San Francisco, CA – Daniel Thielman’s Tai Kuai used her greater length and superior upwind speed to her advantage today in the first two races of the 2013 HPR National Championship, part of the Rolex Big Boat Series. Led by local tactician Seadon Wijsen, the Reichel/Pugh 44 finished the day with a solid 1-1 score line to take the early lead in the 7-race series running today through Sunday from the St Francis YC.
“The conditions and the course suited us today,” said Thielman, “This is a very tough class, and we’re really enjoying the racing, but it could all change tomorrow, so we’re enjoying our wins now.”
HPR Class in start line action. Photo credit: Daniel Forster/Rolex
Racing started an hour later than the scheduled 1100 time due to a lingering northerly that finally shifted west and built to 13-15 knots in the first race. Wijsen explained that victory came to them in this race after a split from the rest of the class to the City Front helped launch them ahead on the first long upwind leg. The move helped Tai Kuai earn their winning margin of 1:18 in over two hours of racing over Bernie Girod’s Farr 400 Rock & Roll in second.
As the breeze built in the next race, and after a long upwind leg to a mark placed just outside the Golden Gate Bridge’s north tower, it was on the downwind leg this time that Tai Kuai made their move.
“We are not as fast as the newer lighter boats off the wind, but we were able to find a header they didn’t have and rode that down long enough to hold them off,” said Wijsen. “And on the final beat we were just enough ahead to stay out of the traffic in the other classes to extend some more and take the win.” The margin in Race 2 was 2:35 in an hour and a half of sailing in windier conditions of 18-21 knots, with Don Payan’s MC 38 Whiplash this time in the runner-up position.
On scores of 3-2, Payan and his team are also in the runner-up position on the leaderboard with a 1-point edge over Rock & Roll in third. Payan was not happy, but still confident in his team’s performance and their abilities to coax the most out of their Harry Dunning-designed, McConaghy-built carbon-fiber rocket.
“We have not had this level of competition yet since we took delivery of this boat this year,” said Payan, “and we’re still learning this boat, so we need this to help push ourselves more and more and get more out of the boat. Today we hit 19 knots, not bad for conditions that were not super windy.”
Racing resumes tomorrow again at 1100 local time, with two races planned in conditions that are forecast to be somewhat lighter than today.