Three regattas in to the inaugural season and the Pac 52's have seen three different winners. The latest event in the 5 regatta itinerary, Long Beach Race Week, which saw greater pressure on and off the course, and glorious sun and excellent sea conditions. As the season has progressed, the crews and boats have gone through a rapid learning curve, with some crew and gear changes, some lucky breaks and some very unlucky ones.
The Pac 52's were in a 4 boat dog fight by race end on Friday which continued into Saturday Morning. Manouch Mosheyedi had enlisted the talents of Chris Larson to call the shots on Rio and was well in the hunt until some unfortunate structural issues developed in bow involving the jib lead ring and they were once again force to pull out of competition.
With just 3 boats on the course, it came down to a shootout between Bad Pak and Invisible Hand, which was all tied up 10-10 after 6 races with one race to go. Something had to give...
Here's a few Q& A's with the owners:
Tom Holthus, Bad Pak Owner
Pressure-Drop.us (PD):Three different series, 3 different series winners, how do you assess the the season thus far?
Tom Holthus (TH): The Pac52 class is very competitive with no one boat controlling. It is exciting to see the change of positions in the regattas as well as individual races.
PD: It could not have been closer today with with Bad Pak coming into today's sailing 1 point behind Invisible Hand, tying things up in race 6 and then winning in the 7th by one point, what did you do today that was better than Saturday?
TH: We knew going into Sunday racing that we had to beat the Invisible Hand in both races. They were really fast on Saturday and we just could not keep up. Bruce Nelson and the crew put it together today and we had fast upwind legs. There was slightly more breeze today and maybe that gave us an edge.
PD: Manouch Mosheydi's Rio suffered some structural bulkhead damage in race 3, and missed 4 races more yesterday day and today, otherwise things may have been even closer as Rio took the 1st race of this weeks event, any words of encouragement for the Rio crew, as we go into the midsummer class break?
TH: Rio won the first race on Friday and they won in San Diego. There is no question that they will be back and they will be very competitive.
PD: Bad Pak now moves into offshore mode and in less than 2 weeks, you and crew will be hurtling towards Hawaii, sailing in a very tough division one where you will square off against Invisible Hand again, but also Manouch's slightly bigger Rio 100, Merlin, and Comanche to name a few. Your thoughts and anticipation at this point?
TH: We look at our competition as being our sister ship, the Invisible Hand. We know Frank [Slootman] and Gavin Brady will give every last ounce of effort and it will be an eight or nine day battle. If both boats press each other we could have the possibility of correcting out over the bigger boats such as Rio and Comanche.
PD: The camaraderie and commingling between crews seems to be going strong in the fleet, as a family man, you must be more than happy to see that transpire, can you elaborate on your thoughts on the subject?
TH: All the crews know each other and there is a lot of post race debrief with each other after a day of racing. We were protested by the Fox on Saturday. My kids who are junior sailors thought it was awesome that I was taken to "the room" and wanted to know about every detail of the protest. There are no hard feelings and we are friends even after going through the process. All of us will help each other on the dock but when we get on the water we all want to win.
Frank Slootman, Invisible Hand Owner
PD: Your team sailed very well for the 2nd regatta in a row, but by the thinnest of margins, Tom Holthus and crew were able to take the stage victory after tying things up in race 6 today. Can you please give us a bit of insight on how you think they pulled it off?
FS: We have not closed the gap with them upwind in the higher wind ranges. We made some of that up as you could see from yesterday’s results when we won all three races, but today was breeze on. We will sort through it, all part of the fun! Has to do with rig tuning and sail modes. Kudos to Bad Pak, they fought very hard, it all came down to the last race, and the last gybe right in front of the finish line, they eked it out by one point, good for them.
PD: Invisible Hand had switched some sails out since the last regatta, can you give us some insight into that and the changes in tuning that ensued?
FS: We are quite fine with our offshore sails, but we’ve augmented our inshore class regatta sail program. We did not quite exploit all the opportunities allowed within the box rule, and we did not have the tried ’n true shapes for a 52 platform that the speed teams know how to trim to. To some degree you have to settle on known quantities, and not be a completely developmental program. Takes too long to mature and sail well. Besides, the 52 is in a league of its own in terms of the depth of sail development that has gone on in that class for many years. All the boats are getting faster with each regatta, so the trick is to get fast faster than the competition.
PD: Manouch [Moshaydei, Rio] had another setback and missed a majority of the event as a result, yet they got a bullet in the 1st race. Any words or encouragement for the Rio crew?
FS: Rio is a very good boat, they proved that in San Diego. They were also sailing well here in Long Beach before they ran into some issues. They will be back.
PD: Transpac due up next with a match race vs Bad Pak and some other heavyweights in DIV 1, what are your thoughts looking at the weather window and anticipation of what lays ahead?
FS: We are psyched about Transpac, these boats love the reaching and VMG running with breeze on. Having our sister-ship in the race will turn this into 2,500 mile match race! We have done well so far offshore, and we have good speed down wind, so we expect to sail well.
PD: You assessment of the 3 Pac 52 regattas thus far looking back?
FS: It’s a very competitive class: we’ve had three class regattas this year, and each was won by a different boat.
Manouch Moshayedi, Rio Owner
PD: Sorry to hear of the additional trouble Rio is experiencing. We will be posting a report on the 52's at LBRW and would be keen on getting your perspective on how things were going prior to
the issues and what the current issue is... Disappointing for you I must imagine.
MM: Thanks for reaching out. We had a very good day on Friday but a bulkhead that our Jib control was attached to broke a few minutes after the starts on Saturday. All and all I think LBRW is a great event, LBYC does a great job of hosting the sailors and the courses are great.
It's also almost guaranteed that the competitors will have at least 10-12 knots of wind. We saw some new interest in the class during this event and you'd never know, others might want to join our class next year.
The Pac 52 Class now takes a break from the buoy chasing events, and will reconvene in mid September for the Big Boat Series where Beau Geste will join in for a 5 boat class with their own division. Gavin Brady will step off Invisible Hand and rejoin his mates and Karl Kwok aboard his old steed and competition should increase along with the wind speed. The season wraps up 2 weeks later with the Pac 52 Cup also in San Francisco!