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New Horizons Lay Before MOD 70 Orion


  • New Horizons Lay Before MOD 70 Orion

    The MOD 70 Orion has been getting a new life thanks to Justin Shaffer and a crew of mostly NorCal sailors familiar with the trimaran's quirks and whims, and a boatload of blue water miles between them. Donated to USMMA by her 2nd owner, Tom Seibel which had brought her to the West Coast in 2013 after her initial stint with Roland Jourdain as Veolia Environment. She is currently prepping to compete in this years Transpac with two additional Mod 70's, Giovani Soldini's Maserati and Jason Carroll's Argo.

    We were able to slow Justin down for a few minutes to bring us up to date on what the program is shortly after the team completed the California 500 in a Mod 70 match race down the California Coast from SF to San Diego

    PD: How did Orion come onto your horizon?

    Justin Shaffer:

    Ralf Steitz and I have discussed the boat in a variety of contexts since the USMMA Foundation received it via donation from Tom Siebel’s team. We did some local sailing last summer on the bay in San Francisco, and then decided to put a team together for a few races this year. I’ve been wanting to get into the class for some time, as the boats are absolutely incredible, and hadn’t found an opportunity to join another team as a navigator or otherwise. When we looked at what it would take to do a few events, it just started to make more and more sense to do it.

    PD: What is the current status? Is it a lease program and if so what is the current timeline?

    Justin Shaffer:
    We’ve done two races this year - the Cabo Race, and just last weekend, the CA 500. Our next event is the Transpac which we are now fully focused on preparing for. We’ve learned a lot as a group and continue to improve our performance relative to Argo. The foundation is still the owner of the boat and would like to sell it, and whether or not we are able to do anything beyond the Transpac, we’ll figure out afterward.

    PD: Mod 70's are a fickle beast, the management of said animal require a well trained boat manager and coordinator, who is fulfilling those requirements at present?

    Justin Shaffer:

    It’s a team effort, and I’m incredibly grateful for all of the energy the group has put into getting prepared. We’ve done a significant refit last fall, built new sails, and put a lot of on the ground effort into day to day readiness. Hogan Beatie is the boat captain and is without a doubt our lead coordinator.

    PD: You had 3 Mod 70's lined up for the California 500, but then Snowflake bugged out, any idea of the rationale for that?

    Justin Shaffer:

    We wish we were sailing with them as well. You’ll have to ask them.

    The Crew aboard Orion For California 500

    Orion approaching the Farallones

    PD:Your take on the California 500? Was it what you expected? Any thoughts on wrangling some additional Mod 70s to participate?

    Justin Shaffer:

    Originally we thought we’d have 4 boats (us, Argo, Maserati, and Snowflake) for all of the west coast events this year. That hasn’t quite panned out as we’d hoped, but we have been having a great time racing against Argo, who is certainly one of the most developed and best prepared boats and crew around.

    Regarding the 500, it was generally what I expected weather wise based on forecast, though the pacific has been in an interesting state the past few months and nothing certainly seems “normal” this year. We tend to go better against Argo in light wind or in heavy air, and in the in between they’re quick! More work to do refining our targets and understanding of our potential performance for sure.

    Looking at the sail trim

    PD: Next up is the Transpac. Same crew for that?

    Justin Shaffer:

    We’ll sail Transpac with the crew we sailed the Cabo Race with, as Morgan and Giulio couldn’t make the CA500 and we were lucky to have Trevor Baylis and Paul Larsen with us instead. Transpac crew will be: Cam Lewis, Morgan Larson, Paul Allen, Hogan Beatie, Matt Noble, Giulio Bertelli, and me.

    PD:Plans after Transpac? Long term or short term?

    Justin Shaffer:

    In a perfect world, we’d keep sailing the boat. Next best would be to have it land in a great home which would help the Foundation and ideally keep it sailing as well. My capacity to serve as the sponsor of the team beyond these races is limited, and so we’re seeking sponsorship or partners in some capacity to continue. It’s been an absolute dream thus far, and we’re all very excited for our next race.

    Thanks Justin!
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