52nd California Cup – The Big Boats Are Back!


After a hiatus last year, the California Cup competition came storming back with five new Pac52 Class speedsters on the starting line for this 52nd edition. Run over three days, concurrent with the Cal Race Week weekend, the eight-race series offered conditions ranging from 7 to 12 knots of wind, relatively flat seas on the ocean course off Venice Pier, and occasional sunshine dispelling the early morning June gloom.

The boats hail from far afield – San Diego YC, Newport Harbor YC, St. Francis YC, and even New York YC, and their fifteen-person crews came from across the U.S. and ‘down under’, as well. These racers are remarkable in many respects, featuring bold color schemes ranging from Manouch Moshayedi’s Lamborghini orange Rio, to Frank Slootman’s Mercedes silver Invisible Hand, to Austin and Gwen Fragomen’s shiny, all black Interlodge VI. Not to be outdone, one of the newest boats on the block, just built last year, Tom Holthus’ Bad Pak sports a bright blue hull. Most fun is David Team’s 007-themed Vesper, displaying swirling turquoise graphics on her hull and sails, capped off by the sail number – 52007.

Although limited to 52 feet overall, these racers have massive sail plans, with mainsails up to 1,100 square feet, jibs about 750 square feet, and asymmetrical spinnakers a whopping 3,000 square feet, all supported by a 75 foot mast. Keeping these boats upright are impossibly thin keels nearly 12 feet deep, supporting a four-ton bulb hanging off the bottom. Pac52s generate plenty of speed around the race course, finishing a typical two-lap, eight-mile windward/ leeward course in under an hour. Their VMG (Velocity Made Good, straight toward the mark) in 12 knots of wind is seven knots upwind and over nine knots downwind!

This Cal Cup featured incredibly close racing, often with two or more boats overlapped at the downwind finish. After eight races, only five points separated the top four boats, with Interlodge VI taking home the Cup (Not literally, the beautiful California Cup silver bowl trophy remains on display in the upstairs trophy case off the Fleet Room.) by one point over Vesper, which won the tiebreaker for second over Invisible Hand. At the conclusion of Sunday’s finale, the Pac52 Class Manager, Julie Servais, sent this message to our RC, “Thanks for a fantastic regatta. Racing doesn’t get better than that!”

This was the second stop on the 2018 Pac52 five-event championship circuit, and it was an honor to have been asked to be a host. They may be back for Cal Cup next year, their travelling schedules permitting. Regardless, our member volunteers and spectators will remember these radical but elegant racing machines carving up the waters of Santa Monica Bay.