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)

 

Fleet racing in 2015 at the Les Voiles de Saint Barth (Photo © Christophe Jouany )

Fleet racing in 2015 at the Les Voiles de Saint Barth (Photo © Christophe Jouany)

 Known throughout the world under the pseudonym of Kongo, street artist Cyril Phan will be in St. Barth in April. His arrival ties in perfectly with the wishes of the organizers of the Les Voiles de St. Barth through the creation of an event that combines sport, lifestyle and friendliness, where art has its rightful place. “Getting artists involved in the event is part of the DNA of Les Voiles de St. Barth, and we’ve entrusted the creation of several posters to artists over previous editions,” explained François Tolède, Organizing Director of Les Voiles de St. Barth. “We’ve offered Kongo the chance to create a piece on the theme of the sea and Les Voiles de St. Barth.”

“Since 1991, I have lived in Guadeloupe for half of each year. The Caribbean is a massive source of inspiration to me,” explained Phan. “My presence at Les Voiles de St. Barth this year is the result of a meeting I had with François Tolède last summer. He suggested I give a performance on a sail, which will subsequently be auctioned off for charity. Painting on a sail is something new for me, even though I’m used to painting pretty much anywhere. It’s going to be intriguing to do my thing within the context of Les Voiles de St. Barth.” Moreover, it’s a work that may well appear on the poster for the 2017 edition of the Caribbean sailing event.

Though he does not sail himself, this traveling enthusiast is delighted at the prospect of coming to St. Barth in the spring. “I’ll paint the sail live in front of a public audience during the regatta,” said Phan. “I love discovering other worlds. Three months ago I discovered the world of aviation, which involved painting a plane, and I’m continuing to explore the world of aeronautics through several collaborations, one of which is with the Fondation St Exupéry, he continues. The world of sailors strikes a logical chord with me and my own journey. It’s a thrilling world, filled with people who are passionate about what they do. Sharing my passion with them and discovering what makes them tick is bound to be an enriching experience.”

Kongo, an artist with multiple influences 

Born in 1969 to a Vietnamese father and a French mother, Cyril “Kongo” Phan arrived in France as a political refugee back in April 1975 after the fall of Saigon. After a childhood spent in the South of France with his grandparents, in the early 80s he headed off to Brazzaville in the Congo, to join his mother. It is here that he discovered a passion for art. “I have friends there who were just back from New York and introduced me to hip hop. I was immediately drawn in by the dance and the music, but more as a spectator rather than an actor,” says the man for whom drawing has always been a primary mode of expression. It was not until he returned to France that he discovered an interest for graffiti. “I was lucky enough to meet the people creating the graffiti and the drawings and they got me into it,” he recalls. Banding together, they created the MAC group. “Graffiti arrived in France with the hip hop movement after the stencilists. Back then we were just a group of kids from Le Faubourg St. Antoine. There were only 100 or 200 street artists who essentially geared themselves towards the microcosm of graffiti. We began by tagging walls, living in the moment. Nothing was planned. Today, there are thousands.” The frescos they painted on big walls meant that the group gained renown across France as well as internationally. “We were invited to paint in Europe and in the United States, which brought us in touch with the entire international graffiti scene at the time. That fuelled my lust for travel, which has always been part and parcel of my life.”

During a trip to Asia, Kongo met the director of the Asian branch of the Hermès fashion label, which was to mark the artist’s first steps in the luxury market. “He gave me the opportunity to paint the window of the Hermès shop at Hong Kong airport. The shop window proved to be a tremendous success, to the extent that the parent company in France invited me to reinterpret its famous silk scarf by creating the ‘graff.’ It was an incredible opportunity to work on such a fashion icon.” In the space of two months, the collection had sold out across the world. “This adventure, that began with a meeting and went on to nourish both our worlds, demonstrated that the luxury environment is not so far removed from that of graffiti as they both reference travel, handwork and singularity.”

Now recognized as one of the world’s key figures on the graffiti scene and a man capable of developing his practice to achieve genuine artistic maturity, Kongo continues to exhibit his works right around the globe, while collaborating with prestigious companies, such as French crystalware manufacturer Daum, for whom he is making a crystal sculpture. “I’m very interested in French expertise, which I’m trying to retranslate through a graphic vocabulary.”

The RORC Caribbean 600 fleet on the windward side of Antigua - Credit: RORC/Tim Wright

The RORC Caribbean 600 fleet on the windward side of Antigua – Credit: RORC/Tim Wright

 

The 8th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 started in spectacular style with the record 70 yacht fleet gathering in the starting area outside English Harbour, Antigua. Under the Pillars of Hercules, the magnificent collection of yachts started the 600 nmile race in a sublime 14 knot south-easterly breeze with brilliant sunshine. The conditions were enough to have the fleet fully ramped up and a not insignificant swell added to the excitement. Five highly competitive starts thrilled hundreds of spectators lining the cliffs at Shirley Heights and Fort Charlotte. Not only was this a record fleet for the RORC Caribbean 600, it was undoubtedly the highest quality of participants since the inaugural race in 2009.
CSA, IRC 2 & IRC 3 Start
24 yachts engaged in a pre-start peloton resulting in a tremendous battle for the line. The all-girl Sirens’ Tigress; IRC 2 champion, Scarlet Oyster and Polish team, Por Favor executed text book starts. However, winning the pin was American Swan 48, Isbjorn. Jua Kali also got away well which was marvellous for the British team who badly damaged their rig in the Atlantic en route to the start.
First to start the 2016 RORC Caribbean 600: CSA, IRC 2 and IRC 3 – Credit: RORC/Tim Wright
IRC 1 & CLASS40
17 yachts started the race with American Sydney 43, Christopher Dragon winning the pin ahead of Canadian Farr 45, Spitfire. Spanish Tales II was the first Class40 to cross the line with Antiguan entry Taz also starting well. Belladonna, skippered by RORC Admiral, Andrew McIrvine had a great start controlling the favoured coastal side of the course.
IRC 1 and Class40 fleet at the start of the 8th RORC Caribbean 600 Race  – Credit: RORC/Tim Wright
IRC Zero & IRC Canting Keel
The most impressive start in the eight-year history of the race featured 23 head-turning yachts. 115ft Baltic, Nikata tried to use her might to win the pin but encountered severe congestion, forcing the superyacht to round the wrong side of the pin. Lithuanian Volvo 60, Ambersail were overeager and with no room to bear away, sailed around the pin end buoy. Irish Cookson 50, Lee Overlay Partners was adjudged OCS and had to restart. Dutch Ker 51, Tonnerre 4 with octogenarian owner Piet Vroon on board had a cracking start, as did Hap Fauth’s Maxi72, Bella Mente going for speed and heading for the lift off the cliffs. Jim Clark and Kristy Hinze Clark’s, 100ft Maxi had a slightly conservative run-up to the line before the big winches growled in a dial-down and Comanche powered up, accelerating into the lead.
The IRC Zero and IRC Canting Keel fleet made an impression at the start of the RORC Caribbean 600 – Credit: RORC/Emma Louise Wyn Jones
Superyacht
The penultimate start featured two of the largest yachts competing in the RORC Caribbean 600. Southernwind 102 Farfalla executed a textbook start to begin the 600-nmile race, assisted by a crew including Steve Hayles as navigator, winner of the race with Niklas Zennstrom’s RAN in 2012. The magnificent sight of 178ft schooner Adix crossing the line under full sail drew gasps from the crowd ashore. Adix is the first three-masted schooner to take part in the race.
The magnificent three-masted schooner Adix at the start – Credit: RORC/Tim Wright
MOCRA Multihull
Six Multihulls including MOD70s Phaedo3 & Concise 10 lined up for the last start of the day. Phaedo3 and Concise 10 locked horns in the pre-start as expected, with Phaedo3 co-skippered by Lloyd Thornburg and Brian Thompson gaining a small but significant advantage at the start. Concise 10 had to tack offshore to escape bad air and ploughed through several spectator boats that had gathered close to the exclusion zone. The two MOD70s are expected to have a titanic battle over the next two days. Belgian Zed 6 reported a broken daggerboard before the start but managed a repair in time to begin the race.
With a south-easterly breeze the fleet took a long starboard tack to Green Island where they bore away for Barbuda hoisting downwind sails. The sleigh ride has already begun for Comanche, Phaedo3 and Concise 10 with the YB tracker already showing the trio hitting close to 30 knots of boat speed. The wind is expected to return to the east before morning and freshen to a possible 20 knots when many more of this magnificent fleet will be enjoying the magic carpet ride of strong trade winds.
Phaedo3 flying two hulls past Willoughby Bay, Antigua – Credit: RORC/Tim Wright
Watching the start from the cliffs at Shirley Heights was RORC Chief Executive Eddie Warden Owen who could not help but marvel at the quality of the fleet: “This is an amazing collection of boats sailed by the best offshore sailors in the world and was shown by the intensity of the start. Each fleet battled for the outer favoured end of the line, caused by the wind being south of its normal easterly direction. No one held back,” said Warden Owen “And I am surprised we only had one boat over the line at the start. The lighter wind increasing as the week goes on, could favour a small boat for an overall win under the IRC rating rule. It will be fun to watch, but I’d much prefer to be out there racing.”
Hundreds of spectators watched the start of the 8th RORC Caribbean 600 from ashore and on the water Credit: RORC/Tim Wright
For more information visit the RORC Caribbean 600 mini-site: www.caribbean600.rorc.org
High resolution images will be available from the race for editorial use and requests for specific interviews/photographs/video should be made to: press@rorc.org
RACE MINISITE: Follow the race on the minisite: http://caribbean600.rorc.org
Keep up to date with all the news. There will be blogs from the boats themselves on the race course, images, video and daily race reports. Follow the action as it unfolds on the RORC Caribbean 600 website.
SOCIAL MEDIA:
Facebook. Follow the race on: https://www.facebook.com/RoyalOceanRacingClub
Twitter: #rorcrc600  – Follow @rorcracing
TRACK THE FLEET:
Every yacht is fitted with a race tracker and their progress can be followed on the race website: http://caribbean600.rorc.org/Tracking/2016-fleet-tracking.html
Join the Virtual Regatta HERE: http://click.virtualregatta.com/?li=4559
Comanche Sydney Hobart Line Honour 2015

Comanche take line honours in the 2015 Sydney Hobart Race.

Jim Clark and Kristy Hinze-Clark’s super maxi Comanche pulled off an incredible feat tonight, taking line honours in the 71st edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, winning the Illingworth trophy and a Rolex Yacht Master II timepiece. This was the first time in 17 years that the most coveted title in offshore yacht racing has been won by an American team since Larry Ellison’s Sayonara won in 1998.

Comanche’s official finish time for the 2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race was 2 days, 8 hours, 58 minutes and 30 seconds.

Designed to break records, the 100 foot maxi debuted in last year’s edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart and since then has circled the globe, collecting the most prestigious titles in yachting – setting a new 24 hour monohull distance record, line honours in the New York Yacht Club Transatlantic Race and the Rolex Fastnet Race – Comanche’s performance this past year has been unlike anything ever seen in yacht racing. Returning to Australia, seeking the title that they so narrowly missed out on last year, was a Herculean effort, which has paid off nicely.

Despite facing retirement after having suffered significant damage (to a dagger board and rudder) on the first night, skipper Ken Read made the game-changing call to effect repairs and finish the race, saying: “I don’t care if we limp over the line!”

A true test of stamina and determination, the international crew of 21 included co-owner Kristy Hinze-Clark and fellow Australian, America’s Cup winner Jimmy Spithill. Commenting on her first Rolex Sydney Hobart, Hinze-Clark described her experience: “It was really gruelling. Pure terror at one stage. Excitement and now just total joy. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.”

The French-designed maxi managed to extend their lead this afternoon as they rounded Tasman Island and crossed Storm Bay towards the finish line, putting solid distance between fellow American competitor George David’s Rambler 88, which is expected to finish in the early Tuesday morning (AEDT). Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin 100 is in close pursuit despite having severed their starboard dagger board overnight, crashing through the rough seas.

The 2015 edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race has delivered some of the most grueling race conditions since 2004. Almost one third of the fleet of 108 retired in the first 48 hours – the litany of damage included rudders, dagger boards, masts and sails. The remaining teams have their sights set on the finish line in Hobart in hopes of a win on corrected time.

Most of the smaller yachts have only just passed the halfway mark in Bass Strait and as the breeze continues to lighten towards the Tasman coast the Tattersall’s Cup, for overall corrected time winner, is still in play.

 

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)

11693816_10153225448748598_2198729541818621674_n

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.

11667484_10153223395348598_1320167463211771786_n

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)

 

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

 

Dorade present and past. (Photos courtesy of Dorade “Return to Blue Water”)

Dorade present and past. (Photos courtesy of Dorade “Return to Blue Water”)

NEWPORT, R.I. (June 4, 2015) – In late June, one of sailing’s most celebrated yachts will attempt to retrace the steps of her first, and most significant, victory. The 52-foot yawl Dorade, owned by Pam Levy and Matt Brooks (Tiburon, Calif.), will join 40 other boats competing in the Transatlantic Race 2015, which starts off Newport, R.I., and finishes off the southwestern coast of England. The race is organized by the Royal Yacht Squadron, the New York Yacht Club, the Royal Ocean Racing Club and the Storm Trysail Club.

Dorade, the seventh design from the Sparkman & Stephens design shop, was barely a year old when Olin and Rod Stephens and a crew of five sailors, including their father, started the 1931 Transatlantic Race off Newport, R.I., bound for Plymouth, England, 2,800 miles away. The trip took just over 17 days. Dorade was the first boat to finish and the race’s overall champion on corrected time.

For the Stephens brothers, it was a transformative moment: in the coming years, they would each take on primary roles in the development of the sport.  Dorade would make her own wake as well, stringing together an impressive, unparalleled for the time, series of victories on the East and West Coasts of the United States and in Europe.

After a series of significant re-fits, the boat was returned to original condition a few years ago by Levy and Brooks. Perfect for installation in a museum, many said, or for civilized day racing on the classic yacht circuit. But Levy and Brooks had other plans, namely to take the grand dame of ocean racing and repeat all of the races it won in the 1930s, including the Transatlantic Race, Newport Bermuda, Transpac and Rolex Fastnet.

“Everyone said we were proposing something that wasn’t even in the realm of possibility,” says Brooks of Dorade’s four-race “Return to Blue Water” campaign. “Now we’re coming up to the last two races—the Transatlantic Race 2015 and the Rolex Fastnet Race—and no one is questioning that the boat can do this.” (Two years ago, Dorade won overall, corrected-time honors in the Transpac Race, beating a host of the latest carbon-fiber rockets; in the 2014 Newport Bermuda Race, she took first in her class under IRC.)

“Olin and Rod designed one hell of a boat,” says Brooks. “I haven’t met anyone who has sailed on her who doesn’t learn to love her and trust her. She’s very strong, very dependable; she just needs to be treated right. With wood boats, you’re always in refit mode. But we’re racing and sailing this boat 10,000 miles a year and she absolutely responds to that.”

Winning silver with this historic yacht requires a comprehensive commitment. Brooks, Levy and their team are constantly maintaining and refining the yacht. This past winter, says Brooks, getting the bottom as smooth as possible and improving sail design were two areas of focus. Sailing the boat also requires a specific touch.

“If you are trying to muscle the boat into submission at the helm it is never going to happen,” says Levy. “It will win. Having a balanced helm is critical.”
Onboard video of Dorade’s winning 1931 Transatlantic Race performance; she completed the course in 17 days, one hour, 14 minutes.

For the Transatlantic Race 2015, Brooks and Levy have set as their first goal to beat the 17 days, one hour and 14 minutes it took Dorade to sail the course in 1931. Modern technology, including synthetic sail fabric, should give this year’s team an edge; however, the course in 2015 is likely to be quite a bit longer than it was in 1931 due to an extreme number of icebergs in the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. The fleet will be required to sail east for a while before turning north for the Great Circle Route, which takes advantage of the earth’s slightly oval shape to shave critical miles off the passage between the United States and Europe.

Whether or not they can match the boat’s pace in 1931, Brooks and Levy couldn’t be more excited about the prospect of this legendary yacht coming full circle to its first significant accomplishment.

“Of all the races we’ve done, the Transatlantic Race is the one that makes our heart go pitter patter, because it was Olin and Rod’s first big victory, and it’s what launched them in business in yacht design,” says Levy. “We know from talking to Olin’s family and from what he has written that he had a real affection for the boat. It gives us a lot of pleasure to do well with her.”

More about the Transatlantic Race 2015

The Transatlantic Race 2015 charts a 2,800-nautical-mile course from Newport, R.I., to Lizard Point, South Cornwall, England. The race is organized by the Royal Yacht Squadron, the New York Yacht Club, the Royal Ocean Racing Club and the Storm Trysail Club. Pre-start activities will take place at the New York Yacht Club’s Harbour Court clubhouse in Newport, while awards will be presented at the Royal Yacht Squadron’s Cowes Castle clubhouse on the Isle of Wight. Three separate starts – June 28, July 1 and July 5 – will feature 40-plus boats ranging from the newest designs of 2015 to those going as far back as 1915.

For a list of entrants and their respective race starts, visit http://bit.ly/1BDPZcm

Follow the Transatlantic Race on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TransatlanticRace

 

Comanche before its record-breaking run at the 70th Storm Trysail Club Block Island Race. Photo by: Randy Tankoos.

Comanche before its record-breaking run at the 70th Storm Trysail Club Block Island Race. Photo by: Randy Tankoos.

The 70th edition of the Storm Trysail Club Block Island Race yielded winners in ten classes – four IRC (including one for Double-hand), four PHRF, J/44 and Multihull – and a place in the record books for Jim and Kristy Hinze Clark’s new 100-foot Maxi Comanche. Fifty eight boats started the 185 nautical mile race (from Stamford Yacht Club in Connecticut, down Long Island Sound, around Block Island, R.I. and back to Stamford) on Friday afternoon (May 22) of Memorial Day Weekend, with Comanche finishing exactly one second after 2:50 a.m. the next morning, giving her an elapsed time of 11 hours 25 minutes and 01 second.

“Each year I ask the fastest boat in the fleet to give me a call when they are abeam of New Haven on the return,” said Event Chair Ray Redniss about Comanche’s call that came in at 0024 Saturday morning. “This was the earliest one yet, and a new record was established!”
Comanche before its record-breaking run at the 70th Storm Trysail Club Block Island Race. Photo credit: Randy Tankoos. Available to download in high resolution by clicking the photo above

Redniss said that to be precise, this year’s race was one mile shorter than that on which the 90-foot Rambler’s 2013 record of 13 hours 15 minutes and 55 seconds was set. “After 15 years of being at the entrance to Stamford Harbor, the finish line was moved out to the The Cows (Red Bell “32”) in order to allow enough water depth for Comanche to compete; with a draft of 22 feet, only a high tide would allow her to finish in the harbor,” he said. In 2013,Rambler completed the 186 mile course with an average time of four minutes and 17 seconds per mile.  Comanche’s completion of the 185 mile course this year was with an average time of three minutes and 42 seconds per mile. “Speed-wise, this translates toComanche averaging 16.2 knots and Rambler averaging 14 knots.”

Comanche, which won her IRC 4 class, took home the Governors Race West Trophy for best elapsed time in the IRC Fleet; the William Tripp, Jr. Memorial Trophy for best corrected time in the IRC Fleet; and the self-explanatory Harvey Conover Memorial Overall Trophy.

“If I could have drawn the weather map, I think it is what I would have drawn,” said Comanche’s Navigator Stan Honey. The favorable conditions included winds of 15-27 knots and outgoing/incoming tides at all the right times, especially at “The Race” and “Plum Gut,” two notoriously difficult passage choices for exiting and re-entering Long Island Sound.

For Greg Gigliotti (Stamford, Conn.), owner of the 62-foot Gunboat Tribe, which won the first-ever multihull class, nothing could have been more perfect than averaging 20 knots of boat speed and reaching in flat water from The Race to Block Island in a short six hours, then fetching the finish line after returning through Plum Gut. “Everything tipped in our favor; it was a big part of getting a good time (finishing as the second boat, three and three-quarter hours behind Comanche). We had eight adults and three Opti sailors, all sons of fathers onboard. It was their first overnight, so we spent most of the race explaining that most races aren’t like this; normally you are on the rail and normally you’re not moving along at 18-20 knots. They were very lucky to be part of something special.”

Repeating its PHRF class (3) victory from last year was American Yacht Club’s J/105 Young American, another entry with junior sailors, but in this case, the kids were the majority onboard with Peter Becker serving as the team’s single adult safety officer and coach. “Last year, we won our class and finished third overall, which was a huge moment,” said Becker. “This year, we were first in PHRF division and first overall in PHRF, so we bested our performance by a big margin. The kids are on fire; they love it!”

The Young American team was pressured up at the start for their spinnaker run in 25 knots. When the tack of their chute blew out, they switched to a spare and were surfing down Long Island Sound at 15 knots.  “We were all hiking off the stern and hanging with the big boats and double-handed boats.  They started the double-hands, then small to large classes in order, so Comanche was the last start. It was really cool when it went whizzing by us doing 18-20 knots.”

Had Comanche not competed, Andrew and Linda Weiss’s (Mamaroneck, N.Y.) Sydney 43Christopher Dragon would have won overall. The team started ahead of Comanche in the third-to-last start (for IRC 3) and finished the race in a little under 23 hours.  “It’s the fastest race I’ve ever done, and I’ve been competing in this since the mid-1970s,” said Andrew Weiss.  “We got to 1BI in nine hours and were the second monohull around Block Island behind Comanche. Then, coming up the Sound, Snow Lion and Temptation passed us. They normally pass us before Block Island.  We’ve never won overall before; this was the closest we’ve ever come, but Comanche…it’s a different kind of boat, so we still feel like we won!”

Chairman Redniss said this was a tough year for getting boats prepared for the Block Island Race, which was a week earlier than usual. “It was quite cold and harbors were frozen; yards were simply weeks behind.  Overall, we had 68 entries; however eight notified us before race day that they weren’t going to make it, and another two did not make the start. Conditions for the race were near perfect, but of course, another 10 or 12 degrees warmer would have been nice!  We were cold on the Committee Boat overnight; I can imagine there was a lot of shivering on the rail!”

The Block Island Race was first held in 1946 and is a qualifier for the North Ocean Racing Trophy (IRC), the Double Handed Ocean Racing Trophy (IRC), the New England Lighthouse Series (PHRF), and the Gulf Stream Series (IRC). The Block Island Race is also a qualifier for the Caper, Sagola, and Windigo trophies awarded by the YRA of Long Island Sound and the ‘Tuna” Trophy for the best combined IRC scores in the Edlu (40%) and the Block Island Race (60%).This year’s Tuna Trophy was won by Christopher Dragon with first place finishes in both events.

Storm Trysail Club 70th Block Island Race
May 22, 2015 – Top-Three Finishes
Place, Yacht Name, Type, Owner/Skipper, Hometown, Results, Total Points

IRC 1 DH (IRC – 8 Boats)
1. Mireille, J 120, Hewitt Gaynor , Fairfield, CT, USA – 1 ; 1
2. Alibi, J 120, Gardner Grant , Westport, CT, USA – 2 ; 2
3. Pegasus, Beneteau First 36.7, Hartmut Ludwig , West Windsor, NJ, USA – 3 ; 3

IRC 2 (IRC – 8 Boats)
1. Carina, Custom 48, Rives Potts , Westbrook, CT, USA – 1 ; 1
2. Talisman, Farr 395, John Bailey , Darien, CT, USA – 2 ; 2
3. Red Sky, J 122, John Pearson , Setauket , NY, USA – 3 ; 3

J/44 (IRC – 4 Boats)
1. Kincsem, Joerg Esdorn , Katonah, NY, USA – 1 ; 1
2. Vamp, Leonard Sitar , Holmdel, NJ, USA – 2 ; 2
3. Kenai, Chris Lewis , Houston, TX, USA – 3 ; 3

IRC 3 (IRC – 10 Boats)
1. Christopher Dragon, Sydney 43, Andrew & Linda Weiss , Mamaroneck, NY, USA – 1 ; 1
2. Soulmates, Custom Goetz 40, Adam Loory , Mamaroneck, NY, USA – 2 ; 2
3. Warrior Won, Xp 44, Christopher Sheehan , Larchmont, NY, USA – 3 ; 3

IRC 4 (IRC – 6 Boats)
1. Comanche, Maxi 100, Jim Clark/Kristy Hinze Clark , Newport, RI, USA – 1 ; 1
2. Temptation – Oakcliff, Custom Ker 50, Arthur Santry , Newport, RI, USA – 2 ; 2
3. Snow Lion, Ker 50, Lawrence Huntington , New York, NY, USA – 3 ; 3

PHRF 1 DH (PHRF_ToT – 4 Boats)
1. Weegie, Columbia 32, Richard Fleischman , Setauket, NY, USA – 1 ; 1
2. Six Brothers, C-32, Chris Kramer , Rye, NY, USA – 2 ; 2
3. Max, Pogo 10.5, Moritz Hilf , New York, NY, USA – 3 ; 3

PHRF 2 (PHRF_ToT – 6 Boats)
1. Argo, Catalina 400, Boris Keselman , Brooklyn, NY, USA – 1 ; 1
2. Inisharon, F&C 44, Jim Murphy , Rye, NY, USA – 2 ; 2
3. Audacious, Frers 33, Robert Farnum , Oxford, CT, USA – 3 ; 3

PHRF 3 (PHRF_ToT – 11 Boats)
1. Young American, J 105, AYC Jr. Big Boat Team – Becker , Rye, NY, USA – 1 ; 1
2. That’s Ridiculous, Beneteau First 36.7, Francis Nilsen , Sound Beach, NY, USA – 2 ; 2
3. Milky Way, Dufour 40, Alexander Natanzon , Upper Saddle River, NJ, USA – 3 ; 3

PHRF 4 (PHRF_ToT – 2 Boats)
1. Sundari, Farr 400, Barry Gold / Scott Florio , Mamaroneck, NY, USA – 1 ; 1
2. Brigand, Custom 50, Sean Saslo , Branford, CT, USA – 2 ; 2

Multihull (NEMA) (ToT – 3 Boats)
1. Tribe, Gunboat 62, Greg Gigliotti , Stamford, CT, USA – 1 ; 1
2. Fault Tolerant, GB 60, Robert Alexander , Rye, NY, USA – 2 ; 2
3. Infidel, Dragonfly 32, Daniel Galyon , Binghamton, NY, USA – 3 ; 3

OVERALL TROPHIES

GEORGE LAUDER TROPHY – Best performance by a Vintage boat (25 years old +): Kincsem,   Joerg Esdorn

COMMODORE’S GRAIL TROPHY – Best corrected time by a Multihull: Tribe,Greg Gigliotti

GOVERNORS RACE WEST TROPHY – Best elapsed time in the IRC Fleet: Comanche,Jim Clark/Kristy Hinze Clark

WILLIAM TRIPP, JR MEMORIAL TROPHY– Best corrected time in the IRC Fleet: Comanche, Jim Clark/Kristy Hinze Clark

 TERRAPIN TROPHY– Best corrected time in PHRF: Young American, AYC Jr. Big Boat Team

 GOVERNORS RACE EAST TROPHY – Best elapsed time – PHRF: Sundari,               Barry Gold

GEROLD ABELS – Best Performance Double-Handed: Mireille, Hewitt Gaynor

 RODDIE WILLIAMS TEAM RACE TROPHY: Storm Trysail White, Carina/Sundari/Talisman

 TUNA TROPHY – Best IRC combined scores in the Edlu (40%) and the BI Race (60%): Christopher Dragon, Andrew & Linda Weiss

 COMMODORE’S TROPHY – To the boat that has won a handicap class by the smallest margin of time over the 2nd and 3rd place boats: Carina, Rives Potts

 HARVEY CONOVER MEMORIAL OVERALL TROPHY – Awarded to the boat that has won her class and, in the judgment of the Flag Officers and Race Committee, had the best overall performance: Comanche, Jim Clark/ Kristy Hinze Clark