Peter Nicholson of Rolex USA with Don Payan and the crew of WHIPLASH - photo by Rolex/Daniel Forster
San Francisco, CA – In a must-win tie-break situation with Greg Slyngstad’s J/125 HAMACHI, Don Payan’s MC 38 WHIPLASH had a strong second-place finish today to claim overall victory in the HPR Class at the 50th Anniversary Rolex Big Boat Series. For his achievement Payan wins the City of San Francisco Trophy and a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner watch.
After a mediocre start in the event’s first race, WHIPLASH improved steadily and then stayed consistently in the top three for the remainder of the week, a performance Payan attributes to the strength of his team.
“One of the big reasons I love racing this boat is because of these guys,” said Payan, gesturing towards his team. Besides Payan, the WHIPLASH team included Steve Marsh, Pete McCormick, Ernie Rodriguez, Chris Lewis, Scott Easom, Gary Sadamori, and Matt Siddens. “They work so hard at getting the most out of this boat, changing and improving our techniques and systems from last year, and we’re going faster than ever before. The boat is great, and I really enjoy racing in HPR, as the competition was really tough this week.”
WHIPLASH at speed - photo by Sharon Green/Ultimate Sailing
And the toughest among these was Greg Slyngstad’s J/125 HAMACHI, who held the series lead at one point in the series, and was tied with WHIPLASH coming into today’s final race. This race was a long 25-mile “Bay tour” that took the fleet from their start near Alcatraz, upwind out past the Golden Gate, back downwind towards Berkeley, upwind to Sausalito, high-speed reaching to the City Front, then downwind towards Treasure Island, before a final lap upwind to Chrissy Fields before finishing downwind in front of a spectator crowd at the St Francis YC.
Throughout HAMACHI and WHIPLASH battled each other, although both are carbon fiber and fast, they very different designs: the J/125 is longer and heavier and has an edge upwind, whereas the MC 38 is an offwind rocket. WHIPLASH rates slightly faster, but the two were close until HAMACHI had one bad gybe, allowing WHIPLASH to get away.
“The racing was really close this year,” said Slyngstad, “and we were much faster than last year, with the boat and the team much better prepared. We’re preparing to go to Key West and race HPR there, so this has been a great test.”
Third on the podium was Anatole Masfen's TP 52 BEECOM, which despite a string of firsts in the last half of the event could not overcome a tough first day to cath the competition on points.
For photos, videos, results, and more information on the event, visit www.rolexbigboatseries.com.