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.
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.”
“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).
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 transatlantic.bcgdev.co. The event will be blogged live at transatlanticrace.org 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