International Maxi Association Brief

International Maxi Association Luxury Yacht Charter & Superyacht News

Yacht Club Costa Smeralda to host first-class events this year

March 02, 2015

With the start of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda‘s sailing season just a few short days away, the Club’s busy 2015 calendar was presented to journalists as well as sponsors at a press conference in Milan’s Four Seasons hotel. An amazing list of regattas set to be held from March to November is set to have owners, yachtsmen and some of the world’s most impressive vessels flocking to the Club’s twin bases in the fantastic Virgin Gorda yacht charter destination, nestled in the British Virgin Islands, as well as Porto Cervo, positioned in Sardinia.

Riccardo Bonadeo, YCCS Commodore - YCCS Press Conference

Riccardo Bonadeo, YCCS Commodore – YCCS Press Conference

The Yacht Club Costa Smeralda’s winter base in the renowned sailing paradise of the British Virgin Islands is ready and waiting for a spectacular fleet of Swan yachts to start the season in style with the Rolex Swan Cup Caribbean (3-7 March), a biennial event held in alternate years to the historic Rolex Swan Cup regatta organized by YCCS, Rolex and Nautor’s Swan in the Mediterranean. The Loro Piana Caribbean Superyacht Regatta and Rendezvous (11-14 March), now in its fifth edition, follows on immediately and brings a fleet of imposing sailing yachts to the BVI. The first portion Caribbean events concludes with the Oyster Cup BVI (13-18 April).

The first boats on the water in Porto Cervo, as always, will be the Club’s Smeralda 888 one-design sloops competing in the Vela & Golf regatta (22-24 May). The fast and highly manoeuvrable vessels, designed by German Frers for YCCS, will be back in action for the Coppa Europa Smeralda 888 (26-28 June) and the Members Championship on 9th August. During the summer “break” a team of YCCS members will also race in Cowes in celebration of the Royal Yacht Squadron‘s bicentenary.

Roberto Kerkoc, Vice President of the Board - YCCS Press Conference

Roberto Kerkoc, Vice President of the Board – YCCS Press Conference

The Mediterranean superyacht season kicks off in Porto Cervo with the Dubois Cup (28-30 May), a biennial event dedicated to the elegant creations of British naval architects Dubois Yachts. The Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta (2-6 June) follows, bringing with it the perfect blend of sport and style that has been attracting the world’s top sailing yachts since 2008. The sailing giants return in force in September for the Perini Navi Cup (2-5 September), open only to vessels from the Italian shipyard acclaimed for seamlessly combining cutting edge technology with luxury finishes. The season concludes with the traditional Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship (6-12 September) organized in collaboration with the International Maxi Association and Rolex, longstanding official partner of the Club.

Lovers of more purely “combative” racing yachts also have plenty to look forward to as Porto Cervo once again hosts a leg of the 52 Super Series, the Settimana delle Bocche (9-13 June). The RC44 class, another fiercely competitive fleet, visits the Costa Smeralda for the first time on the heels of last year’s successful inaugural event in Virgin Gorda. The Audi RC44 Regatta (16-21 June), is organized in collaboration with Audi, official automotive partner of the YCCS.

YCCS Press Conference - Milan, 27 February 2015

YCCS Press Conference – Milan, 27 February 2015

The fleet will in fact return to the picturesque waters of the British Virgin Islands for the RC44 BVI Regatta (24-29 November), an event which concludes the season for the class created by Russell Coutts and brings a very busy year for the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda to a close.

The 2015 season will also be a demanding one for Azzurra, the sporting symbol of the YCCS which this year launches a new hull built at the King Marine yard in Valencia. The TP52 owned by Alberto Roemmers will make her debut in the 52 Super Series in Valencia (19-23 May), before visiting Porto Cervo (9-13 June), Porto Portals – Spain (14-18 July), and Palma de Mallorca (4-8 August), and finally Cascais – Portugal (16-20 September).

“We are looking forward to a very full season which will entail both a lot of hard work and a great deal of satisfaction. The Club is now running at full sail all year round with our Mediterranean and Caribbean bases. What makes this possible is the dedication of the YCCS team and our partners Rolex, Audi and UBS who share our key values and allow us to remain at the forefront of a sector which is in continual evolution,” commented YCCS Commodore Riccardo Bonadeo during the conference.

 

A mixed bag of IRC delights on offer at this month’s RORC Caribbean 600 Yacht Race

February 19, 2015

Set to kick off in the fantastic Antigua yacht charter location on Monday, February 23, the upcoming RORC Caribbean 600 will be attended by over 60 yachts and is a good example of the diversity of yachts enjoying racing under IRC.  The IRC rating system is the choice of state-of-the-art yachts such as the Maxi 72s, TP 52s, Wally Yachts, as well as 100 foot Maxis, comprising the latest superyacht Ragamuffin 100 from Australia and sailing yacht Comanche constructed in Maine.

George David's superyacht Rambler 90 on the IRC Class 0 start line of last year's RORC Caribbean 600. Photo by Tim Wright photoaction.com

George David's superyacht Rambler 90 on the IRC Class 0 start line of last year's RORC Caribbean 600. Photo by Tim Wright/photoaction.com

Holding an IRC rating allows these yachts to compete for top honours in races such as the Rolex Sydney Hobart, Fastnet and Middle Sea Races, and regattas run under the auspices of the International Maxi Association including their World Championship.

The highest currently rated boat under IRC is the Reichel/Pugh Maxi yacht Wild Oats XI at 1.974 closely followed by Comanche at 1.958 and much has been written about the battle between these two in the 2014 Sydney Hobart both for line honours and corrected time, and it is very exciting to see boats like this racing under IRC.

The upcoming RORC Caribbean 600 boasts an entry of over 60 boats and is a good example of the diversity of boats enjoying racing under IRC.  It illustrates how IRC allows designs like the Volvo Open 70 (Monster Project & Maserati, 2008) to continue racing competitively, and gives a new lease of life to older racers – Volvo 60s (Ambersail & Spirit of Adventure, 2001) and classics (Cuilaun, 1970 McGruer 55; Black Watch 1938 S&S 68 yawl). Meanwhile superyachts such as charter yacht Athos (56m) and superyacht Adela (46m) add a different dimension and glamour to the fleet.  However, reflecting IRC’s main constituents, it is production boats between 37 and 50 feet that form the core 50% of the entrants.

RORC Caribbean 600 provides a mixed bag of IRC delights,says RORC Rating Office Technical Manager, Jenny Howells.

There’s something for everyone within IRC

The exciting, glamorous boats are of course important in IRC, not least because so many of us aspire to compete in the high profile glamorous regattas in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. However, it is also important to remind the general racing fraternity that it is the core fleet that has kept the rating rule afloat for over thirty years. Looking at the last couple of years, the lowest rated boat is a 1964 Kroes en Zonen Classic Blue Eagle of Tonbridge at 0.740 while the average IRC rating for the worldwide IRC fleet is 1.035.

Far from the dizzy lengths of superyachts, the average boat length is 11.5 metres, or around 38 feet.  With the recession of the last few years, there are many more sailors racing smaller boats and having just as much fun as those who are fortunate to own and race the glamour boats. IRC rating encourages a huge variety of sizes and types of boats to compete in events from local club racing to international offshore events, allowing everyone to enjoy mixed fleet racing no matter what their budget.

Esimit Europa project celebrating 20 years this year

January 13, 2015

The Esimit Europa project is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The project originally started by connecting two bordering cities between Slovenia and Italy, when Igor Simčič started realizing his vision of providing a symbol of the blurring borders. In 1995, first with the help and support of the mayors of the both bordering cities, he introduced the Esimit Gorizia & Nova Gorica sailing project. The project has been extending across boundaries ever since and gradually becoming more and more European. The yacht representing the project was granted the honourable privilege to sail under the European flag in 2002 and under the patronage of the European commission since 2006.

Esimit Europa 2 superyacht at the 2014 Rolex Capri Sailing Week - Photo by Francesco Ferri

Esimit Europa 2 superyacht at the 2014 Rolex Capri Sailing Week - Photo by Francesco Ferri

Since 2010, the project has been represented by one of world’s fastest and technologically most advanced yachts, superyacht Esimit Europa 2, and its multinational sailing team, composed of European and World champions, Olympic Games medallists, multiple time winners of the America’s Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race sailing races, coming from 11 different countries. With 35 consecutive wins since its christening in 2010, Esimit Europa 2 has carried the message of a successful and united Europe around the world.

Numerous official and personal endorsements that the project has received from the most distinguished European diplomats, including the official support of the European Commission, Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, presidents of European countries and governments, foreign ministers and ambassadors prove that it is much more than a sailing project. Throughout the 20 years of the project’s history , by organizing high level receptions and events, it has served as a platform for establishing and fostering sports, diplomatic and business connections, and by engaging in charity activities it extended the message of friendship and collaboration and connected all people without boundaries.

In the jubilee racing season of 2015 sailing yacht Esimit Europa 2 will again be spreading the message of collaboration at some of the classic races in the Mediterranean and conclude it with a gala event dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Esimit Europa project. The gala will be organized at the premises of the Yacht Club de Monaco, which is the home yacht club of the European flagged maxi.

Before that, with an early opening of the season in May, Esimit Europa 2 will participate in one of the first races for the maxis in the Mediterranean, the Volcano Race, at which she participated last year for the first time and took the line honours. In its fifth edition this 400 nautical miles long race will start from Gaeta, and go to Eolian Islands and back to Gaeta. The race will be organized by the International Maxi Association, in association with the Yacht Club Gaeta E.V.S. and the Base Nautica Flavio Gioia.

From there, Esimit Europa 2 yacht will continue to San Remo for the start of the Mediterranean classic in June – the Giraglia Rolex Cup – taking part in both offshore races of the event. First she will participate in the regatta from San Remo to St. Tropez that kicks off from the dock of the Yacht Club San Remo at midnight. This will already be the 6th edition of the approximately 60 nautical miles long offshore race. The team will then prepare for one of the most renown offshore races in the Mediterranean, the famous 242 nautical miles long Giraglia Rolex Cup set from St. Tropez, around the rocky Giraglia Island and back to Genoa. Esimit Europa 2 participated in this race already four times, each time taking line honours, while in 2012 she set an amazing course record of 14 hours, 56 minutes and 16 seconds, smashing the previous one by 3 hours and 6 minutes.

Next on schedule, in August, is the 500 nautical miles sailing challenge, the Palermo – Montecarlo Race, that is set across the Mediterranean, joining two coastal cities, Palermo and the Principality of Monaco. It is organized by the Circolo della Vela Sicilia in collaboration with the Yacht Club de Monaco. After setting a course record in 2010 and taking line honours in 2011 and 2012, Esimit Europa 2 superyacht will participate in this race for the fourth time.

Being the leading yacht that races for the Yacht Club de Monaco, it will be a special privilege for the Esimit Sailing Team to participate in this race with a destination of the course set in front of her home yacht club, even more so during a jubilee year in which the celebration of 20 years of the Esimit Europa project takes place after this race.

With this event the European flagged maxi will not only conclude the racing season of 2015, but also stand as a symbol of the Esimit Europa project’s 20 year story.

RORC Transatlantic Race is Born

December 23, 2014

The very first RORC Transatlantic Race, in partnership with the International Maxi Association (IMA), kicked off on Sunday 30 November from Puerto Calero, Lanzarote, Canary Islands bound for Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina, a lovely Grenada yacht charter destination in West Indies, 3000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean. An international fleet of yachts participated, with crew from at least 12 different nations racing majestic Maxi yachts, crewed by top professional sailors, as well as production yachts crewed by friends and family.

Line Honours and Overall victory for Jeremy Pilkington's Baltic 78 charter yacht Lupa of London - Image by RORC Arthur Daniel & Orlando K Romain

Line Honours and Overall victory for Jeremy Pilkington's Baltic 78 charter yacht Lupa of London - Image by RORC/ Arthur Daniel & Orlando K Romain

For all the yachts, the adventure started long before the start line. It takes months, sometimes years for the dream of racing across the Atlantic to become a reality, and many of the yachts sailed thousands of miles, just to make Lanzarote.

Historians argue as to whether the Vikings, an Irish Monk or others were the first to cross the Atlantic. Since the five-week voyage of Christopher Columbus in 1492, crossing the Atlantic, quickly and safely from Europe has always been an important part of seafaring history. The Royal Ocean Racing Club’s RORC Caribbean 600 is now in its seventh year and the RORC decided that a dedicated feeder race for the Caribbean‘s premier offshore event was required.

Journey to the start line

Derek Hatfield’s, Volvo 60, Spirit of Adventure started their journey from the frozen shoreline of Novia Scotia, 2,800 miles away, crossing the Atlantic to join the race. Marc Lepesqueux racing Sensation Class 40 should not have been in the race at all. After keel failure in the Route du Rhum, Marc sailed Sensation to Lanzarote and successfully completed the race with a novice crew from France. Yves and Isabelle Haudiquet, racing Pogo 40, Bingo was the only husband and wife team in the race, completing their second Atlantic crossing together. Every team have their story from the race and their feelings and emotions have been captured in the race blog.

Prior to the start, Puerto Calero Marina provided an exceptional base for the yachts to prepare for the race. The Calero family are yacht racers themselves and this was evident in the manner in which the entire staff went out of their way to assist the competitors.

Overall winners and first recipients of the RORC Transatlantic Race Trophy as well as the IMA Trophy for Line Honours - charter yacht Lupa of London's crew enjoy a warm Grenadian welcome and a huge basket of local goodies on arrival

Overall winners and first recipients of the RORC Transatlantic Race Trophy as well as the IMA Trophy for Line Honours - charter yacht Lupa of London's crew enjoy a warm Grenadian welcome and a huge basket of local goodies on arrival Image by RORC/ Arthur Daniel & Orlando K Romain

Safety first

For the RORC Transatlantic Race, safety is of primary concern and every yacht, prior to the start, is inspected for ISAF Special Regulations Category 1, plus additional requirements covering; communication equipment, personal survival training and First Aid, which is part of the RORC commitment to safety at sea during all of the club’s racing activities. In addition to the safety requirements, every yacht carries a YB Tracker so that their progress can be followed by friends and family from ashore. The tracker provides real-time leaderboards and weather information, as well as their track across the ocean.

As well as providing superb facilities, Puerto Calero Marina was the venue for a week of social activities, notably the Westerhall Rums Pink Hat Party on the Tuesday and RORC Transatlantic Race Gala Party on the Thursday before the race.

After a 24 hour delay due to a frontal system which swept through the Canary Islands, bringing more than 45 knots of wind, the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race was blessed with sunshine and a gentle northerly breeze. The only abnormal weather feature was a perfect double rainbow, pointing the way to the turning mark off Marina Lanzarote, Arrecife – the only mark of the course before the fleet would make landfall in Grenada.

Windfall, the Russian chartered Southern Wind 94, skippered by Fabrizio Oddone put up a fight to the finish with Lupa for Line Honours. Some of the Russian sailors completed their Ocean Yachtmaster during the crossing

Superyacht Windfall, the Russian chartered Southern Wind 94, skippered by Fabrizio Oddone put up a fight to the finish with Lupa for Line Honours. Some of the Russian sailors completed their Ocean Yachtmaster during the crossing Image by RORC/ Arthur Daniel & Orlando K Romain

The Race is on..and results

Line Honours & Overall Winner:

GBR Jeremy Pilkington’s Baltic 78, Lupa of London

In the battle for Line Honours and the IMA Line Honours Trophy, there was an early exit for the hot favourite the Finot-Conq 100 superyacht Nomad IV, sailed by Jean-Paul Riviere. On Day Three, gear failure forced the French Maxi to head back to the Canary Islands for repairs. Russian chartered Southern Wind 94 superyacht Windfall, skippered by Fabrizio Oddone and Jeremy Pilkington’s British Baltic 78 charter yacht Lupa of London took up the running and an epic battle ensued for Line Honours. The two powerful Maxis duelled for 3000 miles with the lead swapping hands on numerous occasions. However, Lupa of London eventually got the better of Windfall in the lighter downwind conditions as the two yachts approached Grenada.

Lupa of London arrived at Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina in an elapsed time of 11 days, 01 hour, 38 minutes and 55 seconds, setting the record for others to beat in future editions of the race. Windfall crossed the finish line less than four hours later to win IRC Zero. The Russian flagged Maxi crew included world-class professionals; Lorenzo Mazza, a seven-time America’s Cup veteran and winner of the 32nd edition with Alinghi; multiple world champion, Francesco Mongelli and Irish Olympic Finn sailor, Tim Goodbody, as well as the Russian charter crew.

With the majority of the fleet still racing, the overall winner after IRC time correction was undecided. However, as the rest of the fleet started finishing, it was clear that Lupa of  London’s corrected time was not to be beaten and the British Maxi scored the double win of Line Honours and Overall under IRC, lifting the RORC Transatlantic Race Trophy and the IMA Line Honours Trophy. Skipper, Daniel Stump was full of praise for the team.

“We were only eight crew, but they are some top sailors with great commitment and willpower. We worked really hard and seamlessly together to get the boat going as fast as we could and I am really proud of all the crew. On the delivery to Puerto Calero, Lanzarote, I sat down with navigator, Jonny Malbon and in our dreams we wanted to take Line Honours and the overall win, but that was a big call, so this really is a dream come true.”

IRC One – USA Class40 Oakcliff Racing

Two highly different teams battled for the class win, with the intensity of the duel propelling the two yachts to second and third overall. The highly experienced crew on board Aref Lahham’s Swan 68,Yacana are all friends from Greece, racing a heavy displacement yacht that they have known for years. In sharp contrast, Class40 Oakcliff Racing, was crewed by four young American sailors who had never crossed the Atlantic before, let alone raced across any ocean. They only started sailing the Class40 on the delivery to Lanzarote.

Oakcliff Racing crossed the finish line on Friday 12th December to win IRC One and take second overall. There was an emotional scene on board as the team congratulated each other with handshakes and bear-hugs. Navigator, Hobie Ponting spoke about the adventure.

“That was epic. We have crossed an ocean and it’s the first time any of us have done it and it feels fantastic. The last 24 hours was the hardest of all. We had very little wind and it was frustrating having spent days charging along at 20 knots. We have all worked so well together and we have finished this race better friends than we started. We don’t know what day it is right now and a shower, some good food and a bed with sheets is top priority.”

Two days later, on Sunday 14th December, Yacana crossed the finish line to take second in IRC One and third overall. Aref Lahham spoke dockside: “This adventure started in Greece over 5,000 miles away. When I heard about the RORC race, it was the ideal way to celebrate all the years we have sailed together. The camaraderie during the race was really memorable for me and when we crossed the line, we all got together and had a great moment. We have spent a lot of time smiling during the race and I am sure that will continue now that we have reached Grenada.”

IRC Two – GBR Nigel Passmore’s  J/133, Apollo 7

Nigel Passmore’s British J/133, Apollo 7, crossed the finish line on Monday 15th December 2014 with an elapsed time of 15 days, 08 hours, 45 minutes and 15 seconds, to win the class ahead of Frank Lang’s French X-40, Optim’X.

Nigel Passmore spoke dockside in Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina about the race and why he decided to take part:

“At the beginning of this race, we went through the hard bit and we had a blustery period mid-Atlantic and I remember one night at the wheel in well over 30 knots of wind. It was pitch black with torrential rain and difficult to read the waves. We didn’t take the kite down or put another reef in, we kept pushing hard. You know you have to keep driving on if you are going to succeed. This is something I have wanted to do for 20 years or more.”

IRC Three – FRA Denis Villotte’s JNP 12, Sérénade

Denis Villotte’s French JNP 12, Sérénade, crossed the finish line on Friday 19th December with an elapsed time of 18 days, 20 hours, 01 minutes and 55 seconds. The three-man team on Sérénade was the final yacht to complete the inaugural race and was the winner of IRC Three.

“That was very hard,” commented Denis. “The first half because of the changing winds and the second half because we were fighting against the light winds. For the last seven days we had just nine knots of wind and we had no spinnaker for the last three days. Both Alain and Pit were close friends before the race. I knew them but less, but we are all close friends now! This is my second transatlantic, the first one was a lot easier as we had much more regular and better winds. For this race, the variety of conditions has made it far more interesting from a navigational point of view.  We are delighted to be here in Grenada to such a fantastic welcome in the middle of the night. We were just looking forward to making land and when we saw Grenada, our joy was huge, but to arrive with so many smiling faces was just incredible.”

Thank you Grenada

Tribute must be paid to the people of Grenada and the management and staff at Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina. Every yacht, regardless of the time of day or night was greeted at the finish line by the marina and escorted to the dock for a warm reception and a cold beer and a basket of Grenadian goods, including Westerhall Rums. During their stay, the helpful staff assisted with immigration, hotel accommodation, island tours and all manner of yacht services. The people of Grenada were just as welcoming.

The RORC Transatlantic Race comes to an end close to Christmas, a time for goodwill to all and there is no finer a place than Grenada to experience that feeling of kindness.

RORC Transatlantic Race 2014 Prizegiving

December 23, 2014

The RORC Transatlantic Race 2014 Prizegiving was hosted by the Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina, a beautiful Grenada yacht charter location, nestled in the Caribbean. Guest of honour was the Honourable Yolanda Bain-Horsford, Minister of Tourism & Civil Aviation of Grenada. Newly elected RORC Commodore Michael Boyd opened proceeding by thanking the Government of Grenada, Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina, Puerto Calero Marina, as well as Westerhall Rums for their generous support.

Winner of the RORC Transatlantic Race - Lupa of London, Baltic 78. Fred Pilkington collects a hoard of trophies © RORC/Arthur Daniel & Orlando K Romain

Winner of the RORC Transatlantic Race - Baltic 78 charter yacht Lupa of London. Fred Pilkington collects a hoard of trophies © RORC/Arthur Daniel & Orlando K Romain

Jeremy Pilkington’s Baltic 78 charter yacht Lupa of London was announced as the first winner of the RORC Transatlantic Race Trophy with the best elapsed time under IRC. Class winners received an engraved crystal decanter and all competitors present received a special edition bottle of Westerhall Plantation Rum, with the insignia of the RORC Transatlantic Race.

Andrew McIrvine, RORC Admiral & Secretary General of the International Maxi Association (IMA), presented the exquisite silver IMA Line Honours Trophy and the best IMA Members’ Plaque to Fred Pilkington of Lupa of London.

RORC Transatlantic Race Prizegiving

RORC Transatlantic Race Prizegiving © RORC/Arthur Daniel & Orlando K Romain

Distinguished guests included; Nikoyan Roberts – Grenada Tourism Authority, RORC Chief Executive – Edward Warden Owen, Glynn Thomas – Camper & Nicholsons Marinas and Graham Williams & Nick Kingsman Westerhall Rums. After the Prize Giving a succulent barbecue buffet was appreciated by the competitors and invited guests.

RORC Transatlantic Race 2014: Day 4

December 03, 2014

The early hours of today, Wednesday, December 3, 2014, saw the Finot-Conq 100 superyacht Nomad IV, sailed by Jean-Paul Riviere at the currently running RORC Transatlantic Race, reach Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. The assessment of the broken boom is that it cannot be repaired well enough to rejoin the race and, sadly, sailing yacht Nomad IV has officially retired.

Superyacht Windfall, Southern Wind 94 - next stop Grenada © Puerto Calero James Mitchell

Superyacht Windfall, Southern Wind 94 - next stop Grenada © Puerto Calero/James Mitchell

500 miles offshore into the Atlantic, the battle is raging for Line Honours. Russian Southern Wind 94 luxury yacht  Windfall, skippered by Fabrizio Oddone, is just ahead of Jeremy Pilkington’s British RP78 charter yacht Lupa of London. Since the start on Sunday, both yachts have recorded the same VMG, a mathematical indication of the intensity of the race between the two Maxis vying for the IMA Trophy, and this morning the two yachts gybed less than a mile apart with Windfall just retaining the lead on the water.

Lupa’s crew are starting to settle into the routine and Fred Pilkington reported: “The sea state has settled down and we are now cruising along nicely with the kite. The team is being fuelled by Chef, Sofia Winghamre McCarter’s premium grub and there was nearly calamari on the menu following an incident at midnight when an airborne squid struck Captain Dan Stump on the head. Once we overcame our puzzlement as to what it was, we decided to return it to whence it came!”

Aref Lahham’s Swan 68 sailing yacht Yacana, is still estimated to be leading IRC One, although big gains have been made during the last 24 hours by Marc Lepesqueux’s Class40, Sensation Class 40. The wind has veered to the east and this downwind angle with rolling waves is much more suited to Sensation than Yacana. Class40 Oakcliff Racing, skippered by Hobie Ponting, is also revelling in the downwind surf but two big gybes out to the north didn’t look like they paid off.

Aref Lahham and crew of Swan 68 Yacht Yacana  © Puerto Calero James Mitchell

Aref Lahham and crew of Swan 68 Yacht Yacana © Puerto Calero/James Mitchell

In IRC Two Nigel Passmore’s British J/133, Apollo 7, has taken up a southerly position compared to their rivals Frank Lang’s French X 40, Optim’X. Apollo 7 may well have taken up this position to avoid an area of high pressure to the north and it looks to be paying off, as Apollo 7 was 26 miles ahead of Optim’X on the water and also estimated to be leading the class after time correction under IRC.

The RORC Transatlantic fleet have now spent three nights at sea and any vestiges of daily-life on dry land will have vanished. The watch system on board the yachts has become the rhythm of life. Day or night, the sailors will take it in turn to drive, trim and manoeuvre their yachts, putting faith in the others when it is time to rest below.

Swan Yacana has the luxury of a full galley and refrigeration and the mainly Greek crew sent a message from the boat, which gives a flavour of life on board: “The rule is no dry food on this boat. Our breakfast is a choice of jams, toast, honey, yoghurt, fruits, juices, coffee or tea and a variety of cereal. Main meal: A beef ragout (Kokkinisto Mosharaki) with spaghetti or rice (for the more sensitive stomachs), a salad with plenty of fresh scallions and dill, plenty of lemon and of course, Virgin Greek olive oil. Dinner was Linguini Bolognaise and fruits. I know your next question: Are these guys sailing or eating? Bon appétit!” – S/Y Yacana.

Denis Villotte’s JNP 12, Sérénade, has just three crew on board. The French team will have two on deck, driving and trimming for 3 hours, while the third crew member sleeps; a real challenge to resilience, stamina and seamanship. Denis Villotte spoke to the RORC media team before departure. “I would like to make a faster crossing than the previous one (16 days 4 hrs) which won’t be easy as the distance is a bit longer and winds might be weaker. Crossing the Atlantic with the trade winds is not so easy when you are racing. You may get sudden strong squalls, especially before dawn and you have to be swift and reactive, requiring everyone to be on deck for the manoeuvre. We are a small crew and the automatic pilot won’t be allowed, so the race is going to be a real challenge. I hope we’ll be able to make a good result in the race. Whatever happens, it’s always a great moment to steer a yacht running downwind in the trades with her spinnaker flying.”

The inaugural RORC Transatlantic Race, in association with the International Maxi Association (IMA), started on Saturday 30th November 1000 UTC from Puerto Calero, Lanzarote, Canary Islands bound for Grenada, West Indies, 2,995 nautical miles across the Atlantic Ocean.

RORC Transatlantic Race 2014: Day 3

December 02, 2014

The first RORC Transatlantic Race, in partnership with the International Maxi Association (IMA), kicked off on Saturday 30th November 1000 UTC from Puerto Calero, Lanzarote, Canary Islands bound for the beautiful Grenada yacht charter destination, nestled in West Indies, 2,995 nautical miles across the Atlantic Ocean.

Nomad IV superyacht at the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race, leaving Lanzarote © Puerto Calero James Mitchell

Nomad IV superyacht at the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race, leaving Lanzarote © Puerto Calero/James Mitchell

After leading the fleet out of the Canary Islands yesterday afternoon the Finot-Conq 100 superyacht Nomad IV, sailed by Jean-Paul Riviere, was leading the race until gear failure forced the French Maxi to head back to the Canary Islands for repairs. All of the crew are safe and well. At about 2000 UTC on Monday 1st December, Nomad IV was approximately 110 miles south west of La Palma when the RORC Transatlantic tracker showed the boat had turned around and was heading back towards the Canaries.

At 2138 UTC, sailing yacht Nomad IV contacted the RORC Race Committee by satellite link to report that the boom of the 100ft Maxi had broken but that all were safe on board. The RORC Race Committee have remained in contact with Nomad IV and it is understood that the crew do not require assistance and plan to head back to the Canaries, probably Tenerife, to effect repairs.

Nomad IV yacht was the hot favourite for Line Honours for the RORC Transatlantic Race to win the prestigious IMA Trophy and hopefully the team can effect a repair that will allow them to re-continue. However, the incident occurred over 100 miles out into the Atlantic and the French team will have virtually no chance of catching the front runners, even if a solution to the problem can be found quickly.

Battle on for line honours. Southern Wind 94, Windfall at the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race - Image by Puerto Calero James Mitchell

Battle on for line honours. Southern Wind 94 yacht Windfall at the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race - Image by Puerto Calero/James Mitchell

Nomad’s misfortune means that at dawn on day three, the battle for the overall lead is between Jeremy Pilkington’s RP78 charter yacht Lupa of London and Russian Southern Wind 94 luxury yacht  Windfall, skippered by Fabrizio Oddone. Windfall was 50 miles north of Lupa of London’s position but in terms of distance to the finish, the two yachts are neck and neck. Windfall is positioned to skirt south around a high pressure system, which the Maxi will intend to slingshot around. Meanwhile Lupa of London seem to have taken a more conservative approach, keeping further away from the system and staying further south. The wind is due to veer east in the coming days and go lighter. If the wind does veer this will free off Windfall’s angle before Lupa of London.

American Class40 Oakcliff Racing, skippered by Hobie Ponting, has had a great last 24 hours, sailing past Aref Lahham’s Yacana in the early hours of this morning and at 0800 UTC was 11 miles ahead. However, Yacana, a classic Swan 68, is still estimated to be leading IRC One.

Currently 4th in IRC One, making 8.7 knots and 3 miles ahead of Sérénade, is the bright yellow Pogo 40, Bingo. One of four French teams in the race, Bingo is owned by husband and wife team from Paris, Isabelle and Yves Haudiquet and sailed with their long-time friends, Jean François Haupt and Pierre Crepin. Yves Haudiquet, from Yacht Club Paul Vatine, Le Havre, commented before the start: “I’m a lucky man with a 40ft boat able to surf day after day with the alizé (tradewinds) and with a motivated crew. My boat was built to compete in this sort of race and I’m hoping for a long surf ride and to increase the average boat speed from my last crossing.”

Nigel Passmore’s British J/133, Apollo 7 is currently leading IRC Two. The Plymouth team had an excellent night, blasting along under Code Zero to open up a 22 mile lead by dawn on Frank Lang’s French X-40, Optim’X.

RORC Transatlantic Race 2014: Day 2

December 01, 2014

The first RORC Transatlantic Race, in partnership with the International Maxi Association (IMA), kicked off on Sunday 30th November 1000 UTC from Puerto Calero, Lanzarote, Canary Islands bound for the fabulous Grenada yacht charter destination, nestled in West Indies, 2,995 nautical miles across the Atlantic Ocean.

Derek Hatfield's Volvo 60, Spirit of Adventure at the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race © Puerto Calero James Mitchell

Derek Hatfield's Volvo 60 yacht Spirit of Adventure at the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race © Puerto Calero/James Mitchell

After a competitive start the fleet have been battling through the first night to negotiate the fastest passage through the Canary Islands and into the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The entire fleet chose the northerly route through the channel between Lanzarote and Fuerteventura and once again north of Tenerife. The northerly route puts the fleet nearer the fresh breeze coming from the north rather than south where an area of little wind has developed. The rhumb line goes straight through Tenerife but the highest point, Mount Teide, has an elevation of 3,718 m (12,198ft), which would give a significant wind shadow to any yachts that ventured south.

IRC Canting Keel and Zero

Derek Hatfield’s Volvo 60, Spirit of Adventure, is estimated to be the early leader after time correction for the IRC Zero fleet. Rating far lower than the Maxi yachts in the class, Spirit of Adventure’s lead is not surprising after less than 24 hours at sea; the Canadian team are highly experienced with six of the crew having raced the boat across the Atlantic before.

Swan 68 yacht Yacana © Puerto Calero James Mitchell

Swan 68 yacht Yacana © Puerto Calero/James Mitchell

Jeremy Pilkington’s RP78 charter yacht Lupa of London have used their ‘wompa’ Code Zero to great effect, sailing high and fast across the top of Tenerife to take the overall lead on the water during the night. At dawn, Lupa of London was 40 miles from the last island, La Palma, achieving a boat speed over twice as fast as the Jean-Paul Riviere’s French Finot 100 superyacht Nomad IV. It will be interesting to see the tactics employed by Lupa of London at La Palma. Further behind, the young team on American Class40, Oakcliff Racing, have also altered course to follow Lupa of London’s track.

IRC One, Two and Three

Aref Lahham’s Swan 68, Yacana, is the clear leader in IRC One and is currently estimated to be leading the race after time correction. Most of the team hail from Greece and have sailed with each other for years and this understanding was exemplified at the start, when a spinnaker peel was pulled off with precision, to gain a big advantage. During the first night, the wind speed and direction has been in a constant state of flux and Team Yacana may well have gained the lead through good sail changing decisions and slick crew work.

Last night, Yacana sent this message from on board: “We have good wind with a few slow moments, otherwise we are doing fine. Spirits are good, thank God no rain…We are leaving the Island of Tenerife eight miles on our port and plan to be in the open ocean in about 16 hours, then heading to Grenada. Cheers to all.” – S/Y Yacana.

Nigel Passmore's J133 yacht Apollo 7 © Puerto Calero James Mitchell

Nigel Passmore's J133 yacht Apollo 7 © Puerto Calero/James Mitchell

A tremendous battle kicked off right from the start in IRC Two, Frank Lang’s French X 40, Optim’X, sailed intelligently to take the lead from Nigel Passmore’s British J/133, Apollo 7, at the start, which the French team held right along the coast of Lanzarote. Apollo 7, mainly crewed by friends from Plymouth, took a slender lead after passing the southern tip of Lanzarote and unfurled their Code Zero to open up a three mile lead on their rivals by dawn. Optim’X has a small rating advantage over Apollo 7 and this may develop into one of the closest battles in the RORC Transatlantic Race. Denis Villotte’s French JNP 12, Sérénade, is currently bringing up the rear, but estimated to be fourth overall after time correction. The twin keel design is the smallest and lightest yacht in the race and, with just three crew on board, is more suited to the downwind conditions that should feature in the race over the coming days.

Nigel Passmore reports from the course on Apollo 7: “We are round the top of Tenerife and en route to La Palma with a welcome to offshore Atlantic sailing more like the English Channel! Rain, waves and wind shifts. Still heading in the right direction with a good breeze. Crew are happy and settling in. Very much waterline length at the moment.”

Sail choice and boat handling have been the major factors to performance at this early stage in the race. Getting into the open waters of the Atlantic first pays high dividend as more wind is expected for the leaders. Just a few hours difference can turn into enough miles for leading yachts to disappear over the horizon. All of the fleet should pass La Palma into the Atlantic today, raising spinnakers which should be flying for the foreseeable future. After days of confused weather systems, the Trade Winds are forecast to re-establish over the coming days. Downwind racing, surfing down Atlantic rollers with the sun on your back – it doesn’t get a lot better than that.

RORC Transatlantic Race 2014 starts

November 30, 2014

Following two delays to the start due to adverse weather conditions, the RORC Transatlantic Race in partnership with the International Maxi Association (IMA) kicked off from Puerto Calero Marina at 1000 UTC, on Sunday, November 30, 2014.

Rainbow heralds RORC Transatlantic Race start  © RORC/James Mitchell

Rainbow heralds RORC Transatlantic Race start © RORC/James Mitchell

It was third time lucky as the RORC fleet departed Puerto Calero Marina, Lanzarote bound for Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina, Grenada West Indies, 3000 miles away across the Atlantic Ocean. Rain squalls had been disturbing the air in the early hours of the morning, but virtually nothing would have prevented the eager fleet to set off on the inaugural RORC Transatlantic Race. Sunshine and a gentle northerly breeze prevailed for the start – the only abnormal weather feature was a perfect double rainbow, pointing the way to the turning mark off Marina Lanzarote, Arrecife – the only mark of the course before the fleet would make landfall in Grenada.

Finot 100 superyacht Nomad IV bound for Grenada - inaugural RORC Transatlantic Race  - © RORC James Mitchell

Finot 100 superyacht Nomad IV bound for Grenada - inaugural RORC Transatlantic Race - © RORC/James Mitchell

American Class40, Oakcliff Racing, skippered by Hobie Ponting, got away well and took an inshore line to take the lead. However, the young team from Rhode Island were soon overhauled by a trio of Maxi yachts; Jean-Paul Riviere’s French Finot 100 superyacht Nomad IV, Russian Southern Wind 94 luxury yacht  Windfall skippered by Fabrizio Oddone and Jeremy Pilkington’s British RP78 charter yacht Lupa of London.

Next stop Grenada - RORC Transatlantic Race fleet with the dramatic Lanzarote landscape in the background - Image by RORC James Mitchell

Next stop Grenada - RORC Transatlantic Race fleet with the dramatic Lanzarote landscape in the background - Image by RORC/James Mitchell

The rainbow was not the only surreal experience at the start, a fleet of young Spanish Optimist sailors had decided to use the yellow inflatable turning mark for a training session. However, three loud blasts from the coach’s whistle recalled the young sailors to a safe position, as humming deck gear and huge sail area, announced the imminent arrival of the Maxi fleet. No doubt the young sailors will tell the tale for years to come.

Following the rainbow - Charter yacht Lupa of London, Baltic 78 and Frank Lang's X40, Optim'X at the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race - Image by RORC James Mitchell

Following the rainbow - Charter yacht Lupa of London, Baltic 78 and Frank Lang's X40, Optim'X at the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race - Image by RORC/James Mitchell

Five hours into the race, Nomad IV had rounded the southern tip of Lanzarote just ahead of Windfall and Lupa of London. Derek Hatfield’s Canadian Volvo 60, Spirit of Adventure was leading the chasing pack. Frank Lang’s French X-40, Optim’X showed impressive speed, making the turning mark in the company of Class40, Oakcliff Racing and ahead of Nigel Passmore’s British J/133, Apollo 7.

About to take off across the Atlantic - Southern Wind 94, Windfall © RORC James Mitchell

About to take off across the Atlantic - Southern Wind 94, Windfall © RORC/James Mitchell

Quotes from the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race:

Optim’X skipper, Frank Lang is taking part in his fifth Transatlantic race: “I wanted to participate in this new RORC adventure and to share the experience with sailing friends,” commented Frank. “We’re looking forward to some fun racing and competition and to the long spinnaker surf rides bought on by the trade winds. It will be interesting to compare our result on corrected time with the big boats in the fleet.”

Don José Calero, President Calero Marinas: “It has been an absolute pleasure to see the impressive racing machines for this inaugural RORC Transatlantic Race in Puerto Calero. We have enjoyed hosting the crews and helping them to discover our incredible island of Lanzarote and we are pleased that they seem to have appreciated everything that Puerto Calero Marina has to offer.”

“We would like to thank Eddie Warden Owen and the RORC team for choosing Puerto Calero for what we very much hope will become an established and popular annual event and we are already looking forward to next year for the second edition of the RORC Transatlantic Race.”

RORC CEO, Eddie Warden Owen: “Just over two years ago, the RORC decided to start a transatlantic race and it is just fantastic to see these yachts away. I am delighted to see a really competitive start. They were all pushing very hard, even though it is an endurance test for them, I am very proud to see them all going especially after the amazing weather we have had this week. The plan has come together, we have 11 boats for the first edition, but this race will grow and become a classic in the future.”

RORC Admiral & Secretary General of the IMA, Andrew McIrvine: “It is an impressive sight to watch the Maxis powering away. Once the breeze came up, the acceleration was absolutely phenomenal and they just sped away from the rest of the fleet and I am sure the Maxis will have a great battle. They have only been going for an hour, but they are already changing sails and employing boat-on-boat tactics and the lead has changed three times already. This is a perfect race for Maxis at a perfect time of year to cross the Atlantic in superb conditions to take part in the IMA Caribbean season.”

A blistering start expected for RORC Transatlantic Race 2014

November 28, 2014

The first RORC Transatlantic Race, in partnership with the International Maxi Association (IMA), will kick off from Lanzarote in Canary Islands tomorrow, on Saturday, November 29, 1200 CET. This 2,995-nautical mile race across the Atlantic Ocean will finish in the fabulous Grenada yacht holiday location, nestled in the Caribbean.

Jean-Paul Riviere and Jacques Delorme on board Finot-Conq 100, Nomad IV, study the weather before the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race - Image by RORC James Mitchell

Jean-Paul Riviere and Jacques Delorme on board Finot-Conq 100 superyacht Nomad IV, study the weather before the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race - Image by RORC/James Mitchell

A blistering start to the 2014 RORC Transatlantic Race is very much on the cards, with a low pressure system expected to arrive from the northwest on Friday, bringing gale force winds and adding to the significant sea state that has already built up during the recent stormy weather in the Canary Islands. By Saturday, as the international fleet tackle the first part of the course, the wind is expected to moderate to 30-35 knots and lighter conditions are expected by Sunday.

After a short upwind leg in front of Puerto Calero Marina, the fleet will ease sheets turning east towards Lanzarote’s capital, Arrecife. A fast downwind blast along the east coast of Fuerteventura will put the fleet at full speed, followed by a close reach to Gran Canaria, where a significant sea state is expected to test the competitors. After rounding a buoy off the coast of Gran Canaria, the fleet will harden up, racing north and eventually northwest to Tenerife. For the majority of the fleet, the leg from Tenerife to La Palma should be a fast reach before passing south of La Palma, flying spinnakers into the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

The fleet features four Maxi Yachts vying for Line Honours and the exquisite sterling silver trophy donated by the International Maxi Association.

The RORC Transatlantic Race starts with a 160 mile course through the Canary Islands © RORC YB Tracking

The RORC Transatlantic Race starts with a 160 mile course through the Canary Islands © RORC/YB Tracking

Jeremy Pilkington’s British canting keel RP78 charter yacht Lupa of London was a class winner at the Rolex Mini Maxi World Championship in September and the powerful maxi crew includes Vendée Globe sailor, Jonny Malbon and Figaro rookie, Jackson Boutell.

Southern Wind 94 superyacht Windfall is very much in the running for Line Honours; the international crew include the legendary America’s Cup and Admiral’s Cup sailor, Lorenzo Mazza, multiple world champion Francesco Mongelli and Irish Olympic Finn sailor, Tim Goodbody.

Classic Swan 68, Yacana, owned by Aref Lanham has already covered over 2,000 miles sailing to the start from Greece and will be racing with a crew of 10, mainly from their home port of Piraeus, Greece.

Finot-Conq maxi yacht Nomad IV has one of the most experienced offshore teams in the race, including Vendée Globe winner, Alain Gautier and yacht designer, Pascal Conq. Boat captain, Jacques Delorme was on board La Poste and Charles Jourdain for consecutive Whitbread Round the World Races and has won two Atlantic doublehanded races with Loick Peyron.

“For the start, the general picture is a north westerly wind. We are expecting 30 to 35 knots at a height of 10 metres with more at the top of our rig, and there could be significant gusts of wind in between the islands,” commented Jacques Delorme. “At times we will be beating into this strong wind and there will be a significant swell because of the wind direction and also because these heavy seas have built up over several days. We are expecting waves of at least four metres, maybe as much as seven metres. So I think we will be very cautious. We will be taking a reef well in advance and we will not push the boat too hard, especially avoiding pitching in the big waves. If you want to win a race, first of all you have to finish it. At the moment, after a windy start it could become lighter, but the ITCZ (Intertropical Convergence Zone) does not pose any problems and currently our routing is suggesting that we will finish the race around the 10th December.”

Cowes-based, Brett Aarons will be racing on Nigel Passmore’s British J/133, Apollo. This will be Brett’s eighth Atlantic crossing and prior to the start, he gave a resume of what the smaller yachts can expect on Saturday.

“It’s going to be a hard start to the race, full-on around the islands. The jet stream has been funnelling low pressure systems down to the Canary Islands for a while. It looks like it will go light on Sunday but it is certainly going to be a hard race for the first 24 hours. The start of the course is about 160 miles through the Canary Islands before we head out into the Atlantic.

“After the start we will be in the wind shadow of Fuerteventura and it could be quite gusty with the wind clocking west in the gusts, which we will have to be careful about, but it should be quite a fast leg. I think the toughest leg will be to Gran Canaria, as it will be a tight angle with some big waves beam on, making it very lumpy and we will be arriving at a lee shore in about 30 knots of wind at midnight. We have a roller-furling jib and we can run a storm jib off an inner staysail, which might be a nice option. There are some upwind elements after that, but even in the big breeze this is more controllable. It is easier to spill wind when beating rather than when we are just cracked off. There are not too many navigational hazards around the course, but we will be aware of some tuna pens around the coast. For the first part of the race, it will be tough going and our goal is just to settle down into life offshore and not go at it too hard, as we have another 2,800 miles to go.”

Canadian round the world sailor, Derek Hatfield, will be making his 27th Atlantic crossing as skipper of Volvo 60, Spirit of Adventure, which will be competing in the RORC Caribbean 600 after the race. American Class40, Oakcliff Racing, skippered by Dan Flanigan, has a young team of four sailors from Rhode Island, USA, who will all be crossing the Atlantic for the first time. Oakcliff Racing should have a close encounter with Class40 Sensation and their French crew of six.

With at least 27 French sailors, the RORC Transatlantic Race crew list is dominated by competitors from France. Yves & Isabelle Haudiquet ‘s French Pogo 40, Bingo, will be sailing with four crew from the Paul Vatine Yacht Club in Le Havre. This will be Yves third Atlantic crossing. Frank Lang will be making his fifth Atlantic crossing as skipper of X-40, Optim’x. In total the crew from South Brittany have crossed the Atlantic on numerous occasions. Denis Villotte from Paris will be racing JNP 12 Biquille, Sérénade across the Atlantic for the second time.

Yesterday night, Thursday 27th November, the social programme continued in Puerto Calero Marina with the RORC Transatlantic Race Gala Party at the stylish Amura Restaurant in Puerto Calero Marina.