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The Hand Splashes


  • The Hand Splashes

    Just splashed this morning, Invisible Hand is leaner and meaner than ever!

    Invisible Hand, IHXL or "The Big Hand" is out of the shed and in the water at KKMI in Richmond. Acquired in April 2012 by Frank Slootman, the former "Limit", the one-off Reichel/Pugh 62.5m, built in Hart Marine in Melbourne was languishing in Western Australia . The boat was shipped to the US and trucked to Richmond and reassembled. Last years racing results was a mixed bag, with a light air P.V. and marginal conditions for the Transpac, Click HERE I.H. won out in Divison 1 as a dark horse against much bigger boats. The taste of winning was good, so much so that Frank has upped the game even further. Frank Hired Bill Erkelens, renowned for his boat management skills and sent the boat into the tent to get some quality time in the overhaul department.

    Paul and Rufus work as hard on the water as off the water

    Fresh out of the shed, looking VERY sharp!

    What stands out immediately is the paint job the Bill says matches the midnight blue of one of Franks vehicles. "It took some time to get the fairing right as we were going from a while hull to a dark hull" indicates Bill " And the graphics guy was meticulous in his work and it shows"

    More extensively was the work done on working bits of the yacht. "We extended the prod to match our oversized kites, did major service on the hydraulics, winches, pulled out the rig and stripped it down" Says Bill. " We rebuilt the rig, replaced a lot of the running rigging, had the electronics surveyed and parts replaced. addition all the interior was painted white to improve the lighting below and the nonskid was redone, and it came out quite nice.

    The shed, where most of The Hand's jobs get done!

    IH has undergone a refit in several areas under the capable direction of Bill Erkelens. First, the boat is donning a new paint job, inside and out, cockpit, non-skid and if course new graphics. Boat was completely stripped and reassembled with many upgrades and new systems. Second, she has been structurally reinforced in key load areas. Third, the boat continues to be improved for down wind performance in cooperation with the boat's designers Reichel/Pugh. We also have a bunch of new head sails to help the boat off the wind. In a nutshell, this baby is better now than she's ever been!
    Frank Slootman

    The final touches as Jeff Causey and Rufus Sjoberg install the new bobstay

    The boat has updated their sails, Bill Colombo of Doyle Sails Alameda has been busy with the replacement of older inventory. The latest is a new code zero and masthead genoa, aka Stratis G-Zero either of which should be a major improvement in the boats tight reaching ability expected at the start of the Puerto Vallarta or Transpac, which the boat is scheduled to compete in. Along with new headsails and the main replaced late last season, the quiver is some 13 sails deep, which coincidentally matches the number of sailors who will be aboard for the racing:

    Along with Bill Erkelens and Frank Slootman, the Big Hand will sport a mixture of pro's and Corinthian sailors: Bill Colombo, Norman Davant, Paul Allen, Rufus Sjoberg, Jeff Causey, Daniel Alvarez, Rod Daniels, Jay Crum, Patrick Whitmarsh, Ben Allen and Dominic Marchal round out the crew. " We were looking for a good mix of pros and non pros to fill out the roster says Bill Erkelens "And I think we have a good rounded group of solid sailors, I'm really looking forward to the races!

    Now there has been talk in recent months of some bureaucratic boat abductions of American boats in Mexico, and that has caused some concern with racers and cruisers. "The Race Committee has been working very closely with Mexican Authorities in Puerto Vallarta and elsewhere to make sure everything is in order, and there are no hiccups that might be cause for concern" indicates Bill. "But were gonna anchor away from the marina, just in case, he chuckles"

    Plans after the Pac Cup? " We'll have to wait and see where the other boats are racing and what Franks schedule allows" Bill says. A return to the Hobart? A Caribbean or Med Circuit? Time will tell what lies ahead for the Invisible Hand
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