RIO100 SETS THE NEW MONOHULL COURSE RECORD

RIO100 SETS THE NEW MONOHULL COURSE RECORD
RIO100 SETS THE NEW MONOHULL COURSE RECORD

Congratulations to Manouch Moshayedi and the crew of 19 aboard Rio100, who set the monohull course record by completing the Vallarta Race course in 77.7 hours. Navigator Chris Branning checked in with SDYC prior to the race to make sure they knew what the record was, to set their strategy and make decisions to potentially eclipse the record.

The previous record was set in 2010 by Bill Turpin’s Akela at 80.87 hours. Rio100 managed to finish the race at 1900 local time, avoiding the Tuesday night light air that tends to set in on the approach to Banderas Bay.

Racing Rio

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In a world where boating is threatened by too many alternatives vying for our free time (and disposable dollar), there are those who persevere—and in the process help the sport not only grow, but thrive. This is the story of a man who, once he discovered sailing in his mid-thirties, quickly made up for lost time.

Manouch Moshayedi made his fortune in the Southern California tech world. A highly driven and accomplished man, Moshayedi is one of those people who seem to manufacture time. While channeling his endless energy into a very lucrative career, he looked around for something else he could get into.

Moshayedi was well into his fourth decade when he was first introduced to sailing by his father-in-law, Jost Von Kursell, who took him out and literally showed him the ropes. “I tried sailing,” Moshayedi told me, adding a trademark understatement: “It was good.”

From this small spark, Moshayedi caught the bug. and quickly acquired a succession of big boats: a McGregor 65, a Farr IMS 50, and a couple of Transpac 52s. “The most exciting part was going fast, and it still is.”

Talking on the patio of his Newport Beach, CA waterfront home, Moshayedi is very practical and understated when discussing his sailing accomplishments; it’s clear he mixes equal parts passion and control in all he does, traits that have served him well on the sailboat racing circuit. He tells tales of losing rudders in mid-race, and raves about the accelerated learning curves that professional racing crews make possible. It’s clear he enjoys the planning, control and coordination of big boat racing over the past 25 years of sailing.

rio 100

BARN DOOR TROPHY

In 2014, Moshayedi purchased a 2003 Bakewell-White 98 footer named Lahana and revamped it into the 100 foot speedster Rio. The refurbished boat came out of a New Zealand yard in late 2014 and headed straight to Sydney, Australia, for the start of the Sydney-Hobart Race—quite a shakedown cruise.

Moshayedi didn’t just spiff up an existing yacht to sail on the gentleman’s racing circuit. His goal was to create a boat purpose-built to win the elusive Barn Door trophy for the West Coast’s Transpacific Yacht Race, which takes sailors from Long Beach, California to Honolulu, Hawaii. Run in odd-numbered years since 1906, this is the grand dame of offshore Pacific Ocean racing.

To qualify for the Barn Door honor, boats must sail the 2225-mile race in the shortest elapsed time (first to finish) with only manually-powered systems—no stored power, no canting keel, no water ballast, no daggerboards, no electric winches, and no hydraulic rams. Rio sailed with a crew of 19. As soon as I mentioned the challenges of choreographing a racing crew that large, I wished I could take my words back. For anyone who steers a company of thousands of employees, managing a crew of less than 20 must be child’s play.

No matter how many crew aboard, sailing a hundred-footer at top speed for six days is no small feat. And although Rio won the race, she came in a few hours too late to set a new race record—partly because midway to Hawaii, the crew had to stop and back down to untangle a fishing net wrapped around the keel. Of course, that near-miss gives Moshayedi something to shoot for in two years, when the race is run again. In the meantime, he’ll have to be satisfied with the “salad bowl,” as he refers to it; the take-home trophy is a large bowl made of Koa wood, somewhat reminiscent of the large Koa plaque that serves as the perpetual trophy for Transpac Barn Door honors.

When I ask Moshayedi about his plans now that he’s won the coveted Barn Door, his answer is matter-of-fact. “Well, we’ll win this a few more times and break the elapsed time record.” Of course, what was I thinking?

THE SAILOR BEHIND THE SAILOR

Jost Von Kursell

At 90, Moshayedi’s father-in-law Jost von Kursell is a charming man filled to the brim with life stories, any one of which would qualify as a movie. Born in Estonia, Kursell was first introduced to sailing (like many of us) through his father. From the age of seven, he and his brother were perpetually on the water. Unfortunately, the family had to relocate; Kursell went to Germany and then after World War II emigrated to Peru.

As a young man, Kursell worked in a Peruvian copper mine owned by a wealthy uncle. Missing his childhood pastime of sailing, Kursell asked his uncle to help him secure a card for the local yacht club in Lima. On his first day there, he and an Italian friend talked their way into borrowing a boat for the afternoon.

unexpectedly, they won a club race that day and suddenly, everyone wanted to know about the “gringo” who was so good on a boat. While Kursell was changing back from his sailing duds, his Italian friend manufactured a story that Kursell was an Olympian, which was picked up by La Cronica, the local newspaper. “It was the best introduction to Peruvian society,” laughs Kursell. “Of course, none of it was true.”

When Peru’s politics began to look a bit dubious, Kursell relocated to Spain and settled in Madrid, where there was little by way of sailing. He got his fix every summer in Newport Beach, where the family went to escape Spain’s seasonal heat—and where he eventually taught Moshayedi to sail.

Even with a dozen or so racing trophies on his mantle, Kursell never considered himself a professional racer. Instead, he always enjoyed the sport for its subtleties. “There is so much mystery in sailing,” he says. “A slight adjustment here and there and everything changes. Figuring out how to get a bit more speed is an art.”

Kursell’s quite tickled by the knowledge that he had a hand in making Moshayedi into a high-caliber sailor—and that one of his dusty old trophies has been revived into a prestigious award. In fact his only regret is not saving the page from La Cronica that described the gringo and his winning afternoon at the yacht club.

It is sometimes a surprise where great feats begin and what gets their momentum started. Thanks to a sail with his father-in-flaw, Moshayedi went from weekend warrior to a sailing force to be reckoned with—while giving the world of sailboat racing a nudge in the process. In a boating industry where sailing accounts for only 10 percent of the market, the individuals who manage to make a mark and highlight the beauty of the sport are rare. Moshayedi’s beginnings may have been humble, but he’s certainly reached new heights since.

Oh yeah, and when Moshayedi isn’t on the deck of his 100-footer, he zooms around Newport on a Harbor 20, just for fun. Different horses for different courses, but always ready to ride.

RIO 100 WINS BARN DOOR TROPHY IN 48TH TRANSPAC

manouch-moshayedi-rioManouch Moshayedi’s Blakewell-White-designed, Kiwi-built Rio 100 sailed across the finish line, sailed by an international pro-am crew of 19 as the first monohull equipped with only manual-powered systems to sail the 2225-mile course in the shortest elapsed time.

Their finish time – at 3:30 PM Hawaii time – was several hours from breaking the current Barn Door record of 6D 19H 44M 28S set by Hap Fauth’s 74-foot Belle Mente back in 2011, but by all accounts this year’s difficult race weather was not favorable to many boats in the fleet, so Moshayedi was still pleased.

“We set out to win this trophy, and did, and it’s not too often that you can achieve these goals in ocean racing,” he said. “The boat and the team were fantastic, and its great to be a part of Transpac history. We look forward to coming back next time and breaking that record.”

Tactician Gavin Brady said he’s been on many successful offshore race teams, but this one was both well-coordinated and congenial, a feat not easy with 19 people, one of the largest crews in the race this year.

first-to-finish

“It sounds like a lot of people, but every one works, and works hard. This is a physical boat and all the effort that it takes trimming sails requires 8 guys at a time on the handles, so we had to have 19. This makes life on board a challenge, especially after a lot of days and the weather getting warmer each day. But everyone got a long really well, this was a great group of guys.”

There was one disturbing aspect of this race that had Brady incensed: trash. “There was so much floating debris out there, its hard to describe or comprehend,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like it. Maybe because the High was pushed north so we sailed this year into the waters where it is normally, but this is a great tragedy to have so much garbage out there.”

Brady said the team did many evasive maneuvers and once even a back-down to stop the boat and shed the keel of a fishing net.

“We’ve got to as racing sailors let everyone know about this,” he said, “because otherwise no one would believe it.”

Other finishers in the last 24 hours included Paul Stemler’s J/44 Patriot, who in Division 7 is a runner-up in corrected time to Harry Zanville’s Santa Cruz 37 Celerity, who is still leading overall in ORR corrected time scoring; Tracey Obert’s BBY 59-foot ketch Marjorie, the first to finish in Division 8; and Drew Belk’s Beneteau First 40 Precepts II. On the eastern horizon within range of the live 100-mile tracker and due to finish some time tonight or tomorrow morning are the following boats: Dave and Peter Askew’s R/P 74 Wizard, who as ex-Belle Mente still holds the Barn Door record and is currently leading Division 2 in corrected time; Ross Pearlman’sJeanneau 52 Between the Sheets in Division 8; Alex Farrell’s 1D35 Alpha Puppy in Division 7; Joel Young’sBeneteau 523 Transformer in Division 8; Sam and Willie Bell’s Lapworth 50 Westward; and Pat Benz’sGunboat 66 Extreme H2O, the first multihull to finish the race this year.