[Source: The Australian] AS yachtsmen in Sydney wonder if Boxing Day will bring a thumping southerly buster or a howling nor’easterly to test the 117 competitors in the Rolex Sydney to Hobart race, one skipper is hoping for the impossible.
American yachtsman and computer industry millionaire Manouch Moshayedi is hoping for light breezes that never top 12-15 knots to waft over the 628 nautical mile course to Hobart — conditions that could see his unheralded supermaxi Rio 100 lead the fleet up the Derwent.
Early this year Moshayedi bought the 11 year- old supermaxi that had sailed in various Hobart races as Zana, Konica Minolta and Lahana and took it to the famed Cookson yard in New Zealand for a makeover designed to make it the fastest yacht racing on the US west coast.
“We rarely get winds above 12 or 15 knots, so Cookson was tasked with optimising Rio for those conditions,” Moshayedi said as he watched the racing sails being loaded aboard the sleek, black-hulled yacht in Sydney Harbour yesterday.
“They cut through the middle of the hull just aft of the mast and grafted on a new wider and longer stern with twin rudders, making it a virtually new boat. The keel was changed to a lifting design that can be lowered for racing and lifted to get into the west coast’s shallow harbours. They also took out the water ballast system so that in racing mode we now weigh 8.5 tonnes less than any of the other supermaxis.”
Also sporting a new longer bowsprit and a longer boom, Rio 100 is now a light weather flyer. She had one race before sailing across the Tasman to Sydney and she streeted the fleet.
“Realistically we won’t get perfect conditions but I still think we can finish within five hours of the line honours winner,” he said. “If we do, we will beat them all on handicap.”
For Moshayedi the yacht represents the pinnacle of his yachting career that started when his father-in-law took him sailing for the first time in 1987. He honed his skills as an “owner driver” in the TP52 Super Series and assembled a formidable crew of America’s Cup and Volvo Race veterans, most of whom will be joining him for the Hobart race.
“We will race with a crew of 22, most of them should arrive in Australia tomorrow so we can spend the next four days sailing and tuning the boat for the Hobart race,” he said.
“We were going to ship Rio 100 back to the US after the changes were complete but, after that one race in New Zealand, we thought — we are almost in Australia, why not do the Sydney-Hobart while we are here. It is a dream race for me and most sailors and a change from the shorter offshore passage races we … do on the west coast.”
But the Hobart race will just be a starter for Moshayedi. He is planning to make an attempt on the Barn Door trophy in the 2500nm TransPac race from Los Angeles to Hawaii next year. The trophy is given to the first monohull yacht not using stored power for winches or canting keels to cross the line.
At 56, Moshayedi says he is now retired from the company he and his brother started and he is living as a sailor and investor.
In June he had an enormous win over the US Securities and Exchange Commission when a jury in Santa Ana deliberated for just four hours before dismissing a raft of charges the SEC had levelled against him alleging insider trading of shares, worth more than $US200 million, in 2009.