Fujin Wins on the Water But Loses the Tweak War

<em>Fujin</em> Wins on the Water But Loses the Tweak War
Fujin, in the background, giving chase to Elvis. Photo courtesy of NYYC and Stuart Streuli.

Here’s Brad Baker’s wrapup to the New York YC Multihull Regatta. It’s clear that Brad has found a new love in multihulls, but we’ll have to find out if he has any new thoughts on blue blazers. It’s also clear it was a fun regatta and Fujin had a great crew. No matter the handicap results, the Bieker design caught everybody’s attention, including the handicappers’. Here’s Brad:

Well, the regatta is in the books. I have some time to reflect on the experience as I wait for our plane here at the Providence airport. Since my last write up, we had two more lighter air races on Friday, a total bust with no racing on Saturday, a BBQ at NY Yacht Club, an awards ceremony, again at NYYC and a bit of a rating controversy to boot.

We had two races Friday. The forecast was for lighter N to NW winds in the 5-10 knot range. The committee elected to take us outside of the bay. The one design Swan 42 class sailed from a different starting line a bit further east while the IRC fleets and the multihull fleet shared a starting line. Other than a brief shot of winds in the 14-knot range, wind speeds generally stayed in the 7-11 knot range. These powered up light weight cats still move at a pretty good clip in these wind speeds, but after sailing at speeds ranging from 12 – 16 knots upwind, doing speed mostly in the 8-knot range Saturday was, well, underwhelming. Also, with the inherent stability of a cat you just don’t get the sensation of power and speed that you might on a monohull going the same speed. Faster is indeed more fun, especially on a high performance catamaran! 

We had a good start for the first race on Friday. In these conditions Fujin uses the code 0 for the upwind work.  Fujin’s boat speed is much closer matched to the Gunboats and the HH 66 in these conditions. The GB (Gunboat) 62 Elvis with her aggressively tall rig and powerful sailplan, really scoots in the 10 knots and under wind speeds.  Fujin, the HH66 Nala, and the GB 62 Elvis banged left while the rest of the fleet split right. With more pressure and a right hand shift the right paid. This was the first time in the regatta that we on Fujin didn’t round the first mark in either first or second place. A GB 60 named Fault Tolerant lead the fleet around the weather mark. That said, tactician Jonathan McKee aboard Fujin did a great job, we never gave up, kept the pedal pushed down and worked our way through the fleet to cross the finish line in second, after rounding the first mark in 5th

For the second race of the day we sailed in similar conditions. Fujin struggled in the lighter breeze, with all the taller rigs surrounding us at the starting line. It seemed to create a vacuum.  This combined with a last minute left hand shift and we nearly couldn’t cross the line, battling to stay above the pin. Elvis started clear and managed to jump out to an early lead.  Even with our struggles, Fujin’s start is best stated as second best. Jonathan sailed us smart and fast as we held off the rest of the fleet to round the first mark in second place behind Elvis. We maintained this position for the race as the rich got richer. Elvis was just too quick to catch in these conditions.  As it turned out this was the last race of the regatta. 

The wind refused to fill in, in a timely manner on Saturday, and the race committee made the call to abandon at about 2:30pm on Saturday. Of course the overcast cleared off 20 minutes later and the seabreeze filled, but that’s the way it always works, right?  The race was on!…. to the dock. We on Fujin had wisely covered the dock side of the course and led the fleet heading back to shore. Our nemesis, Elvis, motored quicker and was on our starboard hip as we entered the bay. It turns out they wanted to share some more of that rum they have on tap.   They tossed a bottle of rum and coke.  Great sports and great competitors!

Any time there are rating systems used there is typically controversy. This regatta was no exception. Initially, Fujin was scored with a 1st and a 2nd place for the final two races sailed. That put us with 1,1,1,2 for the regatta, for a solid win, but……….     the multihull fleet is using a performance/polar based system that actually rates the boats on the average true wind angle and average wind speed for each individual leg. The boats are asked to record their data during the race and send the data log file from the Expedition software to the rating organizers at the end of each day of racing. This is only the second regatta to use this new system. Some of the competitors felt that the polars being used to rate the boats wasn’t representative of the actual speeds achieved on the course, specifically for Fujin.  The decision was made to tweak the numbers. It’s still a bit unclear as to what was tweaked and how the new rating adjustments were achieved, but the end result was the 1,1,1,2 for Fujin turned into a 1,3,4,2. Interesting changes to say the least. With these finishes, Fujin ended up with a second place finish for the regatta. In my humble opinion, this second place result for Fujin was likely appropriate, as Elvis was probably the best sailed boat for the regatta. I am concerned that the tweaks over compensated for the disparities in rating. I know the organizers are working hard to make this very complicated rating system work. I hope that they can get it right, or close to right, to keep the racing fun and to appropriately reward the better sailed boats.

Overall this has been a great experience!  I got to sail with my wife for a week. The kids got to have the house to themselves for a week (hopefully they didn’t have any parties, or at the very least have done an excellent job of cleaning up if they did). Fujin’s owner Greg Slyngstad is a class act and a joy to sail with. The same is true for the rest of the crew, which included Jonathan McKee, Fritz Lanzinger, Erik Bentzen & Mike Leslie. I can’t say enough about the extremely talented boat captain(s) couple, Gina Borza and Andrew McCorquodale.  Gina runs a tight ship, which was very much appreciated and Andrew is a true pro. This was an entirely Pacific NW based crew and we represented our region well. Sailing aboard a high performance catamaran has been a big eye opener and I can’t help but think that sailing, both competition and cruising, is going to be seeing a lot more of these versatile, comfortable and fast two hulled vessels. I’m truly basking in the glow of this experience and eagerly await the next chance to do some more!

Brad Baker is an owner at Swiftsure Yachts, which sells (among it’s many lines) Outremer Catamarans.

Fujin Winning Tight Battle in Newport

<em>Fujin</em> Winning Tight Battle in Newport

Here’s a quick update from Fujin in the NYYC Multihull Regatta. It was an interesting day yesterday to say the least. We were again postponed for two hours at the dock. Again, the race committee did a good job finding a place to race where there was wind as we went north from Newport further into the bay. A northerly filled in shortly after we arrived at the racing area and quickly built to the higher teens by the time the race started.

Views from onboard.

We had a shorter windward-leeward type course this time around with a total distance of about nine miles. Our start was nearly identical to yesterday’s with us  starting nearer the pin end with Gunboat 62 Elvis ahead and below, the only boat closer to the pin. The race can only be described as really good fun!   I haven’t experienced anything quite like it. There’s something about sailing a 53-foot catamaran flying a hull going to  weather at speeds approaching 16 knots, with a 62-foot cat doing the same thing less than a boat length away. 

It was again a very tight race with Fujin and Elvis leading the way for the rest of the fleet. We are very closely matched in boat speed and swapped places a couple of times during the race. At these speeds laylines and mark roundings came quickly and we had to be on our toes and thinking ahead to the next maneuver. Our top speed on the second run was 26 knots!  Fujin barely hung on to correct over Elvis by a mere 15 seconds.

The race committee wisely chose to call it a day as strong thunder storms were heading our way. On the hour-long motor back to the dock it rained hard with plenty of lighting and thunder.  Evidently Elvis has rum on tap and they were kind enough to share, by mixing some in a 2-liter bottle with a bit of coke then the bottle over to us while under way. Little did they know that we were staying close to them on the assumption that any lighting would hit their taller mast not ours! 

The forecast is for rain near the starting time, but the breeze should be blowing enough to allow for an on time start.  Boat call is 0900 and it’s 0825 now.  Time to wrap it up.

Ed. Note: Thanks again Brad. Keep it going PNWers! Regatta web site here. Results so far are lovely.

Fujin Invades the East Coast

<em>Fujin</em> 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.