Latitude just got off the phone with multihull designer/sailor Gino Morrelli of Newport Beach. He had just come off the helm of the 72-ft trimaran Tritium Lending Club, which is about halfway from Long Beach to Hawaii in hopes of setting an elapsed time record in the 47th TransPac. Here’s the gist of our conversation:
38: Are you guys still on a record pace?
Gino: Right now we’re about one hour off of it. We don’t need too much wind, but we’re hoping for a little more. We have about 12 to 14 knots of true wind right now at 135 degrees true, and we’re able to do 15 to 18 knots. We’re trying to sail as deep as possible. What we really need is about 14 to 18 knots of wind.
38: What’s the forecast for the rest of the way?
Gino: A little on the light side.
38: What’s the top speed so far?
Gino: I think Howie Hamlin hit over 30 knots the first night out.
38: Is Tritium Lending Club an easy boat to drive?
Gino: You have to be active when you drive, and it’s a bit physical because the boat has a bit of leeward helm, especially when sailing downwind. The leeward helm is probably mostly because of the big pole. We might put more rake in the mast in the future. But our left arms are all getting bigger. The challenge is to keep the apparent wind attached while sailing deep. Fortunately, the sea state is really flat.
38: Tritium Lending Club not a simple boat, is she?
Gino: No, she’s pretty challenging because she has so many bells and whistles. You can cant the rig, cant the (dagger)board, do all kinds of things. Sometimes you change something and find you’re going half a knot faster.
38: You’re still learning a lot about the boat?
Gino: Yes. Steve Fossett’s ORMA 60 Lakota was a lot more developed when I raced her to Hawaii. Tritium Lending Club owner John Sangmesiter has only owned this tri for six months, so we’re just starting to figure her out. Over time I think we’ll be able to get 10% better performance out of her.
38: You raced to Hawaii on Lakota. How does this heavily modified ORMA 60, stretched to 72 feet, compare?
Gino: Tritium Lending Club is a bit wider and a bit lighter, and because she has 12 more feet of bow and the canting board, you can really drive her hard. It would have been much easier to go over the handlebars with Lakota
38: Are you leaping over the waves in front of you?
Gino: Not right now. But it was kind of reachy the second day, and we were doing 24 and 25 knots while the waves were doing 18 knots. So you’d have to look for slots and drive the channels between the waves so you wouldn’t plow into the one in front of you. The waves were just a nuisance you had to drive around.
38: Any damage?
Gino: We hit a couple of logs yesterday. One bounced off the bobstay and then hit the front end of a daggerboard. It caused a delamination fracture and stuff was peeling off. So we had to take the board out, reverse it, and jam it back in. But I’ve never seen so many logs — six inches to a foot in diameter and about 12 feet long — on the way to Hawaii before.
38: Are you surprised that owner Lloyd Thornburg, skipper Paul Hand, and crew on the Gunboat 66 Phaedo that you and Pete Melvin designed was able to make 427 miles in 24 hours?
Gino: [Laughter.] I knew they were pushing it, but I didn’t know they did 427 miles before the top of their mast broke. That’s pretty good for a cruising boat. They were in Newport for about a month before the start of the race, so we were lucky enough to have the chance to become friends with them.
38: You’re halfway across. Is it warm yet?
Gino: We’re in light foul weather gear. Yes, it’s starting to get warm and there are fluffy white clouds.
38: Any last thoughts?
Gino: Eat more fish at Gladstone’s in Long Beach! (Tritium Lending Club owner John Sangmeister is the owner of Gladstone’s.)
38: Be safe and be fast!