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Sailboat Entering California Stretch in NY-SF Speed Record Race

February 9, 1989

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Thursday’s Child, a sloop on pace to smash the 135-year New York-San Francisco sailing record, did not have far to go as it entered waters off Southern California today.

The modern three-man, 60-foot racing yacht was seeking to beat the record of 89 days and eight hours for the 14,500-mile journey around treacherous Cape Horn at the tip of South America. Set in 1854 by the legendary three-masted clipper ship Flying Cloud, it is the oldest existing speed record.

Thursday’s Child was expected to reach the latitude of San Diego early today and was on target to enter San Francisco’s Golden Gate on Friday ″or Saturday morning at the latest,″ spokesman Tony Lush said Wednesday after a radio conference with the crew.

The vessel left New York Nov. 23 and must reach San Francisco by 2 a.m. PST on Feb. 21 to break the record. A Friday arrival would do that by 10 days.

The race is against what was called ″the liveliest creation of man,″ a clipper ship praised in its day as a thing ″of satisfying beauty ... absolutely fitted for the purpose it is designed to fill.″

The 225-foot Flying Cloud required 100 men to hoist 35 sails up its masts. Thursday’s Child is 165 feet shorter and has only two sails, but it boasts the latest in push-button satellite navigation equipment.

Courtney Hazelton, 32, a professional sailor, is its skipper. Owner-master Warren Luhrs, 44, and Lars Bergstrom, 54, who helped design the boat, also are aboard.

Lush said all were in good health with adequate water and food supplies.

Even a five-day interruption at the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic to repair damage from a below-waterline collision with an unknown object failed to knock the vessel off record pace.

The boat was enjoying unusual southeasterly winds of up to nearly 30 mph, according to weather forecaster Sharon Alden. She estimated the favorable winds would persist at least another day.

The prevailing wind along the West Coast is from the northwest, which slows northbound sailboats.

The Flying Cloud was one of the class of clipper ships whose development was spurred by the California and Australian gold rushes and the China tea trade. Their nickname is believed to derive from the phrase ″going at a clip.″

Five other sailboats have been sunk since 1982 while trying to navigate the chaotic waters and stiff winds at the tip of South America.

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