The west coast’s biggest warhorse

sailing-mag

the west coast’s biggest warhorse hugo boss dismasts One of the hottest, sexiest new West Coast boats is also the biggest. Watch out, ecause Rio100 is coming to town — Newport Harbor to be exact. If you followed  he Rolex Sydney Hobart race in December, you probably know that she was one of four 100-footers.

Built by Bakewell-White in 2003, RIO 100 had raced in that event previously in her original 98-ft confi guration, variously named Lahana, Konica Minolta, and Zana.

Early last year, Manouch Moshayedi of Corona del Mar purchased Lahana in Australia and delivered her to Cookson’s Yachts in New Zealand for a complete refit with the goal of creating a boat that would be suitable for and competitive in West Coast ocean racing, and which would qualify for the  trophy.

Manoush Moshayedi is the founder and former CEO and chairman of sTec, Inc., a computer data storage company with locations in Silicon Valley and Southern California. In  2013, the company was bought by Irvine-based West Digital.

When we checked in with him in January, Manoush explained:

“The boat used to have water ballast, and we removed the back half of the boat,  which had all the water ballast, and rebuilt the boat without it and without a canting keel, to qualify for the Barn Door.

So the boat has been purpose-built for the Barn Door. We are also looking to break the monohull record on a boat without the use of stored power. Wild Oats XI is also participating in the Transpac, but that boat has a canting keel, water ballast, DSS lifting boards and all-electric and mechanical winch systems.

This boat will get to Hawaii first, but it certainly is not a monohull in a traditional sense of the word.” Brett Bakewell-White redeveloped and modernized the design of Rio100. A crew of 20-25 people worked on the refit seven days a week for nine months.

She now sports a wider, longer stern, a longer boom and a longer bowsprit. The helm stations were moved aft, and Rio100 is now 6-7 tons lighter than was Lahana. Her winches are all manual.

A new engine was installed with a new lifting prop, and a new lifting keel (from 19 to 14 feet) will facilitate entry into at least some West Coast marinas.

Rio100’s first race was New Zealand’s 230-mile Yates Cup in November, and she won it. Her second race was the 628- mile Rolex Sydney Hobart, which started on Boxing Day, December 26, in Sydney Harbour.

Rio100 performed very well,” said Manouch Moshayedi about the Australian race. “Our primary goals were to get off the start line cleanly and make it to Hobart in one iece. The fact that we were in contention for third place up until a couple of  ours before the finish was icing on the cake.We were still very happy with our fourth-place finish just 11 minutes behind the third-place finisher, Ragamuffin 100, which is a canting-keel boat with water ballast and a much larger sail plan.

The crew saw 35 knots on the nose the first night, triple zeros the next morning, then 35 knots from behind, followed by triple zeros again.

The only low point was when we parked at the head of the Derwent River and waited for Ragamuffin 100, said Moshayedi.

Aboard for the Sydney Hobart were skipper Moshayedi, navigator Peter Isler, tactician Gavin Brady, boat captain Keith Kilpatrick, Jeff Mesaano, Mike Howard, Mike Van Dyke, Mike Pentecost, Mike Mottl, Peter Van Niekerk, Alastair Campbell, Brad Ferrand, Duncan Macleod, Nick Partridge, Steve Kemp, Julian Freeman, Tyler Wolk, Bill Jenkins, Nick Vindin, San Franciscan Joe Penrod, Sean ‘Doogie’ Couvreux and Morgan Gutenkunst. The latter two sailed as youth in the Bay Area.

Gutenkunst had raced with Moshayedi on his TP52 Rio, so when Rio100 was ready to go, he got the call to be one of the lead bowmen. “The Sydney Hobart has always been on my list of races to do,” said Gutenkunst. “The start in Sydney Harbour with all of the boats, media, and spectators was incredible. I also really enjoyed rounding Tasman Island — the cliffs did not disappoint.

“There is so much excitement about the race in Sydney,” said Manoush Moshayedi. “Everyone knew about the race. When you arrive in Hobart, there is a warm welcome from the locals. I had never seen this type of a reception around a sailboat race.” Rio100 has been pulled apart again for loading onto a ship bound from Sydney to San Pedro. The boat will live on its cradle at the Windward yard in Marina del Rey.

 

Rio 100 – Sydney to Hobart

The seaway south of Sydney is ugly in a southerly. Some will tell you that this is because of the south-bound current running up to 3 knots, but I think it is because this ocean is just like everything else in Australia: both breathtakingly beautiful and fully committed to killing you.

Right about 4pm on December 26th, this seaway was bad and getting worse. The call came up the rail to change down to the J5. I looked up towards the bow and a few things immediately sprung into my mind: (a) from where i was hiking, 3rd back from the front of the rail, the bow was at least 55 feet away, and (b) it sure seemed to spend 90% of the time submerged in green water. This was definitely going to get interesting.

December 26th. Boxing day. When I was a little kid, this was a truly special occasion: unencumbered by the endless pre-christmas waiting and painfully good behaviour, one could finally get down to business and play with new toys.

This December 26th, 2014, was a similar special occasion of a more grown-up sort: the Rolex Sydney to Hobart Race, on Manouch Moshayedi’s brand new toy – the Rio 100.

rio100-manouch

After a successful season on the European TP52 circuit, I think Manouch wanted to get down to the most serious business a west coast sailor can contemplate: an attack on the Transpac Barn Door trophy. Working with Keith Kilpatrick and Gavin Brady, Manouch came up with the idea for the maximum length, yet fixed-keeled and fully human powered, Rio 100.

Rio 100 was launched a few months back and promptly won the Yates Cup in New Zealand. Following this auspicious debut, Manouch, ever ambitious, entered her in “the classic.”

Clearly, this was a bold move. Optimized for light to moderate running on the long clean waves of the pacific, Rio 100 was taking a step out of her element by challenging the notoriously violent and all-wind-angles Hobart race course. Not to mention the 4 other super-maxi 100 footers each equipped with canting keels.

rio100-manouch

Manouch assembled an international team comprised of Americans, Australians, Kiwis, Dutch, and British. We were 22 strong on the water, and I have to immediately point out that to a man they were all professional, competent, and committed to getting the most out of the Rio. I don’t have time to talk about everybody by name- but that’s a little taste of life on board the super maxi, you don’t see guys who aren’t in your area all that much.

The leadership team comprised of Manouch as skipper, Gavin Brady as strategist/tactician, and Peter Isler as navigator. Peter van Neikerk and Mike Mottl stood tall as watch captains. From a bowman’s perspective it is a very big deal to have guys this competent, accomplished, and talented calling the shots- each one of them knows what can be done and what is dangerous to attempt up front, and they took every step needed to protect us while we wrestled with the massive sails up front.

The middle of the boat was anchored by lead grinder Jeff Messano and “Big Mike” Howard along with Mike Van Dyke. These guys have the hearts of lions and besides blasting our sails into the sky, they fearlessly charged to the point to help us out when we got into trouble.

I was proud to back up two of the best bow guys in the game: Sean “Doogie” Couvreau and Morgan Gutenkunst. With me on the mid bow was Tyler Wolk, an up-and-coming pro bowman from newport beach. Along with Alistair Campbell and Mike Pentacost in the pit, we had a solid team with which to do the wild work that was called for on deck.

The thing about just about every job on the super maxi is that tasks you would normally do with one hand on a yacht race instead take 2 people to accomplish… When you are attempting an upper-range jib change on the first afternoon of the race, this is a lesson that slaps you across the face, repeatedly.

As the grinders ground the J4 down to the deck, i washed about the mid bow like a rag doll- fists clutched around spectra taffeta, floating in a sea of foam, sailcloth, and fellow sailors. I hit the end of my tether at least four or five times in the first minute alone. I could barely see on account of the spindrift blasting in a constant stream over the rail, and for a moment i started to question whether this was something that could actually be done.

But as I mentioned- our leadership team was impeccable and our middle of the boat courageous and supportive. Gavin turned the boat off of the wind so we could gain control, and the grinders rushed the bow, bringing 6-8 hands to bear on the jib. We got her back to the rail, into a bag, and down below.

As I gathered my nerves on the rail, i was soaked to the bone, battered and bruised, physically exhausted, and only 60 miles into a 600+ mile race.

Things had escalated rather quickly.

Manouch Mochayedi Leads RIO to Victory

The race started at 10am Friday morning outside the Royal Akarana Yacht Club in a light nor-wester and warm conditions.

manouch moshayedi
Manouch Moshayedi

Owner Manouch Moshayedi assembled a cracking team of American sailors and a few Kiwi ring-ins to fill some spots. Most notably, 2 times America’s Cup winner Peter Isler (USA) was on board as Navigator with local boy Mike ‘Moose’ Sanderson (NZL) as tactician.

LSD was asked to be on board for the race to capture the action and it was Buoy who was lucky enough to get the ride. Daz was already on Beau Geste and Lissa was the eye in the sky buzzing the fleet with Phil Hart in his Ultralite.

rio-100

Rio had a ‘sticky’ start to say the least ending up in an altercation with the RAYC Rear Commodore Sally Garrett on board Expedition Coppelia. But after some quick work and calm words by both crews, both boats were out of the blocks and away.

It did not take long for the 3 big boats to stretch their legs. Along side Rio100 on the race track were Karl Kwok’s ‘Beau Geste’ (Botin 80 – Gavin Brady was in charge in Karl’s absence) and RAYC member Jim Delagat’s ‘Giacomo’ (VO70). Both of whom would provide an excellent gauge on performance and competition across the 230nm course.

route

With the big A1 up and set around Rangitoto Light, Rio began to make use of her waterline length. It did not take long before Rio had the (monhull) lead and extended all the way to Cuvier Island chasing the only multihull in the fleet – Team Vodafone Sailing (ORMA 60) who were looking a little sticky in the light conditions.

Rounding Channel Island and heading to Cuvier Island the boat sat comfortably on 17 knots of boat speed with around 12 knots true wind speed. Putting in several gybes to get down to our lay line to make Cuvier, the crew work looked impeccable and it was a privilege to be able to watch professional sailors do what they do best – sail!

Beau Geste had given the Poor Knights quite a large berth to try and avoid the fickle conditions. In turn they ended up a lot closer to the Northland Coast after rounding which let Rio slip through and slink her way out to a comfortable lead by Cape Rodney eventually building more boat speed with more pressure.

The sun popped up and warmed the crews backs as we passed Tiritiri Martangi Island in sight of the city and the finish. Beau Geste still of our stern which was a nice sight for everyone on board.

We crossed the line at 7.36am on Saturday morning and celebrated with a hand shake, a smile and a motor sail back up the harbour.

The boat is now into a few more days of practice while the crew from the states are still in Auckland before a delivery crew sail her across to Sydney for the end of the year must watch race – the ‘Sydney to Hobart’. Good Luck Rio! We will be following you!