by Jo Murray, Press-Telegram
Tritium — one of the most famous and fastest offshore vessels in the Pacific — sailed out of Alamitos Bay quietly, without fanfare on June 8 for a journey from California to her new home in Florida.
For years, the modified ORMA (Ocean Racing Multihull Association) 60-foot Trimaran, later stretched to 72 feet, seemed to be holding court as she was berthed near the entrance channel just past Alamitos Bay Landing. Her mast was towering and could be spotted from anywhere in the bay. Her beam of 61 feet gave her a bold presence.
Originally built by offshore racing legend Jean Le Cam, the vessel was modified by Artemis Racing for testing and training in preparation for America’s Cup racing. The composite hulled vessel competed in the 2013 Transpac, where she was First-to-Finish and had the fastest elapsed time.
She was owned since February 2013 by Long Beach restaurateur John Sangmeister, who was part of Dennis Conner’s winning America’s Cup team in 1987.
“I called it my mid-life crisis purchase. It costed me less than a Porsche and an affair would have,” he said, and added, “I have a very kind and patient wife.”
It was under Sangmeister’s ownership that the craft raced in the 2013 Transpacific Yacht Race, but she failed to break the race record set by Bruno Peyron in 1997 because of telephone poles and other debris that was floating in the Pacific as a result of the 2011 Great Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
“There were at least six major impacts we had with debris out there,” boat captain Ryan Breymaier in an interview after the race. “In all, I think we probably spent about 10 hours working with the damage on the board.”
Breymaier explained in that interview that the team had to hoist the board up out of the hull, assess the damage, then re-insert it because the water pressure at high boat speeds could create damage to the trunk. The board was even swapped end-for-end after one large impact, but then that end too was damaged from another impact.
“The severe damage from the six telephone poles that we experienced brought positive attention to the harm the tsunami caused and helped accelerate the clean-up efforts,” Sangmeister said…