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Transatlantic Race 2011: A Great First Day onboard Superyacht Maltese Falcon

July 01, 2011

Written by Chelsea Smith

The 289ft Perini Navi designed superyacht Maltese Falcon which is one of the largest privately-owned sailboats in the world had a fantastic start to the 2011 Transatlantic Race on the 29th of June, as described in Jeremy Smith’s blog, a Deckhand onboard sailing yacht Maltese Falcon.

Transatlantic Race 2011 A Great First Day onboard Superyacht Maltese Falcon

Transatlantic Race 2011 A Great First Day onboard Superyacht Maltese Falcon

“Yesterday afternoon, we had a fantastic start for the Transatlantic Race 2011. We were thrilled to see so many yachts and spectators come out to see us off! We started against Phaedo, the orange 66′ Gunboat catamaran, and they managed to sneak in front of us for now. After all, they weigh less than just one of our three rigs! Luckily, they aren’t too far ahead and we still have plenty of time to try and catch them. As of 1945 EST, S/Y Jazz is just off our starboard bow.

Transatlantic Race 2011: A Great First Day onboard Superyacht Maltese Falcon

Transatlantic Race 2011: A Great First Day onboard Superyacht Maltese Falcon

We had a great first 24 hours, covering about 320 nm with an average speed of 13.3kts, with 15-20kt winds and pretty flat seas. We have seen several whales and a few dolphins, and everybody is adjusting well to our life at sea.

We’ll keep you posted on our progress!”

Jeremy Smith

Phaedo and Maltese Falcon at the Transatlantic yacht race 2011 - Richard Langdon

Phaedo and Maltese Falcon at the Transatlantic yacht race 2011 - Richard Langdon

Transatlantic Race 2011: Perini Navi Sailing Yacht Maltese Falcon largest in fleet

June 16, 2011

Written by Chelsea Smith

The extremes of crossing the Atlantic Ocean will be experienced very differently by crews on the longest and shortest yachts competing in the upcoming Transatlantic Race 2011 (TR 2011).  This adventure challenge, which aims to add 2,975 nautical miles to its participants’ log books, is co-organized by the Royal Yacht Squadron, New York Yacht Club, Royal Ocean Racing Club and Storm Trysail Club.  The TR 2011 starts off Castle Hill in Newport, R.I. (on Sunday, June 26; Wednesday, June 29; and Sunday, July 3) and expects to greet its first finisher off Lizard Point in South Cornwall (UK) sometime in mid-July, depending on many things, not the least of which are the lengths of the boats making the crossing.

The 289-foot Maltese Falcon (shown here sailing in New York) will be the largest yacht in the 2,975 nm Transatlantic Race 2011.

The 289-foot Maltese Falcon (shown here sailing in New York) will be the largest yacht in the 2,975 nm Transatlantic Race 2011.

On the one hand there is the  Perini Navi designed sailing yacht Maltese Falcon, at 289 feet, one of the largest privately-owned sailboats in the world.  On the other there are two Class 40s, which at 40 feet are specially designed for short-handed offshore and coastal racing.  These extremes are punctuated by the fact that Maltese Falcon looks every bit the world cruiser, with stem-to-stern luxury incorporated into its design, while the Class 40s seem relatively stark–even like dinghies–in comparison. But each team at either end of the spectrum has its reasons for undertaking the TR2011 challenge, and each team intends to succeed, if not win.

“The experience of sailing on Maltese Falcon is incredible,” said the boat’s longtime captain Chris Gartner (Antibes, France). “Since there is no other boat in the world like it, it’s really a one-off. Every time I go sailing on her and we get her wound up, I’m almost in awe just looking up at the rigs.”

The yacht’s three self-standing and rotating carbon fiber masts, which carry 15 sails with a combined sail area the size of three and a half tennis courts (25,833 square feet), are of such an imposing height–190 feet, in fact—that recent visitors to Newport have experienced “the Falcon” at almost eye level as they’ve crossed the 206’ high Claiborne Pell Bridge, which serves as the gateway to Narragansett Bay and its adjacent Newport Harbor.

With its long waterline and such magnificent sail power, Gartner thinks superyacht Maltese Falcon has a good chance to win, but “it’s hit or miss with the weather,” he says.  “If we get good pressure coming up behind us and we stay with it, we could finish this race nicely.”

Gartner added that logging 500-mile days would make Maltese Falcon’s voyage about six days, but longer is more likely. “If we do it in less than 12, I would be very happy,” he said, noting that the World Sailing Speed Record Council will ratify a new Newport to Lizard Point race record based on the fastest yacht’s elapsed time.

And while S/Y Maltese Falcon will be dry and comfortable, and sailing with a large crew, the two Class 40s will be roughing it with minimum comfort, eating freeze-dried food and sailing with anywhere from two to six onboard.

Team Concise was set up four years ago by owner Tony Lawson (Haslemere, UK) specifically to encourage and develop young British offshore sailors and will be entered in the TR 2011’s challenge for the Youth Trophy.  His team of six (the maximum for the Class 40) will be skippered by Ned Collier-Wakefield (Oxford, UK).

“We sail six-up when allowed simply to give the largest number of young sailors a chance to do these big races,” said Lawson, explaining that the Class 40, built to a box rule and considered the world’s fastest growing offshore class, is designed for short-handed sailing, but several of the events on the class’s calendar are fully crewed. “So far, Concise teams have won the Class 40 World Championships, broken the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race record for a 40-foot boat, and twice set a new Class 40 course record at the RORC Caribbean 600.”

Sailing yacht Dragon, at 40 feet, will be the shortest yacht competing in the Transatlantic Race 2011 and will be sailed by a crew of two. Credit Billy Black

Sailing yacht Dragon, at 40 feet, will be the shortest yacht competing in the Transatlantic Race 2011 and will be sailed by a crew of two. Credit Billy Black

Sailing double-handed in the Class 40 division will be Michael Hennessey  (Mystic, Conn.) on Dragon.

“Just me and one other guy (co-skipper Rob Windsor) – less people to get along with,” joked Hennessey, adding seriously, “We’ll be on deck at the same time for sail changes, but otherwise it’s typically two hours on, two hours off.”

Hennessey was encouraged that in April of this year a Class 40, skippered by Eric Defert, sailed from Ambrose Light (off Sandy Hook, NJ) to Lizard Point (a distance of 2880 miles) in 11 days and 11 hours.

“That sort of sets the benchmark at the bottom end of the range; however, Eric was able to pick his weather system,” said Hennessey.  “I would be thrilled with anything less than 12 days. I’m realistically expecting 13 to 14 days, and upper end who knows? It’s up to the weather gods.” As for plotting Dragon’s course relative to the rest of the fleet scheduled for the June 29 start (that includes Maltese Falcon), Hennessey said, “We’ll be most conscious of where Concise 2 is, as she is our pace horse, if you will. For the rest of the fleet, I think it really depends on how the IRC (handicap rating) spread looks.”

There are 26 entries sailing in the TR 2011, with the U.S. fielding 10 teams, Germany six, the UK four, and South Africa, St. Barth’s, Italy, Monaco, China and Lithuania one each. The yachts will be tracked with Yellowbrick Trackers, self contained units that transmit the position of each boat at regular intervals using GPS and Iridium (a global satellite phone network). Synchronized position reports will be available to the public by using the Race Player Application at the website, where regular race reports will appear and Facebook and Twitter accounts are linked.  As well, throughout their journeys, many of the boats will be posting blogs and sending back photos and videos to the race website, so race fans can be further assured of an up-close and personal experience with the teams and the racing action.

Sponsors of the TR 2011 are Rolex, Thomson Reuters, Newport Shipyard, Perini Navi, and Peters & May.

TR 2011 Roster of Entries

Yacht Name, Skipper, Hometown

Ambersail, Simonas Steponavicius, Vilnius, Lithuania
Beau Geste, Karl Kwok, Hong Kong, China
British Soldier, Lt. Col. Nick Bate, Falmouth, Cornwall, U.K.
Carina, Rives Potts, Essex, Conn., USA
Concise 2, Ned Collier-Wakefield, Oxford, U.K.
Dawn Star, William N. Hubbard III /William N. Hubbard IV, both New York, N.Y., USA
Dragon, Michael Hennessy, Mystic, Conn., USA 
ICAP Leopard, Clarke Murphy, New York, N.Y., USA
Jaqueline IV, Robert Forman, Bay Shore, N.Y., USA
Jazz, Nigel King, East London, U.K.
 S/Y Maltese Falcon, Elena Ambrosiadou, Monaco
Norddeutcshe Vermoegen Hamburg, Eike Holst , Hamburg, Germany
Nordwind, Hans Albrecht, Munich, Germany
Ourson Rapide, Paolo Roasenda, Vedano al Lambro, Italy
Phaedo, Lloyd Thornburg, St. Barthelemy
Prodigy, Chris Frost, Durban, South Africa
PUMA Ocean Racing mar mostro, Ken Read, Newport, R.I., USA
Rambler 100, George David, Hartford, Conn., USA
Sasha, Albrecht Peters, Hamburg, Germany 
Scho-ka-kola, Uwe Lebens, Hamburg, Germany 
Shakti, Christoph Avenarius / Gorm Iver Gondesen, Hamburg, Germany / Flensburg, Germany
Snow Lion, Lawrence Huntington, New York, N.Y., USA
Sailing yacht Sojana, Peter Harrison, U.K.
Vanquish, USMMA Oakcliff All American Offshore Team, Kings Point, N.Y., USA
Varuna, Jens Kellinghausen, Hamburg, Germany
Zaraffa, Huntington Sheldon, M.D., Shelburne, Vt., USA

Transatlantic Race 2011 Entry List Includes Charter Yachts

May 03, 2011

Written by Mike Smith

While the water views from anywhere along Newport Harbor (R.I.) are already magnificent, they will be absolutely breathtaking in late June and early July when 32 ocean-going yachts set sail in the Transatlantic Race 2011, which charts a course that stretches 2,975 nautical miles from Newport to Lizard Point, at the end of a peninsula in South Cornwall (UK). This history-making event is organized by the Royal Yacht Squadron, New York Yacht Club, Royal Ocean Racing Club and Storm Trysail Club, with pre-start activities taking place at the New York Yacht Club’s Harbour Court clubhouse in Newport and the awards taking place at the Royal Yacht Squadron’s Cowes Castle clubhouse on the Isle of Wight, UK.

The fleet runs the gamut from sleek traditional designs, such as the 94’ William Fife-designed Sumurun, to sophisticated super yachts, such as the 289’ custom Perini Navi clipper sailing yacht Maltese Falcon, with three masts so tall (190’) they barely clear Newport’s towering Pell Bridge, which serves as a gateway to Rhode Island’s famous City by the Sea. And as those who are veterans of ocean racing will attest, crossing the Atlantic Ocean is no small feat, especially when storms, testing seas and even icebergs (still a danger in the North Atlantic in June) are included in the mix of challenges encountered.

The 289-foot Charter Yacht Maltese Falcon, one of the largest privately-owned sailing yachts in the world, will be a headliner at the Transatlantic Race 2011 which starts in late June. Photo by Roddy Grimes Graeme

The 289-foot Charter Yacht Maltese Falcon, one of the largest privately-owned sailing yachts in the world, will be a headliner at the Transatlantic Race 2011 which starts in late June. Photo by Roddy Grimes Graeme

Some of the Charter Yachts in the Transatlantic Race 2011:

The ICAP Leopard Clarke Murphy – Farr 100′
Ambersail Simonas Steponavicius – Farr 63′
Zaraffa Huntington Sheldon, MD – Reichel Pugh 65′
The Famous Maltese Falcon Charter Yacht Elena Ambrosiadou – Custom Perini Navi 289′

Towering above the 32 boat fleet that will set out on the 2,975 Transatlantic race is the 289-foot super modern super yacht Maltese Falcon, captained by Chris Gartner. Its three masts reach 190′ toward the sky and carry five square sails each, totalling 27,00o square feet. Gartner said Maltese Falcon has hit 24.9 nautical miles per hour, in a 60 mph puff.  She frequently sails between 16-20 knots. She tacks through 120 degrees, compared to most racing boats which can sail much closer to the wind and tack through fewer  than 90 degrees. As for the maximum heel Maltese Falcon can handle — 11 degrees, or “when the bottles of wine start falling out.”

Another transatlantic race to depart from Newport was the 2003 Daimler Chrysler North Atlantic Challenge, which took the entrants to a finish in Cuxhaven Germany Photo by Daniel Forster

“What I find so incredible with open-ocean racing is that there are very few things that you can do these days that are the same as what people did 400 years ago,” said Sumurun’s owner Robert Towbin . “You have such a sense of history when you’re out there and for a couple weeks you get to feel, in effect, the same way Columbus felt.”

Towbin has sailed Sumurun in two previous transatlantic races, winning the Classic Division in the 2005 Rolex Transatlantic Challenge and taking overall victory in the 1997 Atlantic Challenge Cup presented by Rolex. He is currently preparing his classic yacht, which was built in 1914, to endure what will be its first challenge of the 2011 sailing season. “If you have an older boat, a race of this complexity takes a lot out of it, so we are putting a lot of work into it to get it up to date,” said Towbin.

Three separate starts – June 26, June 29, and July 3 – are planned (Sumurun will be in the first start) to “stagger” the yachts of different sizes and ability so that they will arrive in England in proximity to each other. Challenging their crews both mentally and physically, the larger boats hope to finish the race in 8 to 12 days, while the smaller boats may take up to 18 to 22 days to finish.

In addition to class winners, whichever yacht finishes the course with the fastest elapsed time will set the benchmark for a new racing record from Newport to Lizard Point, to be ratified by the World Speed Sailing Council. Rolex watches will be awarded to the record holder and the overall winner (on corrected time) under IRC.

It’s anyone’s guess which of the true racing thoroughbreds entered might prevail. Among them, scheduled to depart in the final race group, are the VOR 70 crewed by PUMA Ocean Racing Team – the Newport-based second-place finisher in the 2008-09 Volvo Ocean Race and entrant in the next edition as well –, Rambler 100, George David’s maxi rocket ship that has been tearing up race courses since the beginning of the year, including breaking the record for the RORC Caribbean 600 and taking line honors at the Pineapple Cup-Montego Bay Race, and ICAP Leopard which holds the current record from Ambrose Light to Lizard Point for monohulls using powered sailing systems.

And if that’s not impressive enough, there will be two all-youth teams competing, one from Germany (aboard the Andrews 56 Norddeutsche Vermoegen in race start two) and one from the U.S.A. (the All American Offshore Team’s IRC 65 Vanquish in race start three). In addition, four Class 40s, high-performance monohulls designed specifically for shorthanded sailing, will have their own class (starting in the second group).

Panel Discussion
On April 26, the Royal Yacht Squadron, New York Yacht Club, Royal Ocean Racing Club and the Storm Trysail Club, organizers of the Transatlantic Race 2011, will host a TR2011 Panel Discussion at the Manhattan headquarters of race sponsor Thomson Reuters. Gary Jobson will moderate the discussion, which will focus on the history of transatlantic racing, the challenge and appeal of transoceanic racing, as well as the upcoming TR2011 and its entries. Panelists will include George David, owner/skipper of Rambler 100; Chris Gartner, captain of Maltese Falcon; Larry Huntington, owner/captain of Snow Lion; Bob Towbin, owner/captain of Sumurun and representing the Royal Yacht Squadron; Rives Potts, Rear Commodore of NYYC and owner/captain of Carina; and sailing historian and author John Rousmaniere. An audio feed of the program will be available live at 5:30 PM EDT (2230 Universal Time) at The event will be blogged live at on April 26th starting at 1730. You can also follow the event on Twitter @TransatRace2011.

The Atlantic Ocean Racing Series
The Transatlantic Race 2011 is the centerpiece of the Atlantic Ocean Racing Series (AORS), which includes the Pineapple Cup – Montego Bay Race, RORC Caribbean 600, the Annapolis to Newport Race, Rolex Fastnet Race, Biscay Race and the Rolex Middle Sea Race. Of the seven races in the AORS, three races, including the TR 2011 must be completed to qualify for a series victory. Each race is weighted equally in overall series scoring with the exception of TR 2011, which is weighted 1.5 times. All entered yachts are scored using their two best finishes in addition to the TR 2011. Awards for the AORS will be presented in November, 2011 at the New York Yacht Club’s Annual Awards Dinner in Manhattan.

Sponsors of the race are Rolex, Thomson Reuters, Newport Shipyard, Perini Navi, and Peters & May.

Transatlantic Race 2011 Entry List:
Status Yacht Name Owner/Skipper Yacht Type LOA

1 Entry Ambersail Simonas Steponavicius * Farr 63′
2 Entry Beau Geste Karl Kwok Farr 80 80′
3 Entry British Soldier ASA Army Sailing Assocation /
Lt Col Nicholas Bate Joubert-Nivett 40′
4 Entry Carina Rives Potts McCurdy & Rhodes 48′
5 Entry Concise 2 Ned Collier-Wakefield * Class 40 40′
6 Entry Cutlass Nick Halmos Class 40 40′
7 Entry Dawn Star William Hubbard III and William Hubbard IV C&C 46′
8 Entry Dragon Michael Hennessey Class 40 40′
9 Entry Hound Frank Eberhart A&R 60′
10 Entry ICAP Leopard Clarke Murphy * Farr 100′
11 Entry Jacqueline IV Robert Forman McCurdy & Rhodes 42′
12 Entry Jazz Chris Bull / Nigel King Cookson 50 50′
13 Entry Kamoa’e Eric LeCoq Class 40 40′
14 Entry Lee Overlay Partners Adrian Lee Cookson 50 50′
15 Entry Maltese Falcon Elena Ambrosiadou * Custom Perini Navi 289′
16 Entry Noonmark VI Sir Geoffrey Mulcahy Swan 56′
17 Entry Norddeutsche Vermoegen Hamburg Hamburgischer Verein Seefarht e.v. / Eike Holst Andrews 56′
18 Entry Nordwind Hans Albrecht Henry Gruber 86′
19 Entry Ourson Rapide Paolo Roasenda Finot-Conq 60′
20 Entry Persevere Arthur “Bugs” Baer / Colin Rath Judel/Vrolijk 54′
21 Entry Prodigy Chris Frost Simonis/Voogd 54′
22 Entry PUMA Ocean Racing PUMA / Ken Read VOR70 70′
23 Entry Rambler 100 George David Maxi 100′
24 Entry Sasha Albrecht Peters S & S 42′
25 Entry Scho-ka-kola Uwe Lebens Reichel Pugh 56′
26 Entry Shakti Avenarius & Gondesen Simon Rogers 46′
27 Entry Snow Lion Lawrence Huntington Ker 50′
28 Entry Sojana Peter R. Harrison CBE Farr ketch 115′
29 Entry Sumurun Robert Towbin W. Fife 94′
30 Entry Vanquish USMMA / All American Offshore Team Reichel Pugh 65′
31 Entry Varuna Jens Kellinghusen Simon Rogers 46′
32 Entry Zaraffa Huntington Sheldon, MD * Reichel Pugh 65′

* Indicates Charter Yachts

34th Americas Cup: AC72 Class Rule finalized and published

October 18, 2010

Written by Chelsea Smith

The new Wingsailed 72ft catamaran will transform America’s Cup racing. From concept to completed Class Rule in less than four months, full details of the new high-performance wingsailed catamaran were published on Saturday.

The new Wingsailed 72ft catamaran will transform America's Cup racing - Credit Americas Cup

The new Wingsailed 72ft catamaran will transform America's Cup racing - Credit Americas Cup

The spectacular AC72 catamaran ensures that the 34th America’s Cup will feature the best sailors in the world on the fastest boats.

The AC72 Class Rule moves America’s Cup racing to catamarans with a speed potential of three times the wind speed, putting the venerable competition back at the forefront of technology.

The finalized class rule represents a tireless effort by Pete Melvin and his team at Morrelli & Melvin Design & Engineering Inc to create a new boat on behalf of the America’s Cup community.

On July 2, to ensure the rule was created independently, the defending Golden Gate Yacht Club and its sailing team BMW ORACLE Racing presented a two page concept paper to US SAILING and Morrelli & Melvin and asked them to turn it into a fully- formed multihull design rule.

Throughout the AC72’s gestation, the fundamental requirements have remained unchanged:

•    Ensure fast, exciting racing
•    Challenge sailors and designers
•    Capture fans’ imagination
•    Be versatile across the wind range, to minimize race delays
•    Be capable of competitive racing in light and strong winds
•    Incorporate wide-ranging cost-reduction features

“The AC72s will look amazing, will be very fast, and will take the America’s Cup into a new dimension,” said Melvin, himself a multihull champion.

“There will be nothing else like them, which perfectly matches the allure and appeal of the America’s Cup,” Melvin added. “We are grateful for the input of many, many designers, sailors and other experts.”

On September 16 a draft was circulated to potential teams and the sailing community at large. Since then over 500 comments were received and assimilated by Melvin’s team. Many have been incorporated into the final rule, including significant cost-reduction initiatives compared to the 32nd America’s Cup:

•    11-person crews (reduced from 17 on ACC class monohulls)
•    Boat lengths reduced to 72 feet from 82 feet
•    No-sailing periods enforced
•    Simple crane lift in/lift out – no special hoists or docks required
•    Shipping and centralized logistics paid for by event
•    Liberalized design rules encouraging non-exclusive design
•    Consolidated competitor facilities at World Series: sail lofts, workshop etc
•    World Series negates need for permanent team fixed-bases
•    Centralized meteorological service and ban on weather boats

Teams may design and build a maximum of two AC72 catamarans. The AC72s will be raced from the 2012 season onwards in America’s Cup World Series events that will lead to the Selection Series and the America’s Cup Match in 2013.

In 2011, teams will compete in identical AC45’s, “the little sister with attitude.” This one-design catamaran will provide teams with state-of-the-art wingsail technology and fast-track their multihull racing skills.