Brothers of a Cruising Catamaran Rivalry

Published on March 23rd, 2022

by Herb McCormick, Sailing World
Gino Morrelli has a word for them: outliers. He’s referring to the community of sailors drawn to the ever-expanding fleet of high-end, high-performance, hefty-price-tag, no-holds-barred catamarans that he and his design partner, Pete Melvin, have unleashed upon the sailing world.

Their eponymous Southern California naval-­architecture shop, Morrelli & Melvin, is responsible for the cutting-edge lines of Gunboat and HH production cats, as well as the late Steve Fossett’s globe-girdling PlayStation and the twin-hulled AC72 winner of the 2013 America’s Cup, Oracle Team USA, among many others.

These “dogs,” as they say, know cats—and the dudes who sail them.

“It started with the Gunboats, which were almost like a cult,” Morrelli says. “Exclusive. Expensive. The brand attracted uber-wealthy guys that maybe didn’t want to play the normal IOR-type rule of the day. They were outliers in their ­professional space, where they’d had great success, and in their sailing too.”

The world has ­continued ­spinning in the decade or so since Gunboat’s bankruptcy and demise, and cats have evolved exponentially too: far lighter, way cooler, much faster. But the outliers remain. Which brings us to a pair of them aboard a set of high-strung performance cats, whose competitive rivalry did not emerge in the usual way—on the racecourse—but rather under the very same rooftop: introducing the brothers Slyngstad, Greg and Todd.

The fifth of eight siblings raised in the San Francisco Bay area, Greg amassed some serious loot during his stint at Microsoft and invested a chunk of it in his 53-foot all-carbon, Paul Bieker-designed Fujin, with a striking profile reminiscent of early Polynesian catamarans.

Displacing a meager 7 tons (“Half the weight of a Gunboat 55,” Greg tells me), Fujin has been a consistent presence on the Caribbean circuit for several years now, and it is raced hard and well by a Pacific Northwest posse that includes Olympian and fellow SW columnist Jonathan McKee.

Todd’s the youngest ­member of the clan, who earned his dough in construction in Silicon Valley. He was bitten hard by the cat bug after racing with Greg aboard Fujin, and when he decided to enter the racing fray himself, he commissioned Morrelli to soup up an HH66, which became his Nemo—a basic platform was already under construction, all ready to get tricked out with lighter window glass, custom rudders and daggerboards, carbon furniture veneers and so on—with a quite explicit request in the design brief. – Full report

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