Joining the “Core Four”, Manouch Moshayedi’s RIO, Victor Wild’s FOX, Tom Holthus’s BadPak and Frank Slootman’s Invisible Hand were Team Interlodge owned by Gwen & Austin Fragomen all the way from Newport, Rhode Island.
Wind conditions ranged from mild to wild, with race one, a double sausage affair, beginning in a pleasant 12-15. Interlodge would claim the right side of the course with the core four going left, it would seem the local knowledge would prevail on the 1 st leg with the tight top rounding going IH, RIO, FOX, BP then INT… But Interlodge would show her chops with some downwind speed and pass through the leeward gate in 3rd. They would maintain that position through the race and take 3rd, with The Hand, now loaded with former Beau Geste crew, demonstrating their new found
swagger taking the bullet, RIO with Mike Menninger calling tactics in 2nd and very close behind BadPak and FOX.
Race two would see a slight shift and increase in pressure at the start, with the RC stretching the double sausage to 2 miles per leg. As they rounded the weather mark in freshening breeze now in the 18-20 range, the order would be RIO, BadPak, INT, IH then FOX. However Interlodge and FOX would hit the gas and jump to the lead at the bottom. And would not relent that lead through the next two legs and finish the most exciting race of the day, with all boats hitting near top hull speed, and Interlodge edging out the revamped FOX for their 1 st west coast bullet, and Bad Pak just nipping IH at the gate with RIO running sweep.
The conditions would moderate yet again for race 3, a 5 leg sausage that saw a big shift to the right and winds weakening on the course to the low teens at the start. The projected offshores looked like they would prevail, even though the left side appeared to have better winds. It was a tossup, and even though the RC had reduced course length and moved the weather mark tremendously to the right, the fleet split. “We took a big gamble and it payed off”, said Frank Slootman after the race, “Really, it could have gone either way”. As it happens, The Hand went right very early, with FOX following shortly thereafter, the other 3 taking the left side. FOX seem to find a hole and IH found a lift. The Hand would get a big lead at the weather mark and never look back. RIO, BadPak and Interlodge would round from the left and then stay on the left going down, grabbing what breeze they could in what was now sub 10 knots and fading.
Invisible Hand would earn its second bullet of the day, a proud moment especially for Gavin Brady, who had enlisted the talents of his 14 year old daughter Carrington to sail with the Kiwi heavy Hand crew. RIO would follow in 2 nd and BadPak 3 rd for the last race of the day. But mother nature was not done with her surprises, and after making the 52’s eek out that last leg, she
decided to throw the fan onto extra high for the ride back in with winds from the NW barreling off Point Loma in the high 20’s to perhaps 30, just for giggles…
The 2018 PAC 52 Season Series is just getting started, the boats are more refined, the crews are sailing tighter, additional teams will join along the way, it’s looking to be a great one…