Tom Holthus and Frank Slootman are fresh off a battle for supremecy in the latest Pac52 Class event at Long Beach Race Week, where Bad Pak pulled out a one point win over Invisible Hand. The Pac52 Class is in their inaugural racing season on the west coast racing in events from San Diego to San Francisco throughout 2017, with some non-class offshore racing in between.
Next up for Bad Pak and Invisible Hand is the race to Honolulu where they'll be competing with the monohull heavyweights in Division 1. Fellow Pac52 owner Manouch Moshayedi will be racing Rio 100 in leiu of his Pac52, but will also be racing in Division 1.
Invisible Hand was First in Class and First Overall in their recent offshore race, the SoCal 300 in May.
Frank Slootman and Tom Holthus shared their experiences with the new Pac52 and how it transitions from buoy racing formation to offshore racing formation.
Frank Slootman: "The idea behind the Pac52 class was that we would compete inshore as well as off shore. Tom [Holthus] and I designed and built our boats to be able to do that. Our boats are sister ships, they were built in sequence from the same molds at Cookson in NZL. We have the same Hall rigs. So, this will be a 2,250 nautical mile match race of sorts!"
Tom Holthus: "Both Invisible Hand and Bad Pak went with a slightly higher freeboard than the other Pac52s and the more recent TP 52s so we could do offshore racing. This was done to keep it dryer on the deck and to give us more room below. It hasn't proven to be a disadvantage on buoy racing yet but it should be better for us to do the offshore racing. I agree with Frank that it will be a match race with both teams pushing each other to the end. There is nothing like great competition to make you work harder."
The Pac52s will be racing in Division 1, against Aszhou (RP 63), Comanche (Super Maxi 100), Kinetic V (TP 52), Medicine Man (Andrew 63), Rapid Transit (Antrim 49), Rio100 (Bakewell White 100), and Weddel (Grand Mistral OD).
FS: "Our boats will compete very well. The Invisible Hand sailed in one off shore race this year, the SoCal 300, in which we won line honors, class and overall, and it was clear that these boats are going to be a menace offshore. Between the two of us, the one who beats the other will likely reach the upper echelon of standings in our division and overall."
FS: "The ‘remoding’ for offshore is a serious effort. Invisible Hand has to swap the tiller for wheels, put on all our safety and communications gear, water maker, galley, head, bunks, storage etc. We will get better shifting gears as we do it more, but it’s quite an undertaking coming from an inshore schedule in which the boats are stripped down below. We only have 10 days to do it, that’s not a lot of time including testing and troubleshooting. We were not sailing with max weight in the keel which was a disadvantage for inshore, but made it easier to set up for Transpac where we don’t want the extra righting moment.
TH: "We only have the wheel so there was no change from a tiller. Otherwise it will take us about 60 man hours to do the conversion to get into offshore mode. We will be ready."
FS: "We will sail with 10 crew which is a small number for such a demanding boat as only 4 will be on deck most of the time. We have carefully selected not just for skill, but also for endurance as this will be quite a physical challenge to keep this boat going as fast as she can go 24/7. You get to the upper wind ranges, these boats are on fire with the breeze aft. The big reaching sails will tremendous assets for these boats before we shift to A sails. Everybody on our boat is a veteran of Hawaii races - including Transpac."
TH: "Bad Pak is going with 10 crew as well. One of our crew is 12 year old Kelly Holthus. The 8 or 9 day race will be a battle and test everyone's limits. Except for Kelly, everyone has done many offshore races including many Transpac's. We have crew who have been on boats that have won the Barn Door, first corrected overall and many division wins. Hopefully the experience will benefit the Bad Pak in 2017."
FS: "Ironically, our previous RP 63 Invisible Hand will be in our division, she is now named Aszhou. We won our division sailing that boat in the 2013 Transpac. Even though she is 11 feet longer with almost twice the sail area [than the Pac52], it will be a boat for boat battle to see who crosses in front of the Diamond Head sea buoy first. We sailed against them in the SoCal 300, and it was a full on battle where eventually we beat them to the finish by about an hour or so after 30+ hours of racing. It is obviously more of a battle for them on corrected time."
TH: "The Pac52s should be fast but it will be hard to compete against the water length advantage of our prior boats in breeze. I am hopeful we will correct out on the other boats in our division, but if Frank and Invisible Hand push the Bad Pak team like I know he will, we may have a good chance of doing so. The Pac52 boats are racing machines. Ultimately it will be up to the crews."