ICAP Leopard, the 100ft super-maxi racing yacht owned by Helical Bar PLC chief executive Mike Slade, has ended her transatlantic record attempt. After a fantastic start, the ICAP Leopard racing yacht found herself in a windless high pressure at 02:00 UTC on Saturday 420 nm from the finish. With the record looking less and less achievable, Skipper and Boat Captain Chris Sherlock took the decision to abandon the attempt.
Having started on Saturday 29th May in New York, sailing yacht ICAP Leopard has had to contend with variable conditions from the start. The crew worked hard in the first few hours to position themselves correctly to pick up a weather front with enough breeze to get them up to record speed. Having achieved this, the crew were then able to keep the boat going fast through a cold and wet few days mid-Atlantic. With a record attempt of this nature the weather has to be consistently good for the entire voyage, which is hard to predict 9 or 10 days in advance. On this occasion a high pressure system on the approach to the UK blocked ICAP Leopard’s path and ended any hope of breaking the record.
ICAP Leopard Yacht Owner, Mike Slade, commented: ”We have a great yacht which has now proven itself over the last three years to be physically fast enough and powerful enough to easily churn out 500+ miles day after day and could have broken this record. However, on this occasion it materialised that the weather was not on our side and after a fantastic run at the start, the crew were forced to gybe all the way home during the latter part of the race. It just goes to prove how difficult this record is to beat and what a great boat Mari Cha IV is.”
Chris Sherlock also commented: “The crew did a phenomenal job to put us in such a great position during the first 5 days of the attempt, it is just a real shame that the forecast didn’t work out for us on this occasion. When we started we always knew that there may be a ridge of high pressure blocking our route to the finish, but we hoped that we would be able to navigate our way through without slowing too much. It is really disappointing that our record attempt was thwarted by the wind gods but no doubt we’ll be back to take on the mighty Atlantic again next year.”
Sailing yacht ICAP Leopard will now spend the summer in UK waters competing in the JP Morgan Round the Island Race on 19th June followed by a large number of corporate charters and sponsor commitments. Her next record breaking adventure will see Slade and his crew attempt to take on the Sevenstar Round Great Britain & Ireland Race starting on August 23rd this year.
Saturday 05 June: Shut down, shut off, shut out!!!!
I am afraid whichever way we look at our situation we have next to zero wind and are going nowhere, let alone fast. Despite a great days sail yesterday at around 02.00hrs this morning the mighty wind gods switched the fan off for us and left us wallowing around with 420 odd Nm to the finish at lands end.
No matter how many times we look at different weather models (forecasts) or speak to Roger Badham our weather router we cannot find a way through this ridge of high pressure. When we departed NY we always knew that there was the chance of this ridge blocking the entry to the UK and we were prepared to take the risk. There are three parts in my view to a Trans Atlantic record attempt: 1) the departure 2) the middle and 3) the finish. If you can get all three in one window, bearing in mind by the time you go green (‘let’s go’) in NY and get the crew from all over the world, you are relying on weather data looking forward 9-10 days. The further you look forward the less accurate the forecast becomes – hence the element of risk! Sometimes the cookie crumbles your way and sometimes it doesn’t! We felt we had two out of the three we needed, otherwise you wait forever.
Obviously as a team we are disappointed not to have achieved our goals but have no excuses or blame on anything or anyone – we were lucky enough to have a terrific bunch of guys on the yacht who pushed the yacht to limits it has never seen and yet again this fantastic machine has come through pretty much unscathed. We had a blast with some unbelievable sailing.
What now? As I sit looking at the computers with Hugh Agnew (navigator) we have 390 NM to Lands End and we are motor sailing in order to get there as quick as possible to get six of the guys off the yacht in Falmouth into waiting taxis to Heathrow in order to get them to their next regatta in Sardinia starting on Tuesday. We will take on some fuel before heading to Southampton and hopefully arrive around Monday night or early Tuesday morning for the remainder of the guys to fly home.
What next? Leopard will be competing in the JP Morgan Round The Island Race on June 19th followed by the Cowes – Dinard/St Malo on July 2nd , 6 weeks of corporate sailing and then our UK season closure will be the Round Great Britain and Ireland yacht race starting on August 23 (with a tracker installed) before heading off to the Med and then the Caribbean before being back in New York for the same time next year where we may just try and do it all over again?
Signing off… a huge thank you to our great Boss Mike Slade for letting the “Renegades” take his 100 foot toy for a gentle spin around the North Atlantic!! Unfortunately Mike couldn’t be with us this trip as he had business commitments during the final week of our weather window for departure from NY. Another big thank you to our long time friends and sponsor, ICAP, who have been a fantastic support and have been with us since the beginning when we launched ICAP leopard in June 2007 and last but not least a huge thanks to Louise who looks after all of the logistics, website, sales and marketing for the yacht. She works tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that the whole operation runs smoothly & so it has been a really manic month for her!
This has been a great adventure and half of the fun is knowing so many people enjoyed following our progress. (25,000 hits and counting!!)
Over and out!
Chris and the crew of ICAP Leopard