clean up this trash: The Ocean Cleanup.

Transpac Racers Face Trash As Race Concludes 2

(Debris onboard OEX)

Partnering with Transpac 2015, The Ocean Cleanup has organized a major data collecting exercise called The Mega Expedition, where Transpac boats heading back to the mainland after the race will proceed along transit lanes aligned on lines of latitude and record what they see, as well as take samples.

This is being described as the largest scientific experiment in history, involving 36 boats returning to California and hundreds of participants on the project.

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(Great Pacific Garbage Patch)

The Ocean Cleanup will use this data to help design its floating boom apparatus that will help collect the trash for later disposal.

For more information about this project, visit