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North Sails NEWS

July 12, 2017


Mighty Merloe Sets Transpac Multihull Course Record, finishing three hours ahead of Thornburg’s Phaedo 3

© Sharon Green

When HL Enloe brought his Orma 60, Mighty Merloe, to California, he set a new bar for speed that was not only striking but rather inconvenient. “In the beginning, we convinced race committees to let us enter, and not surprisingly we’d reach the finish line days ahead of the fleet. With no witnesses present, we called in our finish time and that was that,” recalled Steve Calder, a long-time crew member on Mighty Merloe and a sail designer at North Sails.

Now five years later, the SoCal offshore racing scene is fully onboard. Under yesterday’s afternoon sun, Mighty Merloe sailed the last hundred miles to Hawaii to finish the 2017 Transpac Race first in a class of five maxi trimarans, setting a new elapsed time-to-beat for multihulls: 4 days, 7 hours, 3 minutes and 30 seconds.

“The enthusiasm Enloe has put into this program really opened a door to multihull sailing in Southern California,” said Patrick Murray, the North Sails Expert in San Diego, who manages the inventory for Mighty Merloe.”

“This is an important record because it will be hard to break, but also because the team has put in so much these past few years. The Transpac Record has been an important goal for everyone.”

Together, Patrick and Steve Calder spend time sailing with the crew and then use the North design tools to maximize the Orma 60’s performance potential.

A new set of 3Di RAW upwind sails (mainsail and one new headsail) and a 3Di FORCE Gennaker were added to the inventory this year. “Transpac was the goal, so we did quite a few regional offshore races early in the season to prepare,” said Patrick. Enloe and crew broke the Socal 300 record last month and put forth a strong performance in the Newport – Ensenada Race, ceding the win to Lloyd Thornburg’s Phaedo 3 just before the finish.

For Transpac, offshore names you may have heard before (Loick Peyron, Jacques Vincent, and Franck Proffit) all brought onboard a lot of multihull expertise. Combined with Enloe’s steadfast team, the well prepared – and optimally tuned – boat scored the most important race win of the season.

In true Transpac fashion, the course was brutally rough for the first 24 -36 hours, until the fleet reached the trade winds and could head south. “We had no idea we would get a record – it started as a race against other boats,” Steve explained, referring to tough competition from MOD 70s Phaedo 3 and Maserati.

“We knew to push hard against the 70s in those early reaching conditions, and that would leave us in good shape for the tradewinds.”

In the end, preparation was key; Steve said their pre-racing planning and weather routing was spot-on. “We sailed very much to our own race, knew what to look for and played our cards as best we could.” The crew kept their heads out of the boat when things got tricky, being selective on maneuvers and jibing when it was appropriate. “We jibed six times. From what we gathered, the other guys jibed double digits we think because they stayed farther south. It was a tough call for us to stay to the North, and in the end, we stuck with our routing and the original plan paid off.”

Phaedo 3 finished close behind Mighty Merloe, with Giovanni Soldini’s Maserati in third. Two other multihulls (Gunboat 62 Chim Chim, and the 60’ Jeanneau Trimaran LoeReal) are currently still racing, yet very much in the mix on corrected time.

North Sails provided sails for the entire 2017 Transpac Multihull fleet. The majority chose 3Di RAW and 3Di ENDURANCE for their core qualities of performance and durability.

Steve and Patrick both expressed appreciation for being part of such an influential program. To learn more about Enloe’s story, check out The Multihull Maverick, an article published by Sailing World in 2014, which quotes project manager Nat Iyengar:

“Enloe is a trailblazer. He has put himself out there to experience something significant, which in his case, is extreme speed.”

Transpac 2017 winning crew on Mighty Merloe:
HL Enloe, Steve Calder (Main Trimmer), Jay Davis (Bowman), Artie Means (Navigator), Loïck Peyron (Helm), Franck Proffit (Helm), Will Suto (Grinder), and Jacques Vincent (Co-Skipper).

Loïck Peyron, helm for Mighty Merloe, and Lloyd Thornburg, owner of Phaedo3 celebrating their finish on the big island of Hawaii © Richard & Rachel / Team Phaedo