Making Waves: Manouch On The New 52’s

Manouch and crew at the 2012 Big Boat Series. Image © Daniel Forster
Manouch and crew at the 2012 Big Boat Series.
Image © Daniel Forster

Manouch Moshayedi is the driving force behind the rejuvenation of the 52′ West Coast, having owned several boats bearing the Rio emblem, His enthusiasm for fast moving monohulls is contagious. Recent adventure with Rio 100′ has created a buzz in the offshore arena, and now Manouch is steering a group towards reintroduction of the 52′ Class, here on the West Coast where the whole concept was derived.

Manouch was gracious enough to provide us some insight into his previous sailing escapades and the new class which will be cited as the Pacific 52

PD: Manouch, you owned a TP 52 in years past named RIO that you campaigned up and down the West Coast, What can you tell us about Rio and the class at the time?

MM “At the time I had a 2007 TP52 (RIO) which we raced up and down the coast, there were several TP52s on the West Coast then but unfortunately they were all from different vintages and had to race under either IRC or PHRF handicap rating, even though it was fun, we never had the close racing that a class of similarly designed and vintage boats would have.

I later purchased a 2011 TP52 (RIO) which I campaigned in the SuperSeries in Key West, Miami and then in the Mediterranean, this was a different experience altogether, 8-12 similar boats on the line and very close racing where boats finished within seconds of each other, for me this type of racing was most challenging, fun and a great learning experience.”

PD: More recently you moved onto RIO 100 and have had some incredible adventures with her, some of your favorite moments?

MM: “After the SuperSeries, we decided to build Rio100, this is an incredible boat, very powerful, fast and for an ocean racer, quite comfortable.
We built the boat at Cookson’s in New Zealand who always does a fantastic job with their boats, raced the boat in Yates Cup in NZ in which we were the first monohull to cross the finish line and then took the boat to Sydney for the Sydney to Hobart race of 2014.

The start of the Sydney to Hobart race is something that has to be experienced, in exact contrast to the reception sailing gets here on the West Coast, S-H race is treated as an event that Sydney residence make a point of watching.

There are about a hundred boats participating in the race, there are at least ten times as many boats around the start line watching, there are thousands of people on the hills around Sydney Harbor in addition to multiple helicopters who are hovering above the racers.

Of course this was a lot of fun and one of the most favorite moments but we have had a great time racing this boat, last year during SoCal300 once we turned the corner around the islands, we had a period of a few hours that the knot meter stayed in the mid twenties, it was a great experience and I think most participants also felt the exhilaration during that race.”

2014 Yates Cup 'Rio 100'. Photos: © Brad Davies | Media
2014 Yates Cup ‘Rio 100’. Photos: © Brad Davies | Media

PD: You have been instrumental in getting the SoCal 300 up and rolling, and by all counts has been receiving rave reviews, what was your impetus to get that rolling?

MM “Owning a 100’ boat, you can’t participate in most races except for the long distance ones so knowing that we only have two races a year that we could practically participate in, I started talking to SDYC and SBYC about setting up a 300 mile race from SB around the top of Richardson Rock and around all the channel islands to SD, we got approvals from the two clubs, at the same time I asked my father in law Jost Von Kursell who is a great sailor to donate one of his old silver trophies that he had received in 1960 to this race and he agreed and now the boat that corrects overall based on its ORR rating gets their name on a plaque on this beautiful perpetual trophy which travels between SDYC, SBYC and the club of the winning boat.”

PD: The idea of reigniting the TP 52 class on the West Coast, what was your inspiration for that?

MM“I can not emphasis the great sailing that one gets out of class racing a TP52, these boats are powerful, extremely fast and agile and pound for pound the best sailing anyone can participate in so when FOX was built, I started talking to the other owners and found others who shared the same idea so that’s how PAC52’ was started.”

PD: In the Latitude 38′ article, you mention some of the differences including taller masts, larger mains, larger jibs, larger spinnakers and lighter displacement, are there some Specs and line drawings we can share with our readers?

MM “All of these boats are being built from the existing 2015 moulds of SuperSeriesTP52s, FOX was built out of the mould of SLED, two boats are being built out of the mould of Provezza and one is being built out of the mould of Platoon which are all current participants in the TP52’ SuperSeries. the masts are taller by 60cm, the sails are larger by about 5%, the engines are lighter by 100KG.”

PD: How much wiggle room in design in the various builds will be allowed?

MM“I think if a boat is designed as a TP52 and has a mast that is not taller than what we have specified, would be able to participate in our class.”

PD: There is also mention of a limit of pro’s on board, has the number been solidified?

MM “We have tentatively agreed on having no more than five pros on the boats, this is in contrast to 12 on the SuperSeries boats which will significantly reduce the cost of racing these boats.

PD: Reaching out to perspective owners, especially former TP52 owners, how has the response been?

Well, we already have four boats and I think as the word gets out, there will be other interested parties.


PD: Will Rio 100 stay in the family, or is she destined for another home?

“Rio100 is our long distance boat which will continue doing the three races per year, the PAC52’ is more of an inshore racing boat.”

PD How soon do you expect to accept delivery of the new baby and your 1st projected events?

MM “All three additional boats should be in California by early next year, we are looking forward to doing the Yachting Cup in SD as our first class event next year.”

PD: Thank you and the best of luck getting this rolling!

Racing Rio


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


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?


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.