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Transatlantic Race 2011: Superyacht Maltese Falcon and sailing yacht ICAP Leopard finish

July 14, 2011

Newport, R.I. USA (July 13, 2011) – Yesterday, as the sun was setting on the Cornish coast, ICAP Leopard, skippered by Clarke Murphy (New York, N.Y.), passed The Lizard to finish the Transatlantic Race 2011 at 20:42 UTC. Since the 4th of July when ICAP Leopard snapped its bowsprit, there has been no whinging from on board. Sailing yacht ICAP Leopard did not even report the breakage until several days after the incident. After the finish, Clarke Murphy was quick to praise the crew.

ICAP Leopard (shown at start) sailed the majority of the Transatlantic Race 2011 with a broken bow sprit.  It has now finished. (photo credit TR2011Billy Black)

ICAP Leopard (shown at start) sailed the majority of the Transatlantic Race 2011 with a broken bow sprit. It has now finished. (photo credit TR2011Billy Black)

“To break the sprit 36 hours into the race was a shock and incredibly frustrating. The first focus was to make sure we were still safe and then to keep us in the race. The sprit was bouncing into the hull, hanging off the bobstay, but after having recovered it and checked the hull, we were back racing again in 40 minutes. We had to change our strategy, think on our feet, and to cross the Atlantic in nine days was a great achievement from the position we were in. The crew has been outstanding in every department, and there has been no lack of humour in this crowd, or lack of ribbing. We still had a good time, and the chocolate thieves were caught eventually! This is an incredibly experienced group of people with great character who could adapt and keep us going.”

Superyacht Maltese Falcon during hte Transatlantic Race 2011. Image copyright Billy Black.

Superyacht Maltese Falcon during hte Transatlantic Race 2011. Image copyright Billy Black.

The superyacht Maltese Falcon received high praise from other competing yachts, and rightly so. The skill of the crew was there for all to see right from the start when the immense superyacht tacked in confined quarters to perfection, casting an enormous shadow on the spectator fleet. Later in the race, the crew on the Cookson 50 Jazz was aghast as the Maltese Falcon gybed their enormous three-masted rig time after time to stay in the pressure.

Last night, just after 0100 UTC, the Maltese Falcon arrived at The Lizard, and the magnificent 289’ Perini Navi sent a heartwarming message back from the racecourse, written by crewmember Sean Truscott.

Sunset from onboard sailing yacht Maltese Falcon, which has now finished the Transatlantic Race 2011

Sunset from onboard sailing yacht Maltese Falcon, which has now finished the Transatlantic Race 2011

 “A jubilant crew brings the Big Bird to the line at The Lizard, and the race has ended for us. This is no time to mourn our loss to Phaedo, which has our sincerest congratulations for their outstanding victory. With Maltese Falcon built not as a race boat but a large sailing super yacht, we are proud of our performance and proud to have been part of this spectacular event with all her challenges. Thank you to all the organisers, sponsors and participants. It was wicked!

“The remaining hours of our race presented us with an awe-inspiring seascape view of the setting sun over Bishops Rock. Tonight, as the props turn for their first time since the start, the moon sets to our stern, a large yellow orb. Sadly we cannot linger to enjoy the festivities and the camaraderie with the other crew, as our purpose and business hails us back to the Med, but we wish we were able to, and the fleet still at sea we wish the best.”

ICAP Leopard and Maltese Falcon may not have tasted victory at The Lizard, but their performance and attitude has been commendable and a credit to the sport.

Keep Calm and Carry On

For the remaining 19 boats yet to finish the Transatlantic Race 2011, progress is agonisingly slow. Most of the yachts out on the racecourse are approximately 250 miles from the finish, and looking at the tracker, it resembles the start line for a foot race, with the competitors waiting for the starting pistol.

Fair winds still elude the yachts; however, more wind is expected to arrive from the south or southwest in about 24 hours’ time, which should increase in strength, giving the yachts a roaring finish into The Lizard. Most of the yachts should finish the Transatlantic Race over the coming weekend.

The big decision at the moment is whether to try to make it to the southern coast of the island and pick up breeze from the land or to stay to the south, where the breeze should fill in first. Tony Lawson’s Class 40, Concise 2, skippered by Ned Collier-Wakefield (Oxford, U.K.) is heading for the Irish coast.  The young British team have seen their substantial lead over class rival Dragon, skippered by Mike Hennessy (Mystic, Conn.), evaporate to just a few miles. Similar anguish must be present on Carina, skippered by Rives Potts (Essex, Conn.). Their main rival, British Soldier, skippered by Nick Bate (Falmouth, Cornwall, U.K.) is now in a threatening position, but the British Army team does owe Carina a considerable amount of time in IRC Class Four.

The morale on board the yachts still racing will have become a very important factor towards their performance. After many days at sea, living in close quarters with the same people, tempers can and do get tested. Sleep deprivation and dwindling food supplies adds tension to the mix. “Keep calm and carry on” is an old phrase that has become popular again, especially with relevance to the late-2000 recession. These would be wise words for the competitors in the Transatlantic Race 2011 to cogitate, if they want to get the result that their performance deserves.

Sponsors of the TR 2011 are Rolex, Thomson Reuters, Newport Shipyard, Perini Navi and Peters & May, with additional support by apparel sponsor Atlantis Weathergear.

Transatlantic Race 2011: Magical Moments

July 12, 2011

Newport, R.I. USA (July 12, 2011) – Dreams — of deep sleep and wholesome food — have come true, as three more Transatlantic Race 2011 class winners arrived at The Lizard in the south of England today.  While the sailors have put to an end the days of going without, memories of the adventure will linger forever.

Zaraffa Reichel Pugh 66-footer at the start of Transatlantic Race 2011 Newport RI  Photo Credit TR2011 ©Billy Black

Zaraffa Reichel Pugh 66-footer at the start of Transatlantic Race 2011 Newport RI Photo Credit TR2011 ©Billy Black

Just after sunrise sailing yacht Zaraffa, a Reichel Pugh 65, passed The Lizard to finish the Transatlantic Race 2011 with skipper Huntington Sheldon (Shelburne, Vt.), who, at age 80, is believed to be the oldest competitor in the race.  S/Y Zaraffa completed the 2,975 nautical mile course in less than 12 days and was over 400 miles ahead of any other yacht in Class IRC Three, winning the class by a handsome margin.  Notably, on Zaraffa, Sheldon took both line honors and the overall win of the 2003 Daimler Chrysler North Atlantic Challenge, which also started in Newport, but finished in Hamburg, Germany [with a course time of 13 days, 15 hours, 7 minutes and 28 seconds].  He subsequently donated the yacht to the U.S. Naval Academy (Annapolis, Md.) and chartered it back for this event.

The Gunboat 66 Phaedo finishing the Transatlantic Race 2011 - Photo by Richard Langdon Ocean Images

The Gunboat 66 Phaedo finishing the Transatlantic Race 2011 - Photo by Richard Langdon Ocean Images

In the two-boat Open Class, Lloyd Thornburg (St. Barthelemy), skipper of the Gunboat 66 Phaedo, was ecstatic when the Lamborghini-orange multihull crossed the finish line in light air.  With a 100-mile lead, Phaedo was the victor in a David and Goliath battle with the magnificent 289’ superyacht Maltese Falcon.  

“It has been an epic adventure,” said Thornburg of the race via satellite phone.  “We enjoyed the RORC Caribbean 600 so much and it [the Transatlantic Race 2011] just seemed like the next step.  During the windy part of this race, we were screaming along in big seas.  That was pretty exciting and sometimes hair-raising, especially when flying a hull at night!  The last few days, however, were slow.  Fortunately, Phaedo has plenty of onboard entertainment — I think our movie count was 25 films.

“It has been a wild and amazing experience with some incredible memories.  The highlights for me were seeing water so clean it was the color of blue Gatorade; and, when we were becalmed, we had a shark circling the boat which was very eerie.  Crossing the Atlantic, you lose track of time and it gives you the feeling like you have gone into space.  Now we are heading back to life on land; we are all looking forward to sleeping through the night and we are all tired of freeze-dried food.  I think that we will all be tucking into a full English breakfast when we hit the dock at Southampton.  Our hearts really go out to the boats that are still out there, some of them must be having a real rough time of it, knowing that it will be days before they get in.”

Jazz, Chris Bull’s Cookson 50 which is being skippered by Nigel King (Lymington, U.K.), was the fifth yacht to finish the Transatlantic Race 2011 and appears to have won IRC Class Two.  “We set out with a clear goal to deliver a top sailing performance worthy of this team, regardless of the final result,” said King.  “The guys have never wavered from the challenge and have done so with smiles all the way.  Once again ocean racing shows to me why it is the ultimate challenge – it’s a total privilege to be the skipper of this team.”

As Jazz approached the finish, several of the crew reflected on the best moments of the race across the Atlantic.

Navigator Mike Broughton (Hamble, U.K.) described “a marvelous minute of offshore racing” in his first sighting of a blue whale and the sight of dolphins riding a bow wave.  “Uncharacteristically, I saw two of these magical mammals slightly misjudge their flight paths and tap the bobstay with their tails.”

Australian Brendan Garner (Victoria) felt privileged to have been given the opportunity to race across the North Atlantic.  “A new experience for me was helming at 20 knots of boat speed, pitch black at night, heavy fog, three degrees of water temperature and the crew on iceberg watch.  High adrenalin sailing.”

For Anthony “Ski” Haines (Cowes, U.K.), ocean racing at its very best was launching downwind in the mid-Atlantic at 20+ knots and “seeing the whole boat and crew working so well, to the point where we did not have to think about anything …except going as fast as possible.”

And, for a sailor making his first transatlantic crossing, it was a defining experience.  “I have climbed my mountain,” said Christian Ripard (Valetta, Malta) after sailing almost 3,000 miles.

There remain 21 yachts out racing on the North Atlantic Ocean, including the S&S 42, Sasha. With over 800 miles to the finish, the beautiful, sleek yacht likely has a week more at sea.  Skipper Albrecht Peters and his wife Erika (Hamburg, Germany) have owned and raced Sasha for over 30 years and have just two other crew onboard, Christine Beech and Ron Melton both from New Zealand.  For many people three weeks at sea is a long time; the Albrecht’s, however, have sailed Sasha through more than 110,000 miles of ocean and are very much at home.

Excitement builds ahead of the 2011 Panerai British Classic Week in Cowes

July 12, 2011

With just over a week to go, excitement is building in advance of the 2011 edition of the Panerai British Classic Week in Cowes. This year’s regatta runs from the 17th – 23rd of July and forms a part of the 2011 Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge Series – which also includes some of the world’s leading classic yacht regattas, such as the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta and the Régates Royales in Cannes. With entries of all sizes still coming in thick and fast, this year’s Panerai British Classic Week in Cowes looks set to see another bumper turnout of classic yachts to race in and around the waters off the Isle of Wight.

Excitement builds ahead of the 2011 Panerai British Classic Week in Cowes

Excitement builds ahead of the 2011 Panerai British Classic Week in Cowes

This year’s entry list is made up of an encouraging mixture of large and small boats – some a familiar sight at this regatta, others gracing the event with their presence for the first time. One such newcomer is the 1894 G.L. Watson designed 36’ Gaff Cutter ‘Peggy Bawn’, which will arrive in Cowes fresh from competing at classic regattas in Brittany. In recent years the subject of a painstaking two-year restoration, ‘Peggy Bawn’ was originally commissioned by Belfast flax miller Alfred Lepper and built by his local yacht builder John Hilditch of Carrickfergus, County Antrim. Under subsequent owners she became a star performer in the Dublin Bay racing fleet over several decades.

One yacht which should feel at home in the Solent is the 1974 Sparkman & Stephens 41’ Bermudan Sloop ‘Golden Fleece of Mersea’. Built originally in South Africa, she was brought to Cowes the following year to compete in the 1975 Admiral’s Cup. After being found in 1999 by her current owner in some disrepair, she was sailed to the UK where she underwent a five-year restoration at the Elephant Boatyard in Southampton.

Another beautiful classic scheduled to compete at this year’s regatta is the 1929 International 30 Square Metre Class sloop ‘Gluckauf’. Designed by Henry Rasmussen and built at the German Abeking & Rasmussen yard, at 38’ overall length and with a beam of 6’ 5”, she is regarded as one of the less extreme 30 Square Metre designs, but nevertheless over the years she picked up the nickname ‘Flying Toothpick’ at local regattas.

Despite the legendary Gipsy Moth IV having suffered significant rig damage whilst participating in the recent J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race, the indomitable yacht will be repaired in time to compete at this year’s regatta.

Following on from the luxurious and highly popular hospitality facilities provided last year by title sponsor Panerai, competitors at the 2011 Panerai British Classic Week in Cowes will be able to take advantage of a brand new Panerai Lounge. Designed to reflect the overall style and comfort of a classic yacht interior, the 300 square metre wooden structure boasts its own multilingual classic yachting book collection, a large touch screen TV showing up to date results and video from the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge and the Panerai British Classic Week in Cowes, as well as a display of watches from the Panerai collection. The new Panerai Lounge will form the centrepiece of the regatta’s marina based social activities, with competitors able to enjoy a pre race breakfast each morning and post race cocktails each evening.

For the first time the event will be open to the public with the addition of the Panerai Event Village in Cowes Yacht Haven. Open from 3pm Monday-Friday there will be stalls from companies including world renowned photographer Beken of Cowes, Minghella’s Ice Cream, Slam Clothing, Classic Boat magazine, DeLonghi coffee and the Wight Vodka bar by Pusser’s Rum. Entry to the event village is free and there will be live music on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday evenings from 5pm.

On Thursday morning more than 60 classic cars from the Historic Rally Endurance Organisation (HERO) will be assembled in the Yacht Haven to begin their summer reliability trial and the public is invited to come and view this rare spectacle. Racing at the 2011 Panerai British Classic Week in Cowes begins on Sunday 17 July and runs through to Friday 22 July. On the morning of Saturday 23 July all participating yachts in the regatta are cordially invited to take place in a Parade of Sail.

Transatlantic Race 2011: PUMA’s Mar Mostro sailing yacht declared provisional winners

July 12, 2011

Newport, R.I. USA (July 11, 2011) – PUMA’s Mar Mostro is not only the second boat across the Transatlantic Race 2011 finish line at The Lizard on the south coast of England (at 05:40 UTC on July 11) but also the current overall standings leader based on corrected time.  Skipper Ken Read (Newport, R.I.) and crew completed the 2,975 nautical mile course in 7 days, 11 hours and 40 minutes.  After careful calculations, the race committee has confirmed that none of the 24 yachts still racing has a mathematical probability of beating PUMA’s Mar Mostro on corrected time, and they shall be declared provisional winners of IRC Class One and IRC Overall for the Transatlantic Race 2011.

PUMA Ocean Racing Team hard at work before the finish (photo courtesy of PUMA Ocean Racing Team)

PUMA Ocean Racing Team hard at work before the finish (photo courtesy of PUMA Ocean Racing Team)

“We entered the race with zero expectations, just like the other IRC handicap racing we’ve done this year,” said Ken Read.  “We wanted to learn the boat and the crew.  Now here we are in the position of possibly winning a race that we didn’t expect to win.  We are pleasantly shocked.  We didn’t break anything, the sails held up, the team is certainly coming together, and there’s not a single negative to this race.  It was a great experience.”

PUMA’s Mar Mostro reached a maximum speed of just over 30 knots early in the race, traveling 551 nautical miles on day three.  By day five, however, light air slowed their pace towards the finish at The Lizard and the last several hundred miles were slow going.

“The finish was excruciating,” said Read as he detailed a bizarre twist to the finish.  “We approached The Lizard knowing we had to get there quick because the current was about to change and go against us.  As we entered the English Channel the breeze was dying steadily to the point where the current did change.  Literally, when the race committee said we were finished, we were stopped and about to throw the anchor as we would have been going backwards with the current. ”

PUMA finished the 2011 Transatlantic Race early this morning and is awaiting their corrected time standing  (photo courtesy of PUMA Ocean Racing Team)

PUMA finished the 2011 Transatlantic Race early this morning and is awaiting their corrected time standing (photo courtesy of PUMA Ocean Racing Team)

While PUMA’s Mar Mostro is now making its way to the team’s summer training camp in Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Rambler 100, which took line honors yesterday and established a new record with an elapsed crossing time of 6 days, 22 hours, 8 minutes and 2 seconds, has made its way under motor to Endeavour Quay (Gosport, Portsmouth, U.K.) where the 100’ Maxi will be based until competing in the Rolex Fastnet Race next month.  

“Puma made it through the windless zone better than us,” said George David (Hartford, Conn.), the skipper of Rambler 100 who was quick to compliment Read and his team.  “Maybe they had a better roll of the dice or maybe they just outdid us.  PUMA’s Mar Mostro is a 2011-edition Volvo 70 and has a world-class crew, so to just lose out on handicap is not such a bad thing.  Our time was the fastest average speed that any monohull has ever crossed the Atlantic Ocean and we have got to be very happy with that.”

Meanwhile back out on the North Atlantic where 24 boats are still racing, sailing yacht Jazz, a Cookson 50, has opened up a big lead on the other competitors in IRC Class Two.  With 240 miles to go, Jazz expects to get to the finish line early evening Tuesday and have a cushion of about 270 miles over Varuna and Shatki.

“We have cracked sheets after having a light spot during the early hours and then we have been on the wind by mid morning,” said Jazz navigator Mike Broughton (Hamble, U.K.).  “The highlight of the morning has been a welcome onto the continental shelf by, at times, an escort of over 40 dolphins.  Seeing groups of them speed in from the side at about 30-40 knots, then arc in to parallel our course and slow down on and ride our bow waves is an awesome sight that even the most seasoned sailors never tire of seeing.”

In IRC Class Three, the Zaraffa yacht, skippered by Huntington Sheldon (Shelburne, Vt.), looks like a certainty for the class win and has just about 100 miles left to finish the race.  Unfortunately, it could take some time yet as there is a complete lack of decent wind in the vicinity of The Lizard, so much so that Zarraffa is now well north of the rhumb line — in the Celtic Sea — looking to pick up breeze.

The leading boats in IRC Class Four still have over 500 miles left to race.S/Y Carina, the McCurdy and Rhodes 48 skippered by Rives Potts, Jr. (Essex, Conn.), is still leading on the water, but the Army Sailing Association’s British Soldier, with lighter displacement, has made up substantial miles.  The British Army crew is 60 miles behind Carina but the new wind is due to fill in from the west and British Soldier should get into fresh pressure before Carina.  

View from Superyacht Maltese Falcon the 289’ Perini Navi during the Transatlantic Race 2011 - Photo by Jeremy Smith

View from Superyacht Maltese Falcon the 289’ Perini Navi during the Transatlantic Race 2011 - Photo by Jeremy Smith

In the Open Class, sailing yacht Maltese Falcon. was never going to be able to compete with Phaedo in light air. The 289’ Perini Navi  weighs 1100 tons, while Phaedo is a mere 17 tons.  Phaedo is nearly 200 miles ahead of Maltese Falcon with just over 100 miles to the finish.

As for the two Class 40s, Dragon has started reeling in Concise 2.  “We have had one heck of an opportunity over the past 48 hours, riding what has seemed like a private seam of pressure,” said Mike Hennessy (Mystic, Conn.) who is sailing Dragon double-handed with Rob Windsor (East Northport, N.Y.), while Concise has six in crew.  “As a result, we have clawed back something like 200 miles that Concise was able to put on us with their brilliant run in the middle of last week.  Now comes the tricky bit, as our low pressure catches up to their high pressure.  Are we far enough out on the leading edge of our system that it will pull us right up to their stern?  How will the passing lanes play out as we cross below Ireland?  Will we end up in the same mess they have been wallowing in?  Questions to ponder over our oatmeal this very chilly morning.”

Sponsors of the TR 2011 are Rolex, Thomson Reuters, Newport Shipyard, Perini Navi and Peters & May, with additional support by apparel sponsor Atlantis Weathergear.

Swan European Regatta 2011: Swan Yachts Sparkle on the Solent

July 12, 2011

Day 1 of the Swan European Regatta dawned with very little wind and a glassy calm Solent but glorious sunshine which resulted in a postponement for the fleet.  Shortly after midday, the sea breeze started to build and by 2pm the Race Committee from the Royal Yacht Squadron were able to start the first race of the event in a light 5 to 8 knot breeze.

Swan Sailing yacht Magical Mystery Tour, winners of Class A racing upwind © Kurt Arrigo & Nautor's Swan

Swan Sailing yacht Magical Mystery Tour, winners of Class A racing upwind © Kurt Arrigo & Nautor's Swan

With an 11 mile course taking the Swan 45 Class and Class A from the Squadron Line to West Lepe, East Lepe and finally Salt Mead before heading back down the Solent under spinnaker to the Squadron Line to finish, the pressure was on from the start.  The Swan 45 fleet were away cleanly on the first start but in Class A, in their first race the brand new Swan 53, Raika, owned by Jamshyd Godrej from India pushed the line a little too hard and found themselves having to return to re-start.  Magical Mystery Tour, Club Swan 42 raced by the Leask Family also turned back to cross the line but then quickly found clear wind and began to push the high performance Swan hard – they were quickly amongst the front runners and upwind crossed tacks back and forth with Colin Buffin’s Swan 62, Uxorious.  The light airs favoured Magical Mystery Tour heavily and once they turned downwind she extended her lead, finishing almost 3 minutes ahead of Uxorious on the water and winning by a little over 2 minutes on corrected time from their sister ship, Baraka GP, raced by the de Graaf Family.

Edward Leask, owner of Magical Mystery Tour, commented, “It was a great day, fantastic weather.  The race committee were really sensible to delay the start by 3 to 4 hours and then we had a nice 10 knot breeze.  We went for the pin end on starboard.  We thought we had got it absolutely spot on and then we heard a 2nd gun go so as we popped out in front by quite a long way, we presumed it had to be us over.  We went back to start again.  Subsequently we found out it was another boat over a long way out.  So we went back and we didn’t need to.  Despite that by the time we got to the first mark we had got back into the lead and we were really delighted to get both line honours and, I now discover, first on corrected time as well.  Great day and fantastic team on board.”

Sailing yacht Samantaga, Swan 45 takes first place off the Royal Yacht Squadron Line © Kurt Arrigo & Nautor's Swan

Sailing yacht Samantaga, Swan 45 takes first place off the Royal Yacht Squadron Line © Kurt Arrigo & Nautor's Swan

Samantaga, the Swan 45 jointly owned by Philippe Moortgat and Patrick van Heurck lead from the outset to take the gun to start the regatta in style.  Glynn Williams, racing his Swan 45 WISC, drew upon his crew’s significant local knowledge to fight through to second place at the first mark which he held until the finish line.  Third place was clinched by Peter de Ridder sailing with his family onboard the Swan 45, Checkmate.

Philippe Moortgat,co-owner of Swan 45, Samantaga commented, “It was a nice day.  The current in Cowes is also something quite new for us so we have to look at this a lot but it was good.  The fleet was fast.  We had a good start and were very comfortable have a good start. Happy today, very happy.  It’s a good way to begin.  It’s a long week so wait and see.”

Class B sailed a slightly shorter, 9.5 mile course around the Western Solent.  The Scottish team onboard Sloop John T, Swan 40 took line honours and then won on corrected time by 20 seconds from David Segel’s Swan 40, Christina. Ray Mitchell’s Swan 411, Accomplice round out the podium for Class B.

Sigrid, Swan 56 yacht drops her spinnaker © Kurt Arrigo & Nautor's Swan

Sigrid, Swan 56 yacht drops her spinnaker © Kurt Arrigo & Nautor's Swan

Class C’s 8 mile long course took them from the Squadron Line up to Gurnard Ledge, to North East Gurnard, to Cowes Radio and then back for a finish in a dying sea breeze off the Squadron Line.  Jacobite, Swan 38 raced by Stephen James continued her domination of handicap racing in the Solent to win by 22 seconds on corrected time from the Swan 43, Cisne raced by Tony Thorpe.  Third place went to the stunning Cecille, Swan 36.

Transatlantic Race 2011: Sailing yacht Rambler 100 wins LINE HONORS

July 10, 2011

Sailing yacht Rambler 100, skippered by George David (Hartford, Conn.) crossed the finish line of the Transatlantic Race 2011 on Sunday 10th July at 16h 08m UTC. The elapsed time for Rambler 100 was 6d 22h 08m 2s. It has established a new record for the 2,975 nautical mile course from Newport, RI to Lizard Point, South Cornwall, UK, which is to be ratified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council.

Rambler 100 team celebrating at the Lizard Point finish in South Cornwall, U.K. (photo credit TR2011 Mark Lloyd)

Rambler 100 team celebrating at the Lizard Point finish in South Cornwall, U.K. (photo credit TR2011 Mark Lloyd)

Rambler 100′s George David Reflects on Transatlantic Crossing       

Rambler 100 skipper George David (Hartford, Conn.) spoke of his satisfaction after taking line honors in the Transatlantic Race 2011, just minutes after crossing the finish line at The Lizard, Cornwall, U.K.

“It was really nice to see David Aisher from the Royal Yacht Squadron greet us on the line with some Cornish pastries and some champagne and beer. We feel pretty good; it was a remarkably fast time.

Transatlantic Race 2011 Sailing yacht Rambler 100 wins LINE HONORS - Photo by Mark Lloyd

Transatlantic Race 2011 Sailing yacht Rambler 100 wins LINE HONORS - Photo by Mark Lloyd

“For the first 80 hours of this race we were ripping along; towards the end we hit a few holes in the wind, but the net speed average was 15.7 knots across the Atlantic, which I think is going to prove a record in its own right–as a speed record for any transatlantic race. We feel pretty good about that.

“Kenny Read is about 100 miles behind us with his PUMA Team. The odds are he is probably going to win the race on corrected time, but we will see what happens over the next 15 hours, which is about the amount of time that we give them.  We will keep a look out on the tracker, and we will see when the time expires, but just like politicians, we are not going to concede just yet.

“Flying along at 28 knots is an exhilarating experience but one that concentrates the mind. Rambler is a finely balanced machine and anything can go wrong and there are huge forces opposing each other.  If those forces go out of balance, bad things can happen very quickly. But as I say this has been an exhilarating race, where we have been well out of sight of land, completely unsupported and in a high performance machine, which you are taking close to the edge, for a very long time–that is, without doubt, exhilarating.”

Transatlantic Race 2011 - Record holding Rambler 100 (photo credit TR2011Mark Lloyd)

Transatlantic Race 2011 - Record holding Rambler 100 (photo credit TR2011Mark Lloyd)

Rambler 100 crossed the finish line of the Transatlantic Race 2011 on Sunday 10th July at 16h 08m UTC.

The elapsed time for Rambler 100 was 6 days, 22 hours, 8 minutes, 2 seconds.

It has established a new record for the 2,975 nautical mile course from Newport, R.I. to Lizard Point, South Cornwall, U.K., which is to be ratified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council.

Transatlantic Race 2011: Head Out Of The Boat

July 10, 2011

Newport, R.I. USA (July 9, 2011) – For the last 24-hours of the Transatlantic Race 2011, light air has persisted for virtually the entire fleet — frustrating the progress of nearly every boat.  Small gains in these conditions can be turned into massive advantages as finding breeze under a patch of cloud or during a rainsquall can deliver huge percentage gains and those few precious miles can mean getting into new breeze, hopefully hours before the opposition.

Sailing yacht Carina (photo credit TR2011Amory Ross)

Sailing yacht Carina (photo credit TR2011Amory Ross)

All of the yachts in the Transatlantic Race 2011 have access to detailed weather forecasts, and global weather models like NOAA’s GFS (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Global Forecast System) are great tools for understanding the broad weather pattern.  They run, however, at a resolution of 60km and are unlikely to pick up the local effects out in the Atlantic, especially as the fleet encounters land-produced effects.  Weather forecasting may have been around for over 100 years, but a sailor’s experience is often more reliable than any computer models.  A well-known yachting term, ‘head out of the boat’ is a very poignant factor right now.  Finding breeze in these fickle conditions is golden.

Rambler 100, skippered by George David (Hartford, Conn.), looks to be the odds-on favorite for line honors and is expected to cross the finish line at The Lizard, on the south coast of England, around mid-day Sunday, July 10.  PUMA Mar Mostro, skippered by Ken Read (Newport, R.I.) has taken a two percent time penalty allowing them to stack sails and is still currently leading IRC Class One on corrected time — although not the race overall.

Carina, the McCurdy and Rhodes 48 skippered by Rive Potts, Jr. (Essex, Conn.) which started the race on June 26 has that honor (current overall race leader).  There will probably be a national holiday in the yacht’s hometown if they pull off a win against such esteemed opposition.  Unfortunately, Carina was barely making any headway today and still has well over 700 miles to go.  Potts and his crew will be praying for more wind and the team will be doing everything they can to find it.  While looking to have a win in IRC Class Four sewn up, Carina only needs to average about five and a half knots to see them seriously challenge for the overall title.

In IRC Class Two, Jazz navigator Mike Broughton (Hamble, U.K.) reported via satellite phone this morning to say that they had found a fairly consistent breeze from the northwest and were making good headway.  Jazz is a firm favorite for taking class honors and still has an outside chance of taking an overall victory after time correction.

“The boat is immaculately clean, something that the crew all pride themselves in,” said Broughton confirming that – apart from the diet — all is well onboard.  “This morning we are enjoying some freeze-dried granola for breakfast, which is definitely our favorite energizer in the mornings.  However, every other day we have freeze-dried scrambled egg and I have to say that once we get ashore, I will be happy not to see that particular delicacy for a very long time.”

In IRC Cass Three, Zaraffa, the Reichel Pugh 65 skippered by Huntington Sheldon (Shelburne, Vt.), has just over 500 miles to go, along with a virtually unassailable lead in its class.  And in the Open Class, Phaedo, skippered by Lloyd Thornburg (St. Barths), has understandably enjoyed the lighter breeze, far more than its heavy weight opponent yacht Maltese Falcon.  The Lamborghini orange Gunboat 66 has skipped away some 40 miles ahead of the Perini Navi.

While the end of the race is approaching for the front runners, spare a thought for Mike Hennessey (Mystic, Conn.) and Rob Windsor (East Northport, N.Y.), who are sailing the Class 40 Dragon double-handed and who updated their progress by satellite link.

“In the past 24 hours we have achieved three milestones: We reached the most remote point we will get to in this race:  825 miles to Cape Spear, Newfoundland, to the west and 825 miles to Great Skellig Island, Ireland, to the east and 700 miles to Kap Farvel, Greenland to the north. I have no idea if any of those places even have a port we could get into, but it’s nice to know where you would have to bail out to!

“We passed the 1000-mile mark, with 980 some odd miles to go to the finish.  We have had our first upwind work of the entire race.  Currently slapping our way through short chop on our way east, under gray and cold skies.”

Transatlantic Race 2011: Joy and Pain

July 10, 2011

Newport, R.I. USA (July 8, 2011) – Breaking news from the North Atlantic is that just over 24 hours into the Transatlantic Race 2011, at 20:20 UTC on July 4th, ICAP Leopard had a major problem onboard when the bowsprit broke off on the 100’ Maxi yacht.  None of the crew was injured and the boat is still structurally sound, but the failure will have had significant effects on the yacht’s performance over the last four days. The ICAP Leopard yacht crew is obviously in a defiant mood; they have not only stayed in the race, but also have a real chance of winning on corrected time.

Onboard the 289' Superyacht Maltese Falcon (photo credit Jeremy Smith)

Onboard the 289' Superyacht Maltese Falcon (photo credit Jeremy Smith)

After three days of fast, adrenaline-pumping, downwind sailing in Atlantic swell, the leading boats in the Transatlantic Race 2011 have started to slow down.  There is a complex weather scenario around the fleet and the front-runners are in a transition zone between two weather systems with the result that boat speeds have fallen like a stone.  This has renewed hope for the chasing pack, which is still in pressure.  These boats are catching up with the leaders in their respective classes, but they too must negotiate the tricky, tactical part of this fascinating race.  It may seem counterintuitive, but light headwinds provide some of the most grueling conditions for the crews; the myriad sail changes mean hard physical work and just about every sailor out there will be feeling the effects of fatigue compounded by poor diet and lack of sleep.

The big tactical decision, as the yachts enter the transition zone, is angle of attack.  The yachts will be aiming to cross the doldrums in the wind at its narrowest point, minimizing the drop in boat speed.  This is not straightforward, however, as the pressure system ahead of them is a moving target and getting the boat into the correct position is a complex equation, one that will be different depending on where each boat is on the racecourse.

In IRC Class One, Rambler 100, skippered by George David (Hartford, Conn.), has slowed down to under half the speed achieved in their near record-breaking run of yesterday and the true wind has clocked around to the north, barely more than five knots.  However, the apparent wind created by Rambler 100 is allowing them to achieve over 10 knots of boat speed while another effect of this apparent wind is that they are now beating into this breeze.  If Rambler 100 has a weakness, it is beating into light air and PUMA’s Mar Mostro, skippered by Ken Read (Newport, R.I.), is reeling them in.  This morning, the two yachts were almost side-by-side on the water.  Beau Geste, skippered by Karl Kwok (Hong Kong), has kept to the rhumb line and is the most northerly yacht of the entire fleet.  Before the race, tactician Gavin Brady (Annapolis, Md.) commented that Beau Geste would need a variety of conditions to have a chance to win on corrected time and it would seem those wishes are coming true; perhaps their angle of attack to the north will pay big dividends.

Sailing yacht ICAP Leopard was still 100 miles behind Rambler 100 and PUMA’s Mar Mostro, but achieving a boat speed of over 17 knots gave fresh hope to ICAP Leopard skipper Clarke Murphy (New York, N.Y.).

Below is a video from ICAP Leopard during the Transatlantic Race 2011 after the bowsprit broke off on the 100’ Maxi yacht

“We are ripping along, it’s been a great ride and it still is,” said Murphy.  “We can see that yachts are parked up in front of us and we are still going fast and we are talking through the options that we have to take advantage of that.  The next day and a half could be the most important part of the race for us and so we are pushing as hard as we can. This race just started again and we are full in the new race.”

In IRC Class Two, Jazz, the Cookson 50 skippered by Nigel King (Lymington, U.K.), has seen its lead reduced and Varuna and Shakti, the two Rogers 46s behind them, are a big threat, especially after time correction.

“They are a big worry,” confirmed King by satellite link.  “Right now, we are barely making headway and we are fighting for every ounce of boat speed.  One of our greatest motivations is to do our best for the owner of Jazz, Chris Bull.  He cannot be with us due to family commitments and doing the best we can is our way of rewarding him for the gesture of letting us carry on and do this race without him.  All of the crew on Jazz is digging deep and morale is high.”

In IRC Class Three, Zaraffa has been a contender for the overall handicap prize since the start of the race.  “Zaraffa is a great boat with an excellent crew,” said skipper Huntington Sheldon (Shelburne, Vt.) speaking via satellite phone this morning.  “And although we slowed up for about an hour today, we believe we are through the ridge of high pressure and will be back up to speed very soon.  The weather models we have been looking at, and I am sure they are similar to the ones that are on the tracker, have not always been totally accurate but all is good on board and we are enjoying a fantastic race.”

The young team on the Class 40 Concise 2 lead by Ned Collier-Wakefield (Oxford, U.K.) is finding conditions tough on board.  “We are now beating into a northeasterly wind with a following sea, which is not the most comfortable angle for a Class 40,” said navigator Luke McCarthy (Cowes, U.K.) by satellite phone.  “The crew is all pretty tired and we are looking forward to finishing this race in a few days’ time.  It looks as though we will be into better conditions soon, but for the meantime it is hard going on Concise at the moment.”

By sharp contrast to life aboard the 40’ Concise 2, with six crew living in cramped, damp and difficult conditions, the 16 crew on the 289’ Perini Navi superyacht Maltese Falcon  are working hard but enjoying far more comfortable surroundings.  Recent pictures sent back from the Maltese Falcon show fabulous fare from a galley fit for a gourmet chef, a king size bed with crisp linen bed sheets and even a steam bath.

Life aboard the 26 yachts in the Transatlantic Race 2011 varies considerably, but one thing that will be common to all is fatigue.  Even on Maltese Falcon, running systems and maintaining the yacht is an arduous task for the crew.  Over the last few days, the adrenaline levels on board the racing yachts will have been spiking.  However, now that the boats have slowed, the come down off the adrenaline high will be huge.  How the sailors cope with this fatigue will become extremely important.  Concentration levels are of the utmost importance when driving the boat and trimming the sails.  With such a change in weather scenario ever present, navigators and tacticians will need to be at the top of their game just when their eyelids are begging to close.

Transatlantic Race 2011: Close, But No Cigar

July 08, 2011

Newport, R.I. USA (July 7, 2011) – Although conditions in the North Atlantic for the 26 yachts competing in the Transatlantic Race 2011 put at least one on pace to break speed sailing records, the existing record, set in 2008, will stand for a while longer.  Via satellite link, navigator Peter Isler (San Diego, California) detailed the knarly conditions of the last 24 hours aboard Rambler 100, which left Newport bound for The Lizard on July 3 (the final start of the three staggered starts for the participating yachts).

Sailing yacht Rambler 100 team - photo credit TR2011-Billy Black

Sailing yacht Rambler 100 team - photo credit TR2011-Billy Black

“As the sun sets on the fourth day of the Transatlantic Race, the crew aboard Rambler 100 has settled into the shipboard rhythm of the four-hour watches.  The drama this afternoon has been our watch on the numbers for our 24-hour run.  We’ve had some awesome sailing and in the end came just 12 miles shy of the 596 nautical mile (nm) 24-hour record set by the Volvo 70 Ericsson 4.

Sailing yacht Rambler 100 photo from offshore - photo courtesy of Rambler 100

Sailing yacht Rambler 100 photo from offshore - photo courtesy of Rambler 100

“Our 24-hour run from 1400 EDT yesterday to today was 582 miles.  Each hour we kept calculating, hoping for an increase, but the best we could do was 584 nm between the 1500 hours and the same for the 1600 hours.  The breeze has backed off a bit now, so the numbers are starting to decrease a bit.

“That was fun to watch – but the team’s focus is firmly on the race – sailing hard, making good decisions and no major mistakes.  This boat is so big, that every sail change takes a long time.  The sails are so heavy, the loads so great – that every step of the process takes time and often shared hands on the heavy loads.

“Looking forward – the big tactical decision that could decide this race is coming up tomorrow morning (our clocks are still on Newport R.I. time!), when it looks like the clocking wind will favor the other gybe for the first time since we started.  That’s always interesting after a few days sailing on one tack – getting used to the feel of going the other way.  The timing of the gybe is crucial because it looks to set up the track of the boat through probably the lightest winds we will see in this race… at the boundary between the low over Labrador and the low that’s been hovering over Ireland.  It looks like we are going to have some very light winds for what looks like about four hours before we connect into the northwesterly from the eastern low.

“So we’ll pick a ‘lane’ tomorrow morning – with the breeze still nice and fresh.  A few hours later we’ll see how our choice panned out as we enter the light air.  The weather models have a much harder time predicting the conditions in light winds compared to stronger winds (right now its blowing 23 knots) so there’s a bit of voodoo and luck involved.”

Indicating it was “time for a nap before all the action,” Isler signed off and sent along photos of the Rambler 100 team averaging over 24.5 knots of boat speed for over 26 hours.

Nautor’s Swan Hoists Flags for the 15th Swan European Regatta

July 08, 2011

Nautor’s Swan is hoisting flags at Cowes, Isle of Wight, marks the final lead up to the 2011 Swan European Regatta, running 9 – 15 July.  2011 marks the 15th edition for one of Swan’s flagship events.  Hosted by the globally renowned Royal Yacht Squadron, the regatta has attracted a number of international entries from 8 different nations.

46 Swan sailing yachts will participate across four Classes; A, B, C and the Swan 45 Class.  Racing will all be located in the Solent which has a reputation for its testing tidal conditions.  The Royal Yacht Squadron will be hosting this year’s Swan European Regatta in conjunction with Nautor’s Swan.  Founded back in 1851 and steeped in sailing history, the Squadron is known as one of the world’s most famous Yacht Clubs, inside the stunning setting of Cowes Castle.

Swan 53, Silveren Swaen, is on her way to Cowes this week with one aim of taking top position after finishing 2nd at their last Swan European Regatta and to then take time after the regatta to enjoy some cruising comforts.

Swan Sailing yacht Silveren Swaen Racing in Solent Style Strong Winds © Kurt Arrigo 09

Swan Sailing yacht Silveren Swaen Racing in Solent Style Strong Winds © Kurt Arrigo 09

Mr Bakker, Owner, Silveren Swaen, ‘we are aiming to continue our winning streak from the Rolex Swan Cup last year at Porto Cervo into 2011 on UK waters with Silveren Swaen.  Having taken 2nd place at the 2009 Swan European Regatta previously, a first place this year is definitely a priority for myself and the team. 

We have updated our sail inventory in preparation and made a few modifications to the Swan 53 in order to maximise her performance at Cowes.  I have chosen to race with the same core crew as they really understand the Swan characteristics under race conditions.  I am also looking forward to some family cruising around the UK with after the regatta to enjoy time on board Silveren Swaen away from the race circuit.’

Enrico Chieffi, Managing Director of Nautor’s Swan commented, ‘It will be a great pleasure to see so many familiar faces in the Swan Family during the 15th edition of the Swan European Regatta.  We are all anxious to see which Swan yachts will be inducted in this regatta’s Hall of Fame at the end of a week’s Solent racing. 

It is always a privilege at Cowes to see older models from past SwanLines so beautifully restored and still in top pedigree condition racing against the likes of the newer modern designs all with the same synonymous style of Nautor’s Swan.’

The first day of Swan European Regatta racing commences on Monday, July 11 with the final prize giving on Friday, July 15.  With 30 prizes to win, competition will be on the cards to secure beautifully crafted silverware.