Fujin Invades the East Coast

We are very lucky to get some reports from Brad Baker onboard Greg Slyngstad’s Fujin in the NYYC Multihull Regatta. Designer Paul Bieker’s post on the design has been one of the most popular pieces on sailing.com in recent weeks, and with good reason. A lot of thought has gone into this design that serves as both a cruiser and impressive racer, and Bieker gives us some keen insight. But back to the matters at hand, Brad is a renown navigator but a newbie to catamarans. We’re counting on the Northwest crew no doubt to be in the thick of things. Here’s Brad’s report from the start of day 2: 

2017 NYYC Multihull Regatta

The first day of sailing is now finished, at the 2017 IRC East Coast Championships and 2017 NYYC Multihull Regatta.  I’m aboard Fujin a Paul Bieker designed 53 foot “cruising” catamaran.  Yeah, right, “cruising!”  It’s a cruising cat if you like to go upwind flying a hull at 14 knots with boat speeds at over 20 knots.  We are racing against 6 Gunboat cats and a new HH 66 cat. 

My wife PJ and I arrived late on Monday. Tuesday was a practice day and a big eye opener as to what it is like to sail on a very fast catamaran.  Designer Paul Bieker knows all about designing fast boats with a long succession of performance oriented revolutionary racer cruising monohulls. Fujin is Paul’s first shot at a catamaran, and as far as I can tell he hit a home run! To better understand Paul’s genius, his second catamaran design was the Americas Cup 50 for Oracle. 

It’s currently the second day of racing. We are currently postponed and at the dock. A perfect time to fire off a race update! Yesterday’s forecast was for light to moderate winds out of the S to SW, with a reasonable chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon. The reality was heavy fog in the morning with very little wind. The race ended up being postponed for about three hours. The NYYC race committee did a nice job finding wind on the bay. Though we shared a starting line with the IRC fleet our race, we sailed different courses, with the IRC boats doing shorter buoy races while the multis sailed a “Navigator’s Race” which turned out to be a race around Prudence Island. The course length was about 17 NM.

It was an upwind start in about 14 knots of breeze with higher gusts. It was impressive to see 7 other big powerful and very fast cats on the start line. We started nearer the pin with a highly modified Gunboat 62 named Elvis winning the pin just below us. My job was main trimmer. All I can say is thank goodness for electric winches. The loads on the powered up cats are surprisingly high. Fujin is the smallest of the catamarans at 53 feet. The size range in the fleet is 53’ up to 66’.  Fujin might be the smallest, but she is one of the fastest, being nearly half the weight of the Gunboats and a radically different design, which includes C shaped foils.  The foils don’t completely lift the boat out of the water, but they do provide lift and reduce the wetted surface.  In 14 knots of wind we were achieving 14 knots of boatspeed upwind. The race quickly turned into a match race between Elvis and Fujin, with Elvis leading around the first mark on the south side of Prudence Island.

Fujin is sailing with a very talented all Pacific NW crew, with the bonus of having her designer Paul Bieker on board along with his son Leo.  We work the boat hard and shook out the first race jitters.  About 1/3 of the way around the island we managed to pass Elvis going downwind on a shift and legged out on a short reaching leg around the top. Our top speed was 22 knots. Keep in mind I don’t think the wind speed exceeded 16 knots. Though the wind got shifty at the end, we managed to hang on and stay ahead of Elvis to save our time for the win. The wind and sun held for the entire race, which took us maybe an hour and a half to complete. The intention was to complete two races, but with the late start the committee decided to call it a day. I learned a lot on that first race, but have a ways to go. These fast cats are a different animal, but super fun!

 After racing, the multi crews gathered at the New York Yacht Club Newport outstation. Cognizant of dress codes I made sure to wear a collared shirt and did not wear jeans.  The Fujin crews rubbed shoulders with the likes of Cam Lewis and Nigel Irens. Not to be out done, we had our own rock star yacht designer Paul Bieker along with his son Leo.

 The forecast for today is for light winds from the south in the morning. A cold front is forecast to make it’s way south probably crossing the race course sometime between 1300 and 1400. The wind should make a switch to the North and the temp will drop 10 to 15 degrees. Oh, and there might be strong thunderstorm activity. Should be interesting! 

 Update, the AP flag has been lowered, game on!

Ed. Note: Brad Baker is an owner at Swiftsure Yachts in Seattle. Hopefully we can hear more about this regatta and, fingers crossed, our PNW crew can make it’s mark. 

Kurt grew up racing and cruising in the Midwest, and has raced Lasers since the late 1970s. He has been Assistant Editor at Sailing Magazine and a short stint as Editor of Northwest Yachting. Through Meadow Point Publishing he handles various marketing duties for smaller local companies. He currently is partners on a C&C 36 which he cruises throughout the Northwest. He's married to the amazing Abby and is father to Ian and Gabe.

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