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February 27, 2017

Pac52 ‘Invisible Hand’ Hits the Bay

 Frank Slootman was a happy man after launching, sailing and christening the new Invisible Hand for the debut season of the Pac 52 class.  

©2017Latitude 38 Media, LLC

With the mid-February deliver of Frank Slootman’s all-carbon rocket ship Invisible Hand to San Francisco Bay, the dream of building a West Coast Pac52 fleet has taken giant step closer to becoming a reality. Built at Cookson’s in New Zealand and christened this weekend dockside at Svendsen’s Boat Yard, Slootman’s Judel/Vrolijk-designed Pac52 is the second of these box-rule 52s to take up residence on the West Coast — the first was Victor Wild’s Southern California-based Fox, which won her division in September’s Rolex Big Boat Series.

The goal, according to Slootman, is to bring back high-caliber, level-rating big-boat racing on the West Coast, so owners can compete "mano a mano" in both round-the-buoy races and offshore events. Two more boats will be delivered this spring, Manouch Moshayedi’s Rio52 and Tom Holthus’s Bad Pak, building the fleet to four by their season opener, San Diego Bay’s Yachting Cup, which celebrates its 45th edition May 5-7.

How do you know she’s all carbon?  Here’s an interior shot of the forward cabin. Seriously, that’s how it looks.    

©2017Latitude 38 Media, LLC

These all-carbon composite machines incorporate the latest in design and construction — there’s hardly an ounce of steel aboard anywhere; however some components are made of titanium, such as the gooseneck, which was made by 3D titanium printing rather than being machined from a block.  

It only seems fitting for the high-tech hub of California to have at least one cutting-edge class of boats to duel on local waters and inspire race fans to reach a higher level of competitiveness.

Just this morning, Slootman confirmed that he will enter Invisible Hand in this summer’s Transpac, according to his project manager Norman Davant. (Bad Pak is already signed up.)

Invisible Hand going fast to weather with a sheeting angle that looks like fractions of a degree. 

© 2017 Erik Simonson

Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that the not-too-distant cousin Vesper, a TP52, is for sale on the Bay. We’re told that with a few modifications, she could be competitive with the new Pac52. In any case, we can’t wait to see the new 52s out on the water. It’s going to be fun. 

Transpac Early Entry Deadline

Divisions 7 and 8 started off Point Fermin on July 16 in the 2015 Transpac.

© Bronny Daniels

The early-entry deadline for the 49th Transpacific Yacht Race is this coming Wednesday, March 1. After that, the price goes up. So far, 52 boats from nine countries have signed up for the race, which will depart Los Angeles for 2,225-mile-distant Honolulu on July 3-7.

Tom Holthus previously raced the STP 65 Bad Pak, seen here at the start of the 2015 Transpac.

© Bronny Daniels

Monohull entries range in size from Christopher Lemke’s Hobie 33 Dark Star to Manouch Moshayedi’s Bakewell-White 100 Rio100. Another entry of interest will be Tom Holthus’s brand-new, high-tech, carbon-fiber Pac52 Bad Pak. How will the Pac52 stack up against its antecedent, Bill Lee’s 1977 68-ft Merlin? The classic sled broke the Transpac record in ’77 and held it for 20 years. We’ll have more on Merlin, which was recommissioned yesterday in Santa Cruz, in a future report.

Santa Cruz Harbor’s D Dock was crowded with celebrants when Bill Lee’s beautiful Merlin was "recommissioned" yesterday.


Adding international flavor are entries from Russia, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Canada, Great Britain, Norway and Italy. Giovanni Soldini’s MOD70 trimaran Maserati has signed up and will have a match race with anticipated entry Phaedo3, another MOD70, owned by Lloyd Thornburg.

On March 4, LAYC will host a seminar titled Preparing for the Race of a Lifetime: Los Angeles to Hawaii. Experts will cover topics including an overview of the requirements in the Notice of Race and Sailing Instructions, preparing the boat and the crew, sail selection strategies, measurement and rating requirements, safety gear and inspection, crew selection, communications equipment and reporting protocols, and tips on gathering images.

"We urge first-time participants to attend," said Tom Trujillo of LAYC, "but both technology and our requirements change with the times, so race veterans are also welcome." Sign up for seminars at

85 Sail Changes in Two Days

Hal Fauth’s 72-ft Bella Mente, on the way to honors and a near record in sail changes, in the Caribbean 600. In previous seasons she’d been knocked out of Caribbean regattas by a dismasting and a keel box’s coming apart. 

© 2017 RORC Caribbean 600

In West Coast ocean racing, it’s not uncommon to set a chute and never take it down. Numerous times boats have gotten a day or two away from the California coast in the Pacific Cup or Transpac, set a chute, and left that chute up until crossing the respective finish lines on Oahu.

Not this year in the Caribbean 600, where the normal easterly trade winds gave way to a few strong squalls, lots of calms, and winds out of every direction.

Hap Fauth’s 72-ft Bella Menta, declared the overall winner, reported making 85 sail changes in just two days of racing. Eighty-five! Doña de Mallorca assumed that had to be a typo until her dear friend Lucky Poupon, who sailed on the Volvo 70 SFS, reported they’d made more than 100 sail changes.

With Bella Mente finishing in just two days, and Runaway in three days, one can only imagine how many sail changes were made on boats that were on the course for five days.

In other 600 news, Runaway, the old Andrews 70 Cheval with Tom Corkett Sr. and a number of other West Coast sailors, took third place, finishing in 3 days, 2 hours, 17 minutes.

After 10 straight days of rain, Kerry, Shirley (pictured here), Ruthie and Terena took the 42-ft one-off cutter Cetacea out to soak up some sunshine.
Conrad Colman finished the Vendée Globe today under jury rig with two biscuits to spare.