Frank Slootman's Pac 52 Invisible Hand has completed a trifecta in the 1st offshore event in the boat's debut season, the SoCal 300. Monohull Line Honors, 1st in ORR Overall and 1st in ORR Div A! Pressure-drop.us caught up with Frank after completing the 245nm dash from Santa Barbara to San Diego, the last leg of the 2017 California Offshore Race Week.
PD) Your 1st offshore event in the PAC 52 and 1st in the Offshore configuration, How did the boat respond?
FS) It was great taking the boat off shore. You just don’t know what you are going to experience until you get there. For example, we wanted to make sure our sprit would hold up flying these large reaching sails off it in big breeze.
PD) We noticed a nice quiver of sails stacked on starboard as passed Santa Cruz Island, did those sails behave themselves and stay on board?
FS) We had a real opportunity to put our off shore sails to work, notable the R1 and R2 which were up most of the time. The Doyle sails performed very well in a variety of conditions.
PD) In the offshore config with the galley, nav station and head, how would you rate comfort level? Any surprises?
FS) We sailed without a head, but we had everything else, worked fine! Boat was still too wet down below, so we are working on that.
PD) It usually takes a day or three to get your sea legs, in this race you don't have that option, was shut eye achieved at all during the 1st night?
FS) Crew does need to rotate in and out to get sleep, or they can’t sail hard. We also have to learn to sail hard with only 4-5 on deck, even when it’s blowing hard with big sails up. This was all about getting prepared for Transpac so we adopted as much off that mode as we could.
PD) A couple years back, you donated the RP 63' ( Then Invisible Hand) to Orange Coast College. This regatta, she's back in the form of Azshou and from the tracker, your primary competition and looking to shadow your every move, was that sort of like having an old girlfriend show up at your wedding then tailing you about on your honeymoon?
FS) I am very fond of that boat and happy to see her being campaigned out there. You can see the issue though: even though she is 11 feet longer with almost twice the sail area, she is pretty much on-par boat-for-boat performance-wise, and she owes the 52 a ton of time on handicap.
PD) Any special satisfaction pulling out the victory over Aszhou or the 70’s?
FS) We were happy to have the competition so close as it made us sail harder compared to being out there on your own, which we would have been without them. They were clearly energized by our presence as well.
PD) Your Ace in the hole, Gavin Brady was on board, please elaborate on what Gavin brings to the table?
FS Gavin has signed on to our program for the balance of 2017 and 2018, and we’re super excited about gaining the benefit of his extraordinary experience on this platform and general sailing talent. He is very clear thinker, purposeful in all that he does, always calm under fire. Frankly, Gavin will forget more about sailing than I will ever know
PD) Light air at start, medium to heavy air overnight, REALLY light air finish, the team stuck it out and won, any words for the crew?
FS) It was blowing mid-high twenties once we got through the islands, with a substantial seaway, all through early morning. The balance of the race was light, 3-5 knots of breeze occasionally spiking to high single digits. We were searching for pressure the entire day, and keep the boat moving from one patch to another. The boat does well in the light and sketchy, we didn’t get stuck much, or for very long.
PD) Sail selection during the event?
FS) The R1 was the money sail. In the very light airs, it works better than our nylon sails, and it can handle quite a range of conditions. We spent many hours blast reaching with the R2 up, and the boat hitting low-mid 20s boat speed consistently. Very wet, boat was on a furious tear on those angles with that sail up.
PD) Any chinese fire drills?
FS) We had to put a reef in while it was blowing mid 20s in big seas to unload the rudder. Didn’t seem to slow down the beast one bit, but were able to keep the boat on her feet better.
PD) IH now does the NHYC offshore event then LBRW... Will she remain in offshore mode for that?
FS) No, she goes back to inshore mode for these two regattas. That’s the whole point behind the Pac52 concept, that you can mix it up and sail both inshore and off shore from one event to another, very different configurations, mind sets and sailing styles.
Thank you Frank!