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Dateline Marina Del Rey California

The waters off Venice Beach and the famed Muscle Beach just north of the Marina Del Rey harbor mouth never looked finer as they did today as the PAC52’s lined up for day one of the Cal Cup portion of the California Sailing Week hosted by the California Yacht Club.

Sunny skies and temps in the 70’s, winds out of the WNW in the 10-12 knot range and generally flat seas greeted the fleet as the began the 2nd outing of the 2018 PAC Cup season. With the greater LA mountains range in the distance, and Santa Monica, Malibu and the Santa Barbara Mountains providing a spectacular backdrop, the 5 boat fleet got to business in the early afternoon.

Just coming off a strong showing in San Diego, Frank Slootman’s Invisible Hand came in a bit of swagger, and last years season champions, Tom Holthus’s BadPak arrived with a desire to right the ship as it were, with determination to prove round one to be an aberration. New to the fleet, David Team’s Vesper, had shown solid speed and crew work earlier at the Midwinters in San Diego, Manouch Moshayedi’s RIO just looking for that finite piece to regather their steam while Austin Fragomen’s crew on Interlodge sought to do the boss man proud.

On a somber note, Austin had suffered a medical issue which forced him to return back his NYC home on Thursday, per doctor’s orders, but the team remained and would sail under the recently added Alternate Skipper Rule, meaning that, an approved by class replacement skipper, can substitute for the owner, but the yacht will take a one-point penalty for each race not helmed my owner. Insert Pete Must as that person, and the team soldiers on.

In race one, a tight battle to win the line, Interlodge gets the clearest air and the fleet accelerates up the 2 mile leg one of the 4 leg, double sausage course. After spreading out up the windward leg, Interlodge would round in 1st, followed closely by Vesper, BadPak , Rio then Invisible Hand. Still accessing the course, the fleet splits with Int, Rio & IH going left, BP & Vesper going right. The boats reconvene at the bottom in close fashion with a slight shuffle, and the boats all choose the right side for the next uphill leg. At the top Int has regained lead position followed in tight fashion by RIO, BP, Vesper and IH. The majority of boats go right with Vesper taking a left side flyer, and somewhere along the way, experience kite running rigging issues requiring a douse and gear inspection. They would finish under jib and main.  Getting their 1st 2point bullet, Interlodge is followed in by BP, RIO and IH then Vesper.

Race two commences shortly thereafter with a slight uptick in pressure, and fleet evenly split up the course for leg one. At the top, Int is 1st to round with BP, IH, Ves, and RIO nipping at her heels. The order of the 1st 3 would remain the same  at lower mark with boats splitting at bottom Int &Rio going left, Ves & IH going right and BP up the middle. Interlodge would lead another tight weather mark rounding with another slight shifting in the procession, all boats going right. As they hit the finish line, Int would get yet another 2 point bullet, IH in 2nd and Vesper taking 3rd.

The wind increased to 12-15knots with a shift to the left for day’s finale, and yet another flawless start. (There have been zero recalls this season) All boats not named Vesper go left. At the top, Invisible Hand has taken the lead, with BP, Int, Vesper and Rio in pursuit. All boats not named Vesper go right and the afternoon kite flying weather could not be better. A little too good on Interlodge actually as their backup chute has head issues, but crew has the replacement up before the damaged one can part, and absolute amazing feat to observe. At the lower mark The Hand has held her lead with BP, RIO and Vesper next, and Int in the unfamiliar sweep position. The tight racing would continue up the last weather leg, with the Hand still in command and Vesper now in 2nd followed by BP, Rio and Int.  The finish would be a clear victory for Invisible Hand with Vesper getting a 2-point deuce, and an incredibly tight trio of BP, INT & RIO squeezing through the gate with nearly an inch to spare, BP gets 3rd by a nose, RIO taking 4th and Interlodge gets a hard fought 6-point 5th.

Racing continues Saturday with 3 races scheduled!