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Two New Cats, Two Different Fates

Fujin snaps a selfie.

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Two very successful West Coast racing sailors — Greg Slyngstad of Sammamish, WA, and Bill Gibbs of Ventura, have been experiencing different fates with their new, very fast all-carbon cruising cats.

Slyngstad, who has enjoyed much success with monohulls such as his J/125 Hamachi on the West Coast, racing to Hawaii, and in the Caribbean, launched Fujin, his new 53-ft cat, in St. Croix in early June. She was designed by Paul Bieker of Seattle and built by Gold Coast Yachts of St. Croix. Although Gold Coast has built 117 boats, mostly large cats, this was their first all-carbon boat.

Greg Slyngstad’s new Paul Bieker-designed 53-ft Fujin.

©2015Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Although Fujin was still missing some sail controls, Slyngstad and crew took her out for the first time on June 6. In 14-16 knots of wind, they were soon flying a hull on the 16,000-lb boat and hit 22 knots. While not designed to foil, a few days later the cat hit 25 knots in 18 knots of wind.

An obviously-pleased Slyngstad, who will be racing his J/125 in the Transpac in July, plans on racing Fujin in next year’s Caribbean 600, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, and the Voiles de St. Barth.

Unfortunately, things haven’t gone nearly as well for Bill Gibbs, who has been smashing West Coast elapsed-time records for years with his 53-ft cat Afterburner. He purchased a partially-completed all-carbon Schionning-designed G Force 1400 fast cruising cat in South Africa a while back, and had her completed a few months ago. Ignoring Latitude’s suggestion to sail her to the Caribbean, Gibbs had the cat, named Wahoo, shipped to the Caribbean. Thank goodness he did.

Wahoo in Deshaies, Guadeloupe.

© 2015 Mark McNulty

A few days ago, Gibbs and three crew sailed out of Guadeloupe on the 44-footer. They got the loaded-down cat up to 19 knots, but before too long one of the rudders broke off. The boat’s autopilot then had trouble controlling the boat — until a while later the second rudder broke off! If you’re looking for a really rotten fate, losing both rudders in the Caribbean Sea would rank right up there.

Wahoo’s rudder post.

© 2015 Mark McNulty

The crew had no choice but to resort to ’steering’ using the two engines. Apparently one of the engines overheated from the abuse, blew an oil line, and may have seized.

The only good luck was that by then Gibbs and crew were close enough to be towed to port. But the troubles continued when the cat was slammed into a dock, apparently causing some damage to the carbon structure.

As it stands, Gibbs and crew are sorting out what happened and how to make repairs. A preliminary investigation suggests that the rudder fittings weren’t built to spec.

Here’s wishing Bill, a great guy, a swift comeback with his new boat.

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Lending Club 2 prepares for a fun sail in San Francisco. © 2015 Ronnie Simpson With the America’s Cup packing up shop and moving to Bermuda, there’s been a distinct lack of big, fast multihulls sailing the Bay on a regular basis.