Newport Bermuda Race Start 2014 (Photo by George Bekris)

Newport Bermuda Race 2014 (Photo by George Bekris)

By John Rousmaniere,

 June 16, 2016 — As nearly 1,700 sailors who will soon race to Bermuda make their preparations, loading food and gear into their boats and lining up to pre-clear Bermuda customs and immigration, all of them have one question in mind: “What will the weather be?” And one answer:  “I just hope it’ll favor my boat.”

Sailors don’t agree on much.  Some prefer big boats, some small. Some like light displacement, others heavy. Yet this question and answer can be counted on whenever two or three of us are gathered together. We all talk about the weather, and talk and talk. The weather is our obsession.

On land, “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it,” to quote Mark Twain (or his friend Charles Dudley Warner — the sources disagree).  But on water, we can do something about it.  We trim or shorten sail, we change course, and we look around for better weather.

Newport Bermuda Race 2014 (Photo by George Bekris)

Weather is the deep concern of the 2016 Bermuda Race fleet of 184 boats. There has been some attrition, some due to boat damage during deliveries and in a race. One withdrawal is the Maxi 72 Bella Mente, a frequent candidate to be first to finish that is not sailing this time out of her owner’s weather concerns.

Over the past three days, conflicting weather forecasts have stirred up concern about the conditions that will confront the fleet after the start on Friday. One forecast seemed to indicate a high wind at the start, another suggested a hard blow down the course, and a third offered the specter of rough going, with a hard north wind.

That last weather alert has attracted a lot of attention because of the Gulf Stream. The body of water running northeast is Benjamin Franklin’s “River in the Ocean.” It’s more like a drifting octopus—a complicated patch of moving water turning in every which direction and greatly affecting the state of the sea.  To quote the race’s Gulf Stream expert (and multi-time navigator), oceanographer Dr. Frank Bohlen, “Wind blowing against the current results in a significantly larger wave amplitude and shorter wavelength than what appears when wind blows with current or when there is no current.”

Click here for Frank Bohlen’s analysis of this year’s Gulf Stream.

Newport Bermuda 2010 Start (Photo by George Bekris)

Newport Bermuda 2010 Start (Photo by George Bekris)

History marks two postponements

Despite more than 100 years of excited sailor talk about the weather in 49 races, only two Bermuda Race starts have been postponed a day or longer. The 1968 start was delayed for one day out of concern about an early-season hurricane.  Then in 1982, the race committee, chaired by James A. McCurdy (father of Selkie skipper Sheila McCurdy), postponed the start for two days because of a storm in the Western Atlantic. Once the weather settled down, the then-record 178 starters got off the line quickly on a spinnaker reach.

Carina (Photo by George Bekris )

Carina (Photo by George Bekris )

There’s another, quite startling weather story about the 1982 race.  Carina (today owned by Rives Potts) was sailing almost directly toward Bermuda when her owner-skipper, Richard Nye, poked his head up through the companionway and took a look upwind around just as a lightning bolt flashed down to the water.  “Tack,” Nye ordered. The crew looked at him incredulously. They were only 10 degrees off the layline to the finish. “Tack! There’s lightning to windward. There’s warm water up there. The Gulf Stream’s up there.”

Carina tacked, sailed on the “wrong” tack for a couple of hours until she was well into hot water, tacked back, and with a 3-knot current on her stern, charged toward Bermuda at 10-plus knots over the bottom. She won her division by a comfortable 34 minutes.

That’s one good reason why we obsess about weather.

Newport Bermuda Race 2016 Entries

Click here for more facts about the Newport Bermuda Race.

Newport Bermuda Race 2014 start (Photo by George Bekris)

Watch the start and follow your favorites to Bermuda

Coming alive for you on BermudaRace.com … join Livestream 2PM-5PM on Friday June 17 for live video and commentary on the start. Commentator Andy Green will be host the program from the Inn at Castle Hill overlooking the starting line. With cameras on the hill and on the water, he’ll get close to the action bringing live sailing directly to you. Audio also airs on Newport radio FM 105.9.

Virtual spectators will watch the story unfold as their favorite yachts, skippers, or crew members in this 635-mile ocean classic tack and gybe their way through the Gulf Stream and hunt for the wind in the ‘happy valley’ north of Bermuda. All boats in the 2016 fleet will be tracked by YB satellite trackers as live as it can be on Pantaenius Race Tracking — www.pantaenius.com/NBRtracking — your link to all the action in the race.

Spirit of Bermuda Starts off the Race for 2014 (Photo By George Bekris)

Spirit of Bermuda Starts off the Race for 2014 (Photo By George Bekris)

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 10: Francois Gabart on board his MACIF ‘Ultim’ 105ft trimaran, shown here celebrating after winning the 'Transat Bakerley' solo transatlantic yacht race. The yachtsman set a new world record for the solo transatlantic crossing in 8 days, 8 hours 54 minutes and 39 seconds. The race started in Plymouth, UK on Monday May 3rd. May 10, 2016 on the Hudson River in New York City. (Photo by Lloyd Images)

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 10: Francois Gabart on board his MACIF ‘Ultim’ 105ft trimaran, shown here celebrating after winning the ‘Transat Bakerley’ solo transatlantic yacht race. The yachtsman set a new world record for the solo transatlantic crossing in 8 days, 8 hours 54 minutes and 39 seconds. The race started in Plymouth, UK on Monday May 3rd. May 10, 2016 on the Hudson River in New York City. (Photo by Lloyd Images)

Francois Gabart, the young heart-throb of French solo offshore sailing, completed his first solo win on board his new 100ft trimaran, Macif, today when he crossed the finish line off New York.

The 33-year-old Frenchman, who in 2013 became the youngest ever winner of the Vendée Globe solo round-the-world race, sailed a brilliant race from Plymouth, covering the official distance of 3,050 nautical miles in 8 days, 8 hours, 54 minutes and 39 seconds. He narrowly missed out on a new race record, which was set by Michel Desjoyeaux in 2004, and still stands at a time of 8 days, 8 hours, 29 minutes.

Gabart actually sailed a total distance of 4,634 miles at an average speed of 23.11 knots in a remarkable voyage that, unusually for The Transat bakerly, took him and his close rival Thomas Coville on Sodebo, hundreds of miles south of the Azores into the tradewinds before sling-shotting northwest up to New York.

His beautiful blue, white and yellow Van Peteghem Lauriot-Prevost-designed multihull, in which Gabart hopes to set a new outright solo round-the-world record, reached the finish at 18:24 local time in New York, as recorded by the Sandy Hook Pilot Association boat, with its jubilant skipper waving to his team support boat as he crossed the line.

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 10: Francois Gabart on board his MACIF ‘Ultim’ 105ft trimaran, shown here celebrating after winning the 'Transat Bakerley' solo transatlantic yacht race. The yachtsman set a new world record for the solo transatlantic crossing in 8 days, 8 hours 54 minutes and 39 seconds. The race started in Plymouth, UK on Monday May 3rd. May 10, 2016 on the Hudson River in New York City. (Photo by Lloyd Images)

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 10: Francois Gabart on board his MACIF ‘Ultim’ 105ft trimaran, shown here celebrating after winning the ‘Transat Bakerley’ solo transatlantic yacht race. The yachtsman set a new world record for the solo transatlantic crossing in 8 days, 8 hours 54 minutes and 39 seconds. The race started in Plymouth, UK on Monday May 3rd. May 10, 2016 on the Hudson River in New York City. (Photo by Lloyd Images)

Shortly afterwards Gabart reflected on a race that, for much of the time, saw him in close company with Coville on the older Sodebo. For the first three days the two skippers were never more than a few miles apart, having crossed the Bay of Biscay in sight of each other.

The competition with Thomas on Sodebo was wonderful. It made the race incredible for me.  We are working together to organise more races for these type of boats, and when we see what happened in The Transat bakerly, and how close the competition was, we know there is a place for it. This is just the beginning of the journey.”

Gabart clearly loved his first outing on his new mile-munching ocean-racing thoroughbred, and he more than stepped up to the challenge that the 30-metre giant posed. “It was a big challenge for me. You should have 10 or 15 people to manage these boats, and it’s just me. It was my first solo race on Macif, and I didn’t know if I was able to do it, so I am really proud of what I did.

“To arrive into New York was perfect. The boat is in good shape. Me? Well, maybe not! I’m very tired, but I’m incredibly proud.”

As winner of the Ultime class, Gabart will be presented with a special watch from The Transat bakerly official timekeeper Ralf Tech.

Commenting on Gabart’s performance, The Transat bakerly Event Director Herve Favre said: “Francois and Thomas put on an amazing show at the front of the fleet and Francois has emerged a worthy and deserving winner. Over the next week we will see the winners of the IMOCA 60, Multi50 and Class40s emerge and each winner will be a hero in my book.”

The Big Apple has only been used once before in the race as the finish port and that was in the very first edition in 1960 when the winner, one Sir Francis Chichester on the monohull Gipsy Moth III, was at sea for 40 days, 12 hours 30 minutes. Sailing a multihull from a different century, Gabart was 32 days, 3 hours and 36 minutes quicker than the British legend.

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 10: Francois Gabart on board his MACIF ‘Ultim’ 105ft trimaran, shown here celebrating after winning the 'Transat Bakerley' solo transatlantic yacht race. The yachtsman set a new world record for the solo transatlantic crossing in 8 days, 8 hours 54 minutes and 39 seconds. The race started in Plymouth, UK on Monday May 3rd. May 10, 2016 on the Hudson River in New York City. (Photo by Lloyd Images)

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 10: Francois Gabart on board his MACIF ‘Ultim’ 105ft trimaran, shown here celebrating after winning the ‘Transat Bakerley’ solo transatlantic yacht race. The yachtsman set a new world record for the solo transatlantic crossing in 8 days, 8 hours 54 minutes and 39 seconds. The race started in Plymouth, UK on Monday May 3rd. May 10, 2016 on the Hudson River in New York City. (Photo by Lloyd Images)

As Gabart crossed the line Coville was still some 118nm from the finish while the third-placed trimaran in the Ultime class – Actual skippered by Yves Le Blevec – was still 509.6nm away.

For the other classes in the fleet, the finish line is still over 800 miles away. Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) continues to lead the IMOCA 60 fleet with an anticipated arrival time of 19:00 local time on Friday. Vincent Riou on PRB is 76 miles behind and still hot on his stern.

In the four-boat Multi50 class, Gilles Lamiré (Frenchtech Rennes St Malo) is continuing to extend his lead, with a 219 mile advantage between him and the chasing Lalou Roucayrol (Arkema).

Trading places at the top of the Class40 fleet is Isabelle Joschke (Generali–Horizon Mixité) and Thibaut Vauchel-Camus (Solidaires en Peloton–Arsep), with Joschke currently holding a six-mile advantage.

On Tuesday Armel Tripon on Black Pepper announced his retirement from The Transat bakerly, after he sustained damage in the week’s earlier storms, leaving eight Class40s now en route to the Big Apple.

Track the race here.

The class rankings at 20:00 BST – updated every four hours. 

ULTIME
1. Francois Gabart/Macif – Finished after 8 days, 8 hours, 54 minutes and 39 seconds
2. Thomas Coville/Sodebo – 88.21nm from the finish
3. Yves Le Blevec/Actual – 504.50nm from the finish

IMOCA 60
1. Armel Le Cléac’h/Banque Populaire – 857.2nm from the finish
2. Vincent Riou/PRB – 76.10nm from the leader
3. Jean-Pierre Dick/St Michel Virbac – 182.74nm from the leader

MULTI50
1. Gilles Lamiré/French Tech Rennes St Malo – 950nm from the finish
2. Lalou Roucayrol/Arkema – 219.62nm from the leader
3. Pierre Antoine/Olmix – 415.94nm from the leader

CLASS40
1. Isabelle Joschke/Generali Horizon Mixité – 1421.3nm from the finish
2. Thibaut Vauchel-Camus/Solidaires en Peloton – ARSEP – 6.60nm from the leader
3. Phil Sharp/Imerys – 18.59nm from the leader

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 10: Francois Gabart on board his MACIF ‘Ultim’ 105ft trimaran, shown here celebrating after winning the 'Transat Bakerley' solo transatlantic yacht race. The yachtsman set a new world record for the solo transatlantic crossing in 8 days, 8 hours 54 minutes and 39 seconds. The race started in Plymouth, UK on Monday May 3rd. May 10, 2016 on the Hudson River in New York City. (Photo by Lloyd Images)

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 10: Francois Gabart on board his MACIF ‘Ultim’ 105ft trimaran, shown here celebrating after winning the ‘Transat Bakerley’ solo transatlantic yacht race. The yachtsman set a new world record for the solo transatlantic crossing in 8 days, 8 hours 54 minutes and 39 seconds. The race started in Plymouth, UK on Monday May 3rd. May 10, 2016 on the Hudson River in New York City. (Photo by Lloyd Images)

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK - New York. USA. Image licensed to Lloyd Images

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK – New York. USA.  Image licensed to Lloyd Images

The 25 boats in The Transat Bakerly 2016 fleet set sail today on one of the great races in solo sailing, the 3,050-nautical mile passage across the north Atlantic from Plymouth to New York.

Spectators both on shore and on the water turned out to watch as the mainly French fleet gathered under grey skies on Plymouth Sound to answer the starter’s gun fired from the decks of the Royal Navy frigate HMS Kent at 14.30pm.

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK - New York. USA. Image licensed to Lloyd Images

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK – New York. USA.  Image licensed to Lloyd Images

Ahead of the solo skippers and their boats lies one of the most daunting challenges in professional sport – the north Atlantic, complete with bitterly cold storm force headwinds, an ever-present adverse swell, freezing fog and even the danger of ice.

The forecast for this year’s race – the first time this classic has been staged since 2008 – is for a reasonably quiet start but for 45-knot headwinds and big seas for the leading yachts by Wednesday, as they head into the Western Approaches.

The fleet is divided into four classes, each of which will produce an official winner of The Transat bakerly. The fastest boats are the giant trimarans of the Ultime class, three of which are battling it out for line honours, with the first expected to reach the finish at New York in around eight days.

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK - New York. USA. Image licensed to Lloyd Images

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK – New York. USA.
Image licensed to Lloyd Images

Behind them comes the five-strong fleet of smaller Multi50 trimarans which could fly across the “pond” in 12 days, alongside the six IMOCA 60s – the state-of-the-art monohulls used in the Vendée Globe solo round-the-world race that starts later this year.

The slowest boats will be the smaller monohulls of the 10-strong Class40 fleet which should take around 15 days to complete the course, but in which we should see some of the tightest racing.

Alongside the fleet is a one-off entry by the French racing legend Loick Peyron who is sailing Eric Tabarly’s 44ft wooden ketch Pen Duick II in the same trim as she was when Tabarly raced her to victory in The Transat (then called the OSTAR) in 1964. Peyron is expecting to take around 27 days to reach the finish at New York.

Loick Peyron sets off on his voyage to New York aboard Pen Duick II. (Photo © Vincent Curutchet/Lloyd Images/OC Sport)

Loick Peyron sets off on his voyage to New York aboard Pen Duick II. (Photo © Vincent Curutchet/Lloyd Images/OC Sport)

Among the first to show in 10-12 knot southwesterly breeze, as the fleet headed out to sea, was the Multi50 Fenêtrea-Cardinal skippered by Frenchman Erwan Le Roux who ripped across the startline flying-a-hull ahead of two Ultimes, the bright green Sodebo skippered by former Volvo Ocean Race winner Thomas Coville and the blue-hulled MACIF, skippered by François Gabart.

Several skippers were caught out by the lighter-than-forecast conditions at the start and were hastily shaking out reefs as those with full mainsails took advantage. Among the quickest away was Armel Le Cléac’h on the IMOCA 60 Banque Populaire VIII who flew out of the blocks and established an early lead.

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK - New York. USA. Image licensed to Lloyd Images

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK – New York. USA. Image licensed to Lloyd Images

The IMOCA 60 class will see a fascinating battle over the next two weeks between the three entries with foils – Banque Populaire VIII, Edmond de Rothschild (Sébastien Josse) and St Michel-Virbac (Jean-Pierre Dick), and those with more conventional underwater profiles – PRB (Vincent Riou), SMA (Paul Meilhat) and 44 (Richard Tolkien). The foilers may well be quicker but will they be tough enough to last this toughest of courses?

Earlier there were pre-start nerves on a damp and overcast Monday morning as the skippers enjoyed a final big English breakfast and prepared to depart from Plymouth’s Sutton Harbour Marina and Plymouth Yacht Haven. Sébastien Josse was in a realistic mood about what lies ahead.

“I am in the mindset of someone who is about to experience very demanding times physically and mentally,” he said. “The Transat bakerly is not much fun but I am very happy to be here. I know I am going to be cold and it’s going to be tough, but I know why I am doing it. I want to do well and I am just thinking through all the things I must not forget and the mistakes to avoid.”

His fellow Frenchman Armel Tripon on the Class40 entry Black Pepper also talked of the jitters as he prepared to take on the north Atlantic. “Although I slept well I feel I have a little ball of nerves in my stomach but it will disappear once I am on the water,” he said.

Like all the skippers, Tripon was eyeing the forecast and trying to assess his routing choices, whether to head north or south once clear of the southern Irish coast. “It is not obvious – there is a strategic choice to make at the outset,” said Tripon.

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK - New York. USA. Image licensed to Lloyd Images

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK – New York. USA.
Image licensed to Lloyd Images

Hervé Favre, Event Director commented: “This race is one of the classics in solo sailing and after it was not staged four years ago we at OC Sport are proud to relaunch it this year. I am delighted to see this hugely competitive fleet of sailors on state-of the art racing machinery now taking on The Transat bakerly 2016 and we wish them all the best for the undoubted challenges that lie ahead.”

So fasten your seatbelts, this promises to be a wild ride across one of the most notorious stretches of water on the planet – the 2016 Transat bakerly is underway.

Track the race here

Find out more about the race here.

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK - New York. USA. Image licensed to Lloyd Images

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK – New York. USA.
Image licensed to Lloyd Images

 

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK - New York. USA. Image licensed to Lloyd Images

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK – New York. USA.  Image licensed to Lloyd Images

 

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK - New York. USA. Image licensed to Lloyd Images

The Transat Bakerly yacht race. The start of solo transatlantic race start from Plymouth UK – New York. USA.  Image licensed to Lloyd Images

SAILING - THE ARTEMIS TRANSAT - START - PLYMOUTH (GBR) - 11/05/08 PHOTO : VINCENT CURUTCHET / DPPI / THE ARTEMIS TRANSAT / OC EVENTS START

SAILING – THE ARTEMIS TRANSAT – START – PLYMOUTH (GBR) – 11/05/08
PHOTO : VINCENT CURUTCHET / DPPI / THE ARTEMIS TRANSAT / OC EVENTS
START

In just under 100 days time, a growing fleet of first-class ocean racers and fearless adventurers will set sail on the world’s oldest solo transatlantic race from Plymouth to New York – The Transat.

This year’s race has attracted a star-studded line up of offshore greats, from the likes of Vendée Globe competitors Sébastien Josse and Armel Le Cléac’h in the IMOCA60, to Transat Jacques Vabre winner Erwan Le Roux and Route du Rhum winner Thomas Coville on the flying multihulls and seasoned offshore competitors Miranda Merron and Thibaut Vauchel in the Class40.

The Transat is a nostalgic race steeped in history, full of adventure and touched upon by tragedy. Established in 1960 by Sir Francis Chichester and Blondie Hasler, Hasler’s legendary vision for the race is still as relevant today as it was then – The Transat is about “one man, one boat, one ocean.”

But while the principle behind the race remains the same, a new generation of ocean racing machines sees a classic reborn in 2016. Giant Ultimes, flying Multi50s, powerful IMOCA60s and hardy Class40s, helmed by some of the world’s finest solo sailors, could make for one of the fastest crossings yet.

“We are absolutely delighted by the turn out and the calibre of the skippers who are taking on the challenge of one of the greatest solo races in the sport,” said Hervé Favre, Offshore Events Director for OC Sport. “With the right conditions we could see records tumbling in all four classes.”

Paying homage to The Transat’s origins, the 14th edition will set sail from Plymouth – the first city to play host to the race. From Plymouth breakwater, the fleet will race 3,000 miles to Brooklyn in New York, where The Transat first finished 56 years ago.

Between the two cities, competitors will be alone faced with the towering waves of the Atlantic, blinding fog, ferocious winds and the danger of ice drifting down from the Arctic. The fleet will spend anywhere between eight and 18 days at sea, dependent on the boat. Racing upwind for the majority of the race, The Transat will be a hard slog for the skippers. Frequent rest, good nutrition and staying hydrated will be key to staving off fatigue and staying in the game.

The Atlantic is a dangerous playground and intelligent sailing will be the key to success in New York City, as Race Director Gilles Chiorri explained: “The Transat is the mother of all transatlantic races, it launched the trend for solo sailing. The Transat is the most challenging transatlantic to win. The race will be characterised by the low pressures and stormy conditions associated with heavy swell, sometimes within the vicinity of icebergs. The winner in each class (Ultime, IMOCA60, Multi 50, Class40) will step on the path of the previous winners, including Chichester, Tabarly, Colas, Poupon, Desjoyeaux, Joyon, and Loick Peyron, among others.”

With less than 100 days to the start of this epic, The Transat boasts an international fleet of almost 30 boats including three Ultimes, five Multi 50s, seven IMOCA 60s, 11 Class40s, two female skippers, two Brits, 21 French entries, one German and The Transat’s first Japanese entry.

You can read more into the colourful history of The Transat here and see the announced competitor line up below.

Entries for the 2016 Transat are open until 31st January. To enter, please click here.

Follow The Transat on Facebook, Twitter and find more on our website

 

The Transat 2016 will finish in New York (Photo© FreeImages.com/Dario Lucarini)

The Transat 2016 will finish in New York (Photo© FreeImages.com/Dario Lucarini)

 

Paradox and Phaedo3 battle for  the start.  Paradox wins the battle leaving Phaedo3 to do a 360 and fight to catch up leaving Castle Hill light and Newport behind (Photo by George Bekris)

Paradox and Phaedo3 battle for the start. Paradox wins the battle leaving Phaedo3 to do a 360 and fight to catch up leaving Castle Hill light and Newport behind (Photo by George Bekris)

With 2,800 miles to sail and just two boats on the starting line, a conservative start would seem like the smart play. But for the 63-foot trimaran Paradox, owned by Peter Aschenbrenner and skippered by Jeff Mearing, the start of the multihull class in the Transatlantic Race 2015 offered up a wondrous opportunity to throw a little mud in the eye of Lloyd Thornburg’s Phaedo3, the 70-foot MOD 70 trimaran that is the odds-on favorite to take overall line honors in the race. It was too good to pass up, no matter what the overall risk-reward analysis might say.

Phaedo3 doing 360 for another go at the start line (Photo © George Bekris)

Phaedo3 doing 360 for another go at the start line (Photo © George Bekris)

The starboard end of the starting line was heavily favored due to the straight shot it provided out the channel, so both boats set up off the Jamestown shore for a long timed run on starboard tack. Paradox led into the starting area off the Castle Hill Lighthouse and, with both boats a few seconds late, seemed to be content to cross the line with a slight lead. At the last second, however, Aschenbrenner hardened up and cut off the path of the hard-charging Phaedo3, forcing the larger boat to spin head to wind on the wrong side of the starting line and turn an achingly slow 360, before setting off in pursuit of its rival.
Phaedo3 Dials it up to catch Paradox who leads out of the start. (Photo © George Bekris)

Phaedo3 Dials it up to catch Paradox who leads out of the start. (Photo © George Bekris)

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Paradox leads out past Castile Hill leaving Newport to cross the Atlantic. (Photo © George Bekris)

For a race of this extreme distance, such an advantage at the outset means little. To wit, by 3:30 p.m., 90 minutes into the race, Phaedo3 had rolled over the top of Paradox and was scorching south of Martha’s Vineyard on an east-southeast heading at 30 knots.Paradox wasn’t exactly plodding along, hitting over 22 knots according to the tracker, but was quickly losing touch with the competition. Hopefully the early win helped ease the pain of watching Phaedo3 disappear over the horizon.
Comanche bowman signaling to the cockpit prior to the start. (Photo © George Bekris)

Comanche bowman signaling to the skipper prior to the start. (Photo © George Bekris)

Anticipation for today’s second start—the final act of the fortnight of U.S.-based activity for the Transatlantic Race—has been building since last summer when the news broke that two new super maxis – the 100-foot Comanche and Rambler 88 – would be competing in the race. While both skippers have downplayed the duel—the boats have different design briefs and there is a 12-foot difference in overall length, in a sport where longer is often faster—the sailing public hasn’t let go of the “which one is faster” debate. It doesn’t hurt that the two skippers—Ken Read, who is skippering Comanche for owners Jim Clark and Kristy Hinze-Clark, and George David, the owner/skipper of Rambler  88—were once crewmates on David’s IMS 50 Idler, which competed as a part of the American team in the 1999 Admiral’s Cup.

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Rambler 88 approaches the start at Castle Hill (Photo © George Bekris)

Whether despite this or because of it, the final start of the Transatlantic Race 2015 was more true to expectations for such an event. Both boats maneuvered significantly through the pre-start, probing for an advantage. But with neither boat providing an opening, the afterguards of each boat were content to blast across the line in sync, Comanche to leeward and slightly ahead. As with the trimarans, the speeds jumped significantly once the boats passed the R4 channel marker south of Brenton Reef and were able bear off and ease the sheets. At press time, Comanche had pulled out to approximately a 1.3-mile lead over Rambler 88, with both boats recording speeds in the low 20s.

Comanche and Rambler 88 passing one another dialing up the start (Photo © George Bekris)

Comanche and Rambler 88 passing one another dialing up the start (Photo © George Bekris)

No matter where they stand relative to their respective competitors, sailors on all four boats have to be extremely pleased with the weather, which provided them with ideal reaching conditions for the escape from Newport. Whether it lasts, however, is a significant question. In the immediate future it appears to be some lighter winds. Any advantage or disadvantage at the start will be quickly forgotten if any of the boats struggle to push through to the next band of breeze.

And they're off!! Comanche and Rambler 88 leave Newport. Next stop the UK. (Photo © George Bekris)

And they’re off!! Comanche and Rambler 88 leave Newport. Next stop the UK. (Photo © George Bekris)

 For more photos of the 3rd start action by George Bekris see the gallery at www.georgebekris.com

 

TR 2015 Roster of Entries Starting on July 5 (4 boats)
Comanche, Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, New York, N.Y., USA
Phaedo3, Lloyd Thornburg, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
Paradox, Peter Aschenbrenner, San Francisco, Calif., USA
Rambler, George David, Hartford, Conn., USA
Rambler 88 passes Castle Hill Inn heading into the Atlantic from Newport, Rhode Island  (Photo © George Bekris)

Rambler 88 passes Castle Hill Inn heading into the Atlantic from Newport, Rhode Island (Photo © George Bekris)

 Here are the many ways to Follow the Race
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/TransatlanticRace     
Yellowbrick Tracking: http://yb.tl/transatlantic2015 (will be activated 24 hours before the first start, June 28 at 1400 EDT).
Yellowbrick Tracking on tablet or smart phone – You must first download the YB Races app, then within the app, add the TR2015 race. There is no charge to follow this race.  Apple iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/yb-races/id452193682?mt=8
Google Play/Android https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.yellowbrick.raceviewer&hl=en
Twitter Handle: @TransatlantRace
Instagram: @nyyc_regattas
Comanche and Rambler 88 battle for position as the Transatlantic Race 2015 3rd start get underway (Photo © George Bekris)

Comanche and Rambler 88 battle for position as the Transatlantic Race 2015 3rd start get underway (Photo © George Bekris)

 

 

Gryphon Solo 2  by George Bekris Atlantic Cup

Gryphon Solo 2 by George Bekris Atlantic Cup

 

Time to Beat: 137 Days 20 Hours Set by Chinese Sailor Guo Chuan in 2013

 Newport, Rhode Island – Long time U.S. short-handed sailor, Joe Harris, announced his plans today to attempt to break the non-stop solo Around the World Record for 40-foot monohulls. Harris will make the attempt in his Class 40, GryphonSolo2. The attempt will be made in accordance with the rules of the World Sailing Speed Record Council, who will time the start and finish in Newport, RI. Additionally, a “WSSRC Black Box” will be installed on the boat, the data from which will be used to ratify any claim by GryphonSolo2, that the existing record of 137 days, 20 hours, 01 minute, 57 seconds, set by Chinese sailor Guo Chuan in 2013, has been broken.

Joe intends to leave Newport on a favorable weather window at the beginning of November. To qualify for an Around the World record, Joe will sail from Castle Hill Light in Newport, returning to Newport, leaving Antarctica to starboard. The attempt is an approximate distance of 26,700 nautical miles. To beat the current record, Joe will need to average 195 miles per day, or roughly 8.2 knots/hour.

Joe Harris stated, “I have been hoping, planning and dreaming of racing around the world since I was about 20 and now I am 55. I have come dangerously close to doing this twice; first with my Open 50 GryphonSolo in 2008 in the Velux 5 Oceans Race, before it was postponed. I then bought my Class 40 GryphonSolo2 in 2011 with the express purpose of racing solo around the world, but alas, there is no longer a race, as the Global Ocean Race will not run again. So, being ‘all dressed up with nowhere to go’, I have decided to ‘just do it’ and in turn attempt to break the speed record for a 40-foot monohull.

 There is no other sporting event in the world that runs for 137 days, 24 hours day, in which you are the only athlete on the playing field racing against the clock. So this will no doubt be the greatest challenge I have ever faced and I would be lying if I said that the prospect of being alone on the great oceans of the world for four months is not an intimidating thought. It is. But in the end, this will provide me the greatest test that I can imagine. So I look forward to engaging with anyone who would like to follow the record attempt, from the preparation, to the start, to the communication from sea, to my return to Newport in, hopefully, anything less than 137 days.” 

 

Throughout the next five months, Joe will be actively training for his around the world record attempt. In addition to multi-day training sails, Joe will also participate in Block Island Race Week (double-handed Navigators Division), Marblehead-Halifax (double-handed) and the Ida Lewis Distance Race.

 

In preparation of the attempt, GryphonSolo2 has undergone a major refit at Maine Yacht Center including:

  • ·       New auto pilots installed.
  • ·       New solar panels and hydrogenerator installed for offshore energy production
  • ·       Keel and rudders removed, inspected and reinstalled.
  • ·       New set of sails built specifically for the record attempt.
  • ·       Mast completely stripped and re-painted.
  • ·       New Iridium satellite communication system.
  • ·       New computer and navigation system.

 

 

Gryphon Solo 2 by George Bekris 2014

Gryphon Solo 2 by George Bekris 2014

About Joe Harris

Joe grew up sailing on Long Island Sound, being mentored by his father, Woody Harris and his grandfather Hans Rozendaal, both experienced offshore racing sailors.  With 4 trans-Atlantic crossings, 9 Newport-Bermuda races, 5 Marblehead to Halifax races, 5 Bermuda 1-2 races, 3 Atlantic Cups and numerous international miles sailed, Joe has logged over 60,000 offshore ocean miles, while owning 5 boats over a span of 30 years.

After graduating from Brown University in 1981, Joe spent the next seven years as a boat builder in New England during the winters and commercial fisherman in the summers in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Joe sailed offshore frequently in his twenties, racing to Bermuda and delivering boats to and from Europe and the Caribbean, before buying a C&C 40 he named Shiva.  Joe migrated to double-handed sailing aboard Shiva, and ultimately sold Shiva to purchase the Aerodyne 38 Gryphon, which he campaigned aggressively.

In 2004 Joe purchased an all-carbon Finot-Conq designed Open 50 that he named GryphonSolo, which he campaigned in the solo Transat and the Transat Jacques Vabre. In 2011, Joe purchased an Akilaria RC 2 Class 40 named GryphonSolo2 with the intent of racing solo around the world.

Joe is married to his wife Kimberly and they have three children (Griffin- 17, Emmett- 11 and Sophie Grace-8) and live in South Hamilton, MA.  He is involved in real estate investment, development and project management when not sailing.

Career Highlights:
1st – 2014 Atlantic Cup
4th – 2013 Atlantic Cup
3rd – 2012 Atlantic Cup
1st – 2007 Bermuda 1-2 – Overall and set the course record
1st – 2006 Newport-Bermuda – Open Division
1st – 2005 Transat Jaques Vabre (France-Brazil) – Double-handed
2nd – 2004 Transat (Plymouth, UK- Boston, MA) – Single-handed

About GryphonSolo2
GryphonSolo2 is an Akilaria RC2 Class 40. The Akilaria RC2 is the second generation of Class 40s designed by Marc Lombard and built by MC-Tec. She was launched in 2011 in LaTrinite, France.

A fleet of 13 boats took off for England today from Newport, R.I.’s start of the Transatlantic Race 2015. (photo credit Daniel Forster)

A fleet of 13 boats took off for England today from Newport, R.I.’s start of the Transatlantic Race 2015. (photo credit Daniel Forster)

 

NEWPORT, R.I. (June 28, 2015) – An intense low-pressure system rolling up the Atlantic Coast put competitors and race officials on edge for the 48 hours leading up to the first start of the Transatlantic Race 2015, from Newport, R.I., to The Lizard off the southwest coast of England. Contingency plans were made by both groups, with the option of delaying the start for a few hours getting serious consideration. The storm passed through overnight, however, leaving behind excellent, albeit unseasonably cool, conditions and a favorable boost from the outgoing current and the run-off from Saturday night’s heavy rain.
A baker’s dozen of boats got underway in Start 1, crossing the starting line set off the Castle Hill Lighthouse at the entrance to Narragansett Bay’s East Passage just after 2 p.m. Twenty-one boats will get underway on the afternoon of Wednesday, July 1, and the four fastest yachts in the race will make up the final start on Sunday, July 5.
A fleet of 13 boats took off for England today from Newport, R.I.’s start of the Transatlantic Race 2015. (photo credit Daniel Forster)

The boats in Start 1 were fairly conservative on their approach to the line. This race, at 2,800-miles in length, is the ultimate ocean marathon; slow and steady is almost always the best mindset for the onset of such an adventure, which could take two weeks, or longer, to complete.
“We will be happy if we finish the race in under 17 days,” said Sheila McCurdy, the navigator for Chris Otorowski’s Aphrodite, just prior to leaving the dock. “It’s looking like for the first half of the race, the weather is pretty advantageous – a mostly southwesterly blow. You’d have to peer out over two weeks to know how to approach England, but we don’t know that  yet, because we don’t get weather forecasts that far in advance.”
Ross Applebey’s Scarlet Oyster was first across the starting line, hoisting a bright red spinnaker in time with the starting cannon and stretching away from the fleet. Next was Matt Brooks’ Dorade, the 85-year-old classic showing no hesitation. Brooks and his crew were quick to throw up a full complement of downwind sails and get the Olin Stephens’ design up to hull speed.
Approximately 90 minutes after the start, it was the 100-year-old, 140-foot schooner Mariette of 1915 that had charged to the front of the fleet—no surprise given it’s more than double the size of any other boat in the first start.  Along with it were Mark Stevens’ Kiva; New York Yacht Club Commodore Rives Potts’ Carina (with Rich duMoulin skippering, since Potts had to stand down from the crew at the last minute), and Ross Applebey’s Scarlet Oyster.
While most of the fleet seemed to enjoy the fresh conditions and following breeze, it wasn’t all wine and roses. Carter Bacon’s Solutionsuffered a tear at the head of its spinnaker less than an hour into the race, the crew scrambling to pull the sail onboard after it fluttered away from the top of the rig. Other boats struggled to find their downwind rhythm in the large, off-axis ocean swells.
But no matter how the first few moments went, all the crews shared in the excitement of beginning such an epic adventure. The days leading up to such a long race are an overwhelming cocktail of planning, packing, boat preparation, speculation, training and social functions. Finally getting underway, and into the routine of an ocean race—a few hours on watch, a few hours off—is almost always a relief.
The fleet will sail in a southeasterly direction through the evening to clear beneath the Right Whale Critical Habitat area east of Nantucket. Then it will head due east for approximately 900 miles—to avoid an unusually large and widespread collection of icebergs on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland—before turning north to take the Great Circle Route, which cuts precious distance off any northern transatlantic trip.
TR 2015 Roster of Entries Starting on June 28
Aphrodite, Christopher Otorowski, Seattle, Wash./Newport, R.I., USA
Arrowhead,
Steve Berlack, Franconia, N.H., USA
Carina
, Rives Potts, Essex, Conn., USA
Charisma,
Constantin Claviez, Hamburg, GER
Dizzy,
Paul Anstey/Craig Rastello, Melbourne, Fla., USA
Dorade,
Matt Brooks, San Francisco, Calif., USA
Jaqueline IV
, Robert Forman, Bay Shore, N.Y., USA
Kiva,
Mark Stevens, New Castle, N.H., USA
Mariette of 1915,
Charlie Wroe, Falmouth, GBR
Scarlet Oyster,
Ross Applebey, GBR
Shearwater,
Dan & Gretchen Biemesderfer, Guilford, Conn., USA
Solution,
Carter Bacon, Hyannis Port, Mass.
Zephyr,
Micky St. Aldwyn, Lymington, UK
Follow the Race
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/TransatlanticRace   
Yellowbrick Tracking: http://yb.tl/transatlantic2015 (will be activated 24 hours before the first start, June 28 at 1400 EDT).
Yellowbrick Tracking on tablet or smart phone – You must first download the YB Races app, then within the app, add the TR2015 race. There is no charge to follow this race.  Apple iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/yb-races/id452193682?mt=8, Google Play/Android https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.yellowbrick.raceviewer&hl=en
Twitter Handle: @TransatlantRace
Instagram: @nyyc_regattas
161st New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta Around the Island Race (Photo by George Bekris)

161st New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta Around the Island Race (Photo by George Bekris)

If on Friday it looked unusually busy just off Newport Harbor, it was because 135 of the 167 boats signed up for the New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta presented by Rolex had gathered in Narragansett Bay’s East Passage, just south of Pell Bridge, to begin the 161-year-old regatta’s traditional sprint around Conanicut Island. With the wind struggling to fill from the southwest, race officials prudently postponed the noon start for an hour before successfully sending off 14 classes in a northerly direction, under the bridge for a counter-clockwise circumnavigation. It was shortened to finish off Beavertail Light in Jamestown, and the overall IRC awards at stake – the much coveted Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date timepiece given for best corrected time and a first-time Sentient Jet Trophy for best elapsed time – were won, respectively, by Austin and Gwen Fragomen’s (Bayhead, N.J.) Botin 44 Interlodge and Michael Dominguez’s (Newport, R.I.) Marstrom 32 catamaran Bronco.

Marstrom 32  Bronco (Photo by George Bekris)

Marstrom 32 Bronco (Photo by George Bekris)

“The first part of the day had a little bit more breeze,” said Dominguez. “We rounded the top of the island and may have been in third at that point, still close to two of the other Marstroms. Then down the backside, in a tacking battle with them, we made the decision to go through Dutch Harbor where we saw more pressure and current. It turned out to be a huge gain, and we came out pretty far ahead of the two other boats. Then everything kind of compressed as we got further down the backside of Jamestown, and it turned into a real tacking battle at the end.”

Marstrom 32 Bronco (Photo by George Bekris)

Marstrom 32 Bronco (Photo by George Bekris)

Tomorrow, the Marstroms will use America’s Cup style race courses, so they will have reaching starts, and the races will be relatively short. “We’ll be really concentrating on the maneuvers, which make a huge difference in this boat,” said Dominguez. “The speed and the quality of maneuvers either gain you boat lengths or cost you boat lengths.”

Interlodge is new for the Fragomens, who have sailed a TP52 of the same name successfully for many years; it was splashed only a week ago and christened last night at Newport Shipyard where many of the Annual Regattas are docked.   “We thought we’d try something different, so we decided to develop an optimum boat for east coast regattas,” said Austin Fragomen. “It’s sportier and more agile than the 52 yet very powerful and fast downwind.”

Fragomen said he also wanted the right size of boat to race with others in the 40-foot range, as he thinks this is the growing group of boats on the east coast. He believes the two Carkeek 40s in his IRC 1 class here – Spookie and Decision, which finished second and third today behind Interlodge– will be his toughest competition throughout the weekend.

The “NYYC Red” team comprised of Paul Jeka’s Custom 41 After Midnight and Steve/Heidi Benjamin’s Carkeek 40 Spookie won the Rolex Trophy for best two-boat IRC team.

Rambler 88 by George Bekris

Rambler 88 by George Bekris

The event’s largest entrant, Rambler 88, was notably missing from the afternoon’s starting sequences, but it had sailed by a time or two, flexing its massive muscles even in the light breezes. With a mast reaching 136 feet tall, the 88 footer cannot fit under the middle span of the Jamestown Bridge, which greets sailors midway through the Around-the-Island Race on the west side of Conanicut Island (Narragansett Bay’s West Passage); therefore, the Rambler 88 team’s day was spent practicing for the weekend’s racing, which features ‘round-the-buoys racing and some stadium-style courses for IRC and one-design classes as well as ‘round-government marks racing on “navigators’ courses” for PHRF classes.

My Sharona (Photo by George Bekris)

My Sharona (Photo by George Bekris)

“We are doing the Annual Regatta with Rambler 88 because it’s a new boat and particularly because this week we put new appendages on the boat, some side foils, which we are very keen to try,” said Rambler 88’s designer, naval architect Juan Kouyoumdjian, further explaining that the Rambler 88 team also is prepping for the Transatlantic Race 2015 starting off Newport later this summer. “So far, so good…I don’t think the wind will be enough to use the appendages this weekend, but every hour we can put on the boat is a good hour.”

Kouyoumdjian indicated he speaks for the entire team when he says the 161st New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta presented by Rolex is very important. “It’s tradition, and the New York Yacht Club has been at the forefront of sailing for a very long time; everyone feels a sense of pride about participating.”

More Photos of the NYYC Round the Island Race by George Bekris HERE

Wild Child (Photo by George Bekris)

Wild Child (Photo by George Bekris)

 

RESULTS

161st NYYC Annual Regatta presented by Rolex (Around-the-Island Race)
June 12, 2015
Place, Yacht Name, Type, Owner/Skipper, Hometown, Results, Total Points

CRF Classics NS (CRF – 9 Boats)
1. Silent Maid, Catboat 33, Peter Kellogg, Summit, NJ, USA, 1 (1)
2. Spartan, NY50, Charlie Ryan, Providence, RI, USA, 2 (2)
3. Angelita, 8 Metre, Skelsey / Croll, Greenwich, CT, USA, 3 (3)
CRF SoT NS (CRF – 2 Boats)
1. QUEST (SoT), 8 Metre, Diane Palm, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1 (1)
2. Wild Horses (SoT), W-Class W.76, Donald Tofias, Newport, RI, USA, 2 (2)
IRC 1 (IRC – 9 Boats)
1. Interlodge, Botin HPR 44, Austin and Gwen Fragomen, Newport, RI, USA, 1 (1)
2. SPOOKIE, Carkeek HP 40, Steve & Heidi Benjamin, Norwalk, CT, USA, 2 (2)
3. HOOLIGAN, IRC 52, Gunther Buerman, Highland Beach, FL, USA, 3 (3)
IRC 2 (IRC – 10 Boats)
1. DownTime, Summit 40, Ed Freitag / Molly Haley, Annapolis, MD, USA, 1 (1)
2. After Midnight, CTM 41, Paul Jeka , Atlantic Highlands, NJ, USA, 2 (2)
3. The Cat Came Back, Swan 42, Lincoln Mossop, Providence, RI, USA, 3 (3)
IRC 3 (IRC – 11 Boats)
1. Wings, J 122, Mike Bruno, Armonk, NY, USA, 1 (1)
2. Talisman, Farr 395, John Bailey, Darien, CT, USA, 2 (2)
3. Avalanche, Farr 395, Craig Albrecht, Sea Cliff, NY, USA, 3 (3)
IRC 4 (IRC – 10 Boats)
1. Leading Edge, J35, Tom Sutton, Houston, Texas, USA, 1 (1)
2. Mischief, Lyman-Morse 40, David Schwartz, Smithfield, RI, USA, 2 (2)
3. Carina, Custom 48, Rives Potts, Westbrook, CT, USA, 3 (3)
Swan 42 (One Design – 8 Boats)
1. Apparition, Swan 42, Colin Gordon, Guilford, CT, USA, 1 (1)
2. Hoss, Swan 42, Sail Team Seattle, Seattle, WA, USA, 2 (2)
3. Daring, Swan 42, John Hele, Newport, RI, USA, 3 (3)
J/111 (One Design – 11 Boats)
1. Wild Child, J/111, Kenn Fischburg, Norwich, CT, USA, 1 (1)
2. Wooton, J/111, William Smith, Chicago, IL, USA, 2 (2)
3. My Sharona, J/111, George Gamble, Pensacola, FL, USA, 3 (3)
C&C 30 OD (One Design – 9 Boats)
1. Themis, C&C 30, Walt Thirion , Annapolis , MD, USA, 1 (1)
2. Nyabinghi, C&C 30, Angus Davis, Bristol, RI, USA, 2 (2)
3. Just A Friend, C&C 30, Clayton Deutsch, Newport, RI, USA, 3 (3)
12 Metre (One Design – 9 Boats)
1. Victory 83, 12 Metre, Dennis Williams, Hobe Sound, FL, USA, 1 (1)
2. New Zealand, 12 Metre, Gunther Buerman Lexi Gahagan, Newport, RI, USA, 2 (2)
3. Courageous, 12Metre, Ralph Isham /Alexander Auersperg , Newport, RI, USA, 3 (3)
M32 (One Design – 4 Boats)
1. Bronco, M32, Michael Dominguez, Barrington, RI, USA, 1 (1)
2. Escape Velocity, Marstrom 32, Ron O’Hanley , Salem, MA, USA, 2 (2)
3. Convexity, M32, Donald Wilson, Chicago, IL, USA, 3 (3)
PHRF 1 (Spinnaker) (PHRF – 9 Boats)
1. Six Brothers, C-32, Chris Kramer, Rye, NY, USA, 1 (1)
2. Temptress, Taylor 41, John Gowell, East Greenwich, RI, USA, 2 (2)
3. Sunset Child, J 120, Marcus Cholerton-Brown, New York, NY, USA, 3 (3)
PHRF 2 (Spinnaker) (PHRF – 12 Boats)
1. Brigadoon X, Nimble 30 30, Robert Morton , Newport, Rhode Island, USA, 1 (1)
2. Grimace, J 100 33, Dawson Hodgson , Slocum, RI, USA, 2 (2)
3. Spirit, J 92S 30, EC Helme , Newport, RI, USA, 3 (3)
PHRF 3 (Non-Spinnaker) (PHRF – 6 Boats)
1. Crackerjack, Cambria 40, Alan Krulisch, Arlington, USA, 1 (1)
2. Flying Cloud 11, Swan 44 Mk 2 43.8, Gordon McNabb, Middletown, RI, USA, 2 (2)
3. Duck Soup, C&C 37 R/XL 39’6, Bill Clavin, Warwick, RI, USA, 3 (3)
Spartan (Photo by George Bekris )

Spartan (Photo by George Bekris )