Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

A record-sized fleet of the world’s largest performance yachts is readying itself in Porto Cervo, Sardinia for next week’s Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. Organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda and the International Maxi Association (IMA) with Rolex as title sponsor, this year’s event takes place over 4th-10th September and has 52 entries. Of these, 25 belong to members of the IMA, the body which since 1979 has been guiding and structuring maxi yacht racing globally, in collaboration with the world’s leading yacht clubs.

In terms of length, the fleet spans the giant 49.7m Ohana to entries at the shorter end of the IMA’s permitted size range – 60 footers such as Gérard Logel’s Swan 601 @robas and the Wally 60 Wallyño.

The biggest class at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup will once again be the Wallys (an associated class within the IMA), which features 13 examples of the modernist high performance luxury yachts. Leading the charge off the Costa Smeralda will be the two Wallycentos, Sir Lindsay Owen Jones’ Magic Carpet Cubed and the latest example launched last October, David Leuschen’s Galateia, plus the elongated version, (now 32.7m) Open Season of International Maxi Association President, Thomas Bscher.


Photo: ROLEX / Carlo Borlenghi

The Supermaxi class has a formidable line-up including Irvine Laidlaw’s new Swan 115 Highland Fling 15, plus two Baltic Yachts-built high performance carbon fibre one-offs: the Nauta 115 Nikata and the Javier Jaudenes-designed Win Win – both making their Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup debuts. This year sees the return of Sir Peter Harrison’s Farr 115 ketch, Sojana, following a lengthy refit.

The Js are back this year. Lionheart and Velsheda will match race their way around the race track.

The Maxi class (79-100ft) will see two high profile yachts making their Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup debuts. Best known for her offshore program, Mike Slade’s Farr 100 Leopard 3 has travelled to the four corners of the earth to compete in races such as the Rolex Sydney Hobart, the RORC Caribbean 600 and the Fastnet Race, in which she has twice scored line honours victories.

Despite only being two years old, George David’s Juan Kouyoumdjian-designed Rambler 88, also has notched up thousands of sea miles. This year alone she has won the IMA’s annual Volcano Race (from Gaeta, Italy, south around the volcanic Aeolian Islands off northeast Sicily) and last week claimed line honours in the Palermo-Montecarlo race, the fourth and final event of the IMA’s inaugural Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge.

The Maxi class also includes four entries from Southern Wind Shipyard, including the Farr-designed 100ft Blues and Michael Cotter’s Windfall. There are two SWS 82s: Massimilano Florio’s Grande Orazio was winner of the IMA’s Volcano Race in 2015, while Ammonite is brand new, campaigned by leading Australian skipper Marcus Blackmore.

Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship

As ever a major feature of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is the Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship. This year six examples of the ultra competitive, owner-driven, grand prix racers will be lining up, their challenge being to dislodge Hap Fauth’s dominant Judel Vrolijk design, Bella Mente. The reigning Rolex Maxi 72 World Champion  goes into this year’s Worlds straight from victories at Copa del Rey MAPFRE and the inaugural Maxi 72 North American Championship held in Newport, RI in June.

“This is our favourite regatta,” commented Fauth, who is President of the Maxi 72 Class, which is affiliated to the IMA. “There will be six 72 footers and competition will be fierce. It is always challenging conditions both for the around the buoys and the coastal race. It is normally all you want.”

As to Bella Mente being favourite for a third World title, Fauth added: “We have the oldest boat and I am the oldest helmsman, but we have got a very good team. Our execution over the course of a regatta has been good and if there is one reason why we might have a small advantage it is because of that. But it is a very small advantage: The margin of victory in this fleet is two or three seconds – the boats are very close.”


Photo: ROLEX / Carlo Borlenghi

 

The Mini Maxi class (60-79ft) also has a strong line-up. Roberto Lacorte’s Mark Mills 68 Supernikka returns to defend her title, while she will be up against another Mills 68, the more thoroughbred racer, Prospector, which as Alegre and then Caol Ila R was one of the most competitive boats in what is now the Maxi 72 class. Also to be watched will be American Bryon Ehrhart’s Reichel Pugh 63, Lucky. Winner of last year’s Transatlantic Race, Lucky in her previous life was Loki, winner of the 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart.

In 2015 the Mini Maxi Racer-Cruiser class had one of the tightest finishes and the top four boats return this year, including winner, Riccardo de Michele’s Vallicelli 80 H2O, which finished on equal points with Giuseppe Puttini’s Swan 65 Shirlaf (which this year will face stiff competition from new IMA member Marietta Strasoldo’s Swan 651 Lunz Am Meer.)

Andrew McIrvine, Secretary General of the IMA commented: “It will be an exciting year with a number of new boats competing, especially in the SuperMaxi division where a new generation of more race-oriented boats are appearing. The challenge of manoeuvring these huge craft around the tight courses around the islands of the Maddalena makes for a great spectacle and keeps so many sailors coming back year after year.”

Racing will take place over a mixture of windward-leeward and coastal courses. As usual there will be a magnificent social programme including the annual International Maxi Association Dinner and parties sponsored by Rolex and Audi.

Entry List

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2016 Tracking

 

#sail #race #racing

 

Lucky is first-to-finish in the Transatlantic Race 2015 (Photo  by Lloyd Images)

Lucky is first-to-finish in the Transatlantic Race 2015 (Photo by Lloyd Images)

(Friday, July 10, 2015) –  Late afternoon, British time, Bryon Ehrhart’s Lucky was the first boat in the Transatlantic Race 2015 to cross the finish line at The Lizard, ending a brutal 8 days 22 hours 5 minutes and 3 seconds at sea on a 2,800-mile eastbound crossing of the North Atlantic, sailed mostly in strong winds.

At present Lucky holds the lead in the Transatlantic Race 2015 under IRC handicap, but the title remains under threat from boats yet to finish. Similarly, her impressive course time is likely to be bettered by the maxis which started four days after her.

“We are excited to have finished; it was an interesting test,” said Ehrhart, who earlier this year acquired his Reichel/Pugh 63 (formerly the 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart winner, Loki) with the principle aim of competing in this race.  Erhart, a Chicagoan, is a member of the New York Yacht Club and the Royal Ocean Racing Club – two of the four clubs, with the addition of Storm Trysail Club and the Royal Yacht Squadron – that comprised the organizing authority for the race.

Navigator Ian Moore added: “Obviously the whole crew are really excited to have made it to the finish and to be the first boat home. It has been a very long night and a very long day. The beat to the finish felt like it would never end and the wind started to run out. It is a fantastic feeling to finally finish the race.”

 

Competing in IRC 2, Lucky set off from Newport, R.I., on July 1 with the second group of starters, including Clarke Murphy’s longer and much-higher-rated 100’ Nomad IV. Nomad and Lucky sailed neck and neck for the first few days, but Lucky took a more direct easterly route towards Point Alpha, the ice exclusion, which allowed her to reach its south-western tip 13 miles ahead.

The two boats continued due east after passing the south-eastern corner of the exclusion zone, staying in the best breeze as they determined how cross to a patch of light winds on Sunday, July 5. Ultimately Luckymade the best of it, adding six miles to her lead over Nomad IV. By this stage both boats had passed all of the first starters, which had departed three days before them, with the exception of the biggest boat in the fleet, the 138’ Mariette of 1915. Lucky finally passed the 100-year-old schooner two days from the finish, at the same time as she was splitting from Nomad IV to head north.

With the Azores High forecast to extend over the western tip of the U.K. as Lucky made her final approach to the finish, she headed north where the breeze would remain strongest for longest. Thanks to this she managed to extend her lead to more than 60 miles, but with the risk that Nomad IV, approaching from the west-southwest would come in with pressure and overtake her.

Lucky lost ground as she headed north of the Scilly Isles early this morning and was forced to beat up the narrow passage between Land’s End and its off-lying Traffic Separation Scheme allowing Nomad IV to close. But it was too little too late.

 

Lucky crossed the line while Nomad still had 37 miles to sail in a dying breeze. Nonetheless it was close after more than 3,000 miles of racing—in distance sailed—considering the two boats are so different:Lucky, a 63’ long stripped out racer; Nomad IV, at 100’, a much bigger boat but fitted out with a luxury interior, and also having suffered a catalogue of problems on this race.

“It was always in the back of our minds that they were out there charging along,” admitted Moore. “But it would have been a big job for them to catch up 50 miles in 12 hours.”

As to what contributed to Lucky’s success, Ehrhart commented: “It was everything. The crew is certainly the leading star in this and the boat was well prepared as was the crew. It was a good navigational plan by Soapy [Ian Moore]. We think we sailed as well as we could. They didn’t leave anything out and there was nothing I wish we could have changed. I just hope that the result stands.”

Elsewhere in the fleet, last Sunday’s starters now have the bit between their teeth and are making fast progress. All four boats—the two maxis, Comanche and Rambler 88, and the two trimarans, Phaedo³ andParadox—have been eating up the miles, none more so than Lloyd Thornburg’s MOD70 Phaedo³. In the 24 hours until 1030 ETD (1430 UTC) she had sailed a massive 626 miles at an average speed of 26.5 knots. In the inter-maxi monohull dust-up, Rambler 88 was doing a good of job of staying in touch with the 100’Comanche, having lost only 30 miles to her in the last 24 hours.

These boats are now picking off the rest of the fleet. Some 275 miles north of Phaedo³ is the current Cruiser class leader, Jack Madden’s Swan 60, Lady B.

“We have been doing well,” reported Lady B’s navigator J.J. Schock. “We are averaging about high nines speed over ground and everyone is in good health and spirits.” This morning Lady B was seeing 25 knots from the southwest and two-meter seas, which Schock described as having a long period, so “quite comfortable. We are sailing along on starboard tack under main and No. 3. Everything is calm on board and we’re just trying to make good speed.”

Schock acknowledges that this crossing has been particularly breezy, with wind speed having remained in the high 30s for days, occasionally accompanied by squalls into the 40s and one gust reaching 50 knots.

Being in the Cruiser class means they have the luxury of not having to eat reconstituted freeze dried food. “We have a wonderful cook on board and she is taking very good care of us. When it has been rougher, we have been having some peanut butter and jelly and crackers. When it has been nice we have had some nice meals,” said Schock.

Further up the fleet Earl St. Aldwyn’s Shipman 50 Zephyr experienced some drama last night when the shackle on the spinnaker halyard exploded, causing the kite to tumble into the water and for the boat to run over it. “We managed to recover it remarkably with no damage,” reported skipper David Sharples. “We sent George Bullard up the mast to recover the halyard at first light.”

Now up to sixth on the water, Ross Applebey’s Oyster Lightwave 48 Scarlet Oyster was this morning running downwind, but had prudently dropped the spinnaker in the early hours after the breeze had built to 30 knots. “We are pointing at the mark, but it is pretty rolly. I think we have managed to find ourselves a bit of current again, so it is heating up again. We are in pretty good shape,” commented Applebey.

The battle remains relentless against the ocean racing classics Carina and Dorade, but Scarlet Oyster is now ahead of the former on handicap, but still lying third to the immaculate S&S classic in IRC Class 4.

 

Lucky Crew Celebrates taking Line Honors (Photo by Lloyd Images)

Lucky Crew Celebrates taking Line Honors (Photo by Lloyd Images)

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

 

St Barths Bucket Regatta 2015 final day (Photo©2015 by Tim Wright / www.photoaction.com )

St Barths Bucket Regatta 2015 final day (Photo ©2015 Tim Wright / www.photoaction.com )

 

St Barths, FWI – Perseverance was the key to victory today in four classes (Gazelles, Elegantes, Mademoiselles, Grande Dames) sailing their last and final race at the 2015 St Barths Bucket Regatta. Sailing the “wrong way around” course meant the 35 competing superyachts launched their massive spinnakers at the start and took a clockwise tour of the island, testing sailing skills with a particularly lengthy beat up the backside. And though the superyachts, for safety’s sake, sail by rules that keep them at least 40 metres apart at all times, the competition was as close as anyone could wish for.

Winning the day in Gazelles was the 44.9-metre sloop Visione, which also took overall regatta honors to win the coveted “Bucket,” which was held high with victor’s pride by owner Hasso Plattner at the final awards ceremony.

“When P2 was winning, we knew we had to be second,” said Visione’s tactician Jens Christiansen, explaining that in the pursuit-style format used here, Visione had started 18 minutes after the 38.1-metre Perini Navi sloop P2 and 15 minutes after the 33.4-metre Vitters Shipyard sloop Inoui, which had been second and third, respectively, behind Visione going into today. “Things got tense when we broke a code sail sheet on the way to the first mark. We got another sheet on and thought we had it under control when bang, it broke again. We really had it highly loaded; we didn’t lose boats but we lost 400-500 metres.” Thankfully, things went uphill after that. “We caught them (P2) quite quickly and passed them on the other side of the island, beating them by quite a lot in the end. The 10-11 knot winds suited us well. We were sailing very fast on the long beat, going farther out because we are that much faster than anybody else and staying clear of other boats in other classes so as not to get entangled in them tacking on each other.”

 

Meteor Day 3 (Photo ©2015 by Tim Wright / www.photoaction.com )

Meteor Day 3 (Photo ©2015 by Tim Wright / www.photoaction.com )

Visione’s first Bucket was in 2004, and the yacht has competed in half a dozen or so Buckets since. Built in 2003, well before many others here, she is still the boat to beat on principle. “We are the fastest, and we always start last. With the old rating, however, we always had to sail more than a perfect race to be able to win. We’ve been close by finishing second overall once or twice, but never winning. Now with the new rating system (captured within the new ORCsy rule), we can win.”

P2 took a sixth in the race to fall behind Visione and runner-up Inoui (which finished second today), in the overall standings.

The 30.2-metre sloop Cape Arrow, chartered by Pier Luigi Loro Piana, turned in all second-place finishes to top the Mademoiselles.

“We did two very good races on the first two days and managed to stay in front of boats that were faster upwind than we were,” said Cape Arrow’s tactician Thomaso Chieffi, veteran of four America’s Cup campaigns and a Volvo Ocean Race winner (as tactician aboard ABN Amro). “Today, we weren’t hoping to win the series; we were looking to maintain our second, but with the little change of rating that occurred overnight to the leading boat (Bequia, which won both race one and race two and took on five more minutes of handicap for race three, in which she finished sixth) and the fact that today was more our race, it made us eventually score a second and win the series overall. We are very pleased with the result. It came a little bit out of the blue, but we feel somehow that we deserve it. For peace of mind we checked the results, and we would have won the series regardless of the rating change.”

 

The 46.4-metre Royal Huisman ketch Elfje started 21 minutes behind the 44.6-metre schooner Adela and edged her out at the finish by eight seconds to win in Elegantes today. The two boats ended up sharing overall class victory in the interest of an amicable resolution to a safety rule debate, while close contender Marie, the 54.6-metre Vitters Shipyard ketch that had been tied with Adela and Elfje going into today, finished sixth for a third overall.

 

” This was one of the more interesting dilemmas I have come across in my 22 years of race management, ” said Race Chairman Peter Craig. “In short, the new ORCsy rule rounds to 30 seconds for starts in the interest of safe racing – a requirement for superyacht racing. When the first 2 races were rescored because of an inadvertent measurement issue with one certificate, the rounding factor was the difference in determining the class winner. With the two yachts overlapped at the finish of the final deciding race, the suggestion for dual class winners by Elfje and Adela is an example of good sportsmanship that is in line with the spirit of the Bucket. The two owners and crews are to be commended.”

 

As for the ORCsy rule that is in its infancy and was being closely analyzed here, Elfje’s tactician Mike Sanderson said, “It’s going to be brilliant. It’s going to take superyacht racing from being pure entertainment to something where we can compete properly and know how to change things each year to perform better.”

 

Taking overall victory in Grand Dames, the 37.6 metre ketch Axia was spot-on with its timing at today’s start and went on to turn in an equally brilliant performance over the course of the day to beat out yesterday’s leader, the 55.9-metre Perini Navi ketch Rosehearty.

 

“Today was by definition, truly a medium-wind day,” said tactician Robbie Doyle. “If it had been a light-wind course, we would have owed Rosehearty more time, and it would have been really tough for us. They would have had another five or six minutes, which is what we beat them by.” Doyle was explaining the race committee’s choice each day, under the new rule, to officially designate the wind conditions as light, medium or high, which in turn effects starting times and sometimes order of starts within classes. “When the medium-wind flag went up, we knew it was going to be a good race for us, especially because it was on the bottom edge of medium, which favors us. Still, it was a tough day, Rosehearty sailed a good race. We caught her at the top mark by setting ourselves up on a lay line that was right on, knowing that if they tacked right in front of us they may not make it. They decided to continue on to do a conservative approach to the lay line, and we just got our bow through them and were able to squeeze them up and hurt them, forcing them to sail right.”

 

St Barths Bucket Fleet at dock (Photo by Tim Wright / www.photoaction.com )

St Barths Bucket Fleet at dock (Photo by Tim Wright / www.photoaction.com )

In addition to the ORCsy rule being used here for the first time, the 2015 Bucket Regatta this year featured new stewards in ownership: Perini Navi, Royal Huisman, Vitters Shipyard and Rybovich.

St Barths Bucket 2015 Photo Galleries 

 

2015 St Barths Bucket Regatta
Series Results 22 March 2015 1930
Results for class A – Les Gazelles des Mers
Yacht Name Series Place Race 1 Race 2 Race 3 Total Points
VISIONE 1 2 1 1 4
INOUI 2 4 3 2 9
P2 3 3 2 6 11
WINWIN 4 1 8 DSQ 3 12
GHOST 5 5 4 4 13
RAINBOW 6 6 5 7 18
BETTER PLACE 7 8 (RET) 6 5 19
Results for class B – Elegantes des Mers
Yacht Name Series Place Race 1 Race 2 Race 3 Total Points
ADELA 1 3 1 2.5 6.5
ELFJE 1 2 2 2.5 6.5
MARIE 3 1 3 6 10
GANESHA 4 4 5 1 10
REBECCA 5 6 4 4 14
LADY B 6 5 6 5 16
BELLA RAGAZZA 7 7 7 8 22
KOO 8 8 8 7 23
Results for class C – Les Mademoiselles des Mers
Yacht Name Series Place Race 1 Race 2 Race 3 Total Points
CAPE ARROW 1 2 2 2 6
BEQUIA 2 1 1 6 8
FREYA 3 4 4 1 9
DRUMFIRE 4 5 3 5 13
LUSH 5 6 5 4 15
MOONBIRD 6 3 7 8 18
WINDFALL 7 10 6 3 19
VARSOVIE 8 7 12 7 26
ALTAIR 9 8 9 9 26
WAVELENGTH 10 9 8 10 27
SUNLEIGH 11 11 10 11 32
Results for class D – Les Grand Dames des Mers
Yacht Name Series Place Race 1 Race 2 Race 3 Total Points
AXIA 1 3 1 1 5
ROSEHEARTY 2 1 2 2 5
ZENJI 3 2 3 5 10
METEOR 4 5 5 6 16
ELENA OF LONDON 5 4 10 3 17
STATE OF GRACE 6 9 7 4 20
PARSIFAL III 7 6 8 7 21
SEAHAWK 8 8 4 10 (DNF) 22
THALIA 9 10 (SCP) 6 8 24

 

St. Barth's Bucket  Fleet Day One ( Photo © Claire Matches  www.clairematches.com )

St. Barth’s Bucket Fleet Day One ( Photo © Claire Matches www.clairematches.com )

St Barths, FWI – Fort Oscar, directly across the harbor from the Capitainerie headquarters for the Bucket, provided the perfect perch for watching the start of the first of three races planned over the next three days here in St. Barths. And by the crowd that turned out there, it was clear that the word had spread about the spectacle 35 superyachts would create on the water as they started their opening-day counter-clockwise circumnavigation of the island. In medium winds and flat seas, Gazelles and Elegantes (Class A and Class B, respectively) took to the long course of 25.2 nautical miles, while the Mademoiselles and Grandes Dames made the medium course of 20.9 nautical miles their pleasure.

With four classes there could be only four winners, and today those were the 33-metre sloop Win Win, the 54.6 Vitters ketch Marie, the 27.7-metre Bequia and the 55.9 metre Perini Navi Rosehearty.

Marie, which won her class and the coveted overall “Bucket” title last year, edged out long-time rival, the 44.6-metre Adela, in Gazelles by a minute and a half, even though Adela started 11 minutes ahead in the pursuit-style start.

“We were closing on her quite quickly on the penultimate leg when we were both running with our chutes toward the last bottom mark,” said Peter Wilson, one of Marie’s sail trimmers, “but it wasn’t until the last beat and 10 minutes before the finish that we actually got by her. We were both trying to lay the finish, and we had to get past them, so we put our bow down and tried to sail through them. We were abeam of them for quite a while.” Wilson explained that a left-hand shift helped Marie finally take the day. “We were clear ahead at that point, but it all depended on whether we had to tack to the finish or not. Had things gone a slightly different way, Adela could have beaten us, so the boats are well-matched and well-rated. ”

Rosehearty, winner in the nine-boat Grand Dames class, beat out Zenji by about 13 minutes. Her tactician Paul Cayard said key to the crew’s success was practice, making no mistakes, and pushing the boat to its full potential.

“One of the biggest tricks with this boat is maneuverability,”said Cayard, who made his name in the Star class and as a skipper of America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race boats. “Maneuvering takes 10 times longer, so the key is to plan 12 minutes ahead. Having everyone know their roles and executing well is important.”

Though 15 seconds late on the start, Rosehearty tacked early at the first mark, which was critical to the entire race. “We were spot-on, which set us on a confident course.”

Class runner-up Zenji had started four minutes prior, and crew man Mike Toppa said it was when Rosehearty “cut the corner on us on the first beat” that they were first passed. “We caught up with them, got bow-to-bow, but they put their spinnaker up quicker,” he said. “They deserve to win.”

As for the first try here using the ORCsy rule, Toppa said, “I love it. We saw last week at Loro Piana that it was really accurate, and the test was the bigger boats and ketches – boats with more than one mast…how was it going to go? It was a really good starting point, much better than it has ever been before. Everyone’s positive and happy about it.”

Tom Whidden, another America’s Cup veteran with 12 or more Bucket regattas under his belt, agreed. (He is serving as tactician on the 37.2-metre Vitters sloop Ghost, which finished fifth today among the Gazelles.)

“If you didn’t like today, you don’t like sailing,” he said, describing conditions as “typical of St. Barths, with easterly trade winds ranging from 13-16 knots. “Change is always good, and owners are enthusiastic to see if there is a more equitable system than what we’ve been using. These boats are very difficult to handicap properly, and there are a lot of good, smart people who are trying to do that. As long as we have people who care about this involved (with the rule), we’ll do well. Afterall, you can’t find a more fantastic place to sail or more beautiful big boats in the world, so if we can find a way to make the racing better, more people will do it and everybody benefits.”

“Our goal was to keep this the way it always has been: an event by the industry for owners,” said Bruce Brakenhoff of Perini Navi, which joined Royal Huisman, Vitters Shipyard and Rybovich as joint stewards of the Bucket Regattas (a summer edition is held in Newport, R.I.) when the former owners were ready to pass the torch .Sponsors of the St Barths Bucket Regatta are Alloy Yachts and Holland Jachtbouw. Supporting sponsors are Affinity Management Services, Burgess, Camper & Nicholsons, Doehle Yachts, Doyle Sailmakers, Dubois NA, Dykstra NA, Future Fibres, MTN, Newport Shipyard, North Sails, Pantaenius, Pendennis, Skuld Yacht, the Superyacht Report, Tradewind Aviation, US Trust, Willis, ZIS Insurance.

For more information and entries and results, visit bucketregattas.com/stbarths/.

For a second year, TracTrac’s live race tracking will enhance the Bucket experience for friends, families and Bucket fans. Access it at bucketregattas.com/stbarths/results.html

Barby MacGowan  Media Pro International’s Barby MacGowan is reporting daily from St. Barths. Read her 2015 St Barths Bucket recaps and her Bucket Blog. bucketregattas.com/stbarths/.

height=”14″>Results for class A – Les Gazelles des Mers
Yacht Name Series Place Race 1 Race 2 Race 3 Total Points
VISIONE 1 2 1 3
P2 2 3 2 5
INOUI 3 4 3 7
WINWIN 4 1 8 DSQ 9
GHOST 5 5 4 9
RAINBOW 6 6 5 11
BETTER PLACE 7 8 (RET) 6 14
Results for class B – Elegantes des Mers Revised March 21 1800 hrs*
Yacht Name Series Place Race 1 Race 2 Race 3 Total Points
ADELA 1 3 1 4
MARIE 2 1 3 4
ELFJE 3 2 2 4
GANESHA 4 4 5 9
REBECCA 5 6 4 10
LADY B 6 5 6 11
BELLA RAGAZZA 7 7 7 14
KOO 8 8 8 16
*Certificate corrections to Marie and Adela
Results for class C – Les Mademoiselles des Mers
Yacht Name Series Place Race 1 Race 2 Race 3 Total Points
BEQUIA 1 1 1 2
CAPE ARROW 2 2 2 4
DRUMFIRE 3 5 3 8
MOONBIRD 4 3 7 10
FREYA 5 4 4 8
LUSH 6 6 5 11
WINDFALL 7 10 6 16
WAVELENGTH 8 9 8 17
ALTAIR 9 8 9 17
VARSOVIE 10 7 12 19
SUNLEIGH 11 11 10 21
Results for class D – Les Grand Dames des Mers
Yacht Name Series Place Race 1 Race 2 Race 3 Total Points
ROSEHEARTY 1 1 2 3
AXIA 2 3 1 4
ZENJI 3 2 3 5
METEOR 4 5 5 10
SEAHAWK 5 8 4 12
ELENA OF LONDON 6 4 10 14
PARSIFAL III 7 6 8 14
THALIA 8 10 (SCP) 6 16
STATE OF GRACE 9 9 7 16

Provisional Results – Race # 2 OPTION A

Class A – Les Gazelles des Mers 21/03/2015
Course: Not So Wiggley. Course Length: 25,20 nm ORCsy: Medium Wind
Flat Sea
Pos Yacht Name Finish Time ToD Start Time Points
1 VISIONE 14:41:40 281.4 12:18:00 1,00
2 P2 14:42:10 333.0 11:57:00 2,00
3 INOUI 14:42:50 324.7 12:00:00 3,00
4 GHOST 14:47:36 321.5 12:01:30 4,00
5 RAINBOW 14:50:07 353.2 11:48:00 5,00
6 BETTER PLACE 14:50:49 316.6 12:03:30 6,00
WINWIN DSQ 313.9 12:04:30 8,00

Class B – Les Elegantes des Mers 21/03/2015
Course: Not So Wiggley. Course Length: 25,20 nm ORCsy: Medium Wind
Flat Sea
Pos Yacht Name Finish Time ToD Start Time Points
1 ADELA 14:36:10 394.0 11:21:00 1,00
2 ELFJE 14:36:20 331.5 11:47:00 2,00
3 MARIE 14:37:07 373.2 11:29:30 3,00
4 REBECCA 14:38:37 344.7 11:41:30 4,00
5 GANESHA 14:44:48 327.8 11:48:30 5,00
6 LADY B 14:47:48 331.0 11:47:30 6,00
7 BELLA RAGAZZA 15:00:25 404.5 11:16:30 7,00
8 KOO 15:22:36 424.7 11:08:00 8,00

Class C – Les Mademoiselles des Mers 21/03/2015
Course: Not So Wiggley. Course Length: 20,00 nm ORCsy: Medium Wind
Flat Sea
Pos Yacht Name Finish Time ToD Start Time Points
1 BEQUIA 14:10:04 463.2 11:22:00 1,00
2 CAPE ARROW 14:14:04 363.3 11:55:30 2,00
3 DRUMFIRE 14:15:40 454.1 11:25:00 3,00
4 FREYA 14:17:33 363.3 11:56:00 4,00
5 LUSH 14:21:03 409.5 11:40:00 5,00
6 WINDFALL 14:21:10 345.4 12:01:00 6,00
7 MOONBIRD 14:29:29 381.6 11:49:00 7,00
8 WAVELENGTH 14:30:53 470.4 11:19:30 8,00
9 ALTAIR 14:53:31 508.5 11:07:00 9,00
10 SUNLEIGH 14:58:10 397.4 11:44:00 10,00
VARSOVIE DNF 362.6 11:56:30 12,00

Class D – Les Grand Dames des Mers 21/03/2015
Course: Not So Wiggley. Course Length: 20,00 nm ORCsy: Medium Wind
Flat Sea
Pos Yacht Name Finish Time ToD Start Time Points
1 AXIA 14:04:07 418.9 11:26:30 1,00
2 ROSEHEARTY 14:09:17 473.9 11:09:00 2,00
3 ZENJI 14:12:08 483.7 11:05:00 3,00
4 SEAHAWK 14:18:41 443.0 11:18:30 4,00
5 METEOR 14:26:41 464.3 11:11:30 5,00
6 THALIA 14:32:39 463.1 11:12:00 6,00
7 STATE OF GRACE 14:34:19 412.5 11:29:00 7,00
8 PARSIFAL III 14:50:01 474.0 11:08:30 8,00
ELENA OF LONDON DNF 418.8 11:27:00 10,00


Provisional Results – Race # 1 – updated 21 Mar

Class A – Les Gazelles des Mers 20/03/2015
Course: Around the Island. Course Length: 25,20 nm ORCsy: Medium Wind
Flat Sea
Pos Yacht Name Finish Time ToD Start Time Points
1 WINWIN 14:26:38 313.9 12:11:30 1,00
2 VISIONE 14:27:22 281.4 12:25:00 2,00
3 P2 14:28:20 333.0 12:03:30 3,00
4 INOUI 14:29:14 324.7 12:07:00 4,00
5 GHOST 14:32:23 321.5 12:08:30 5,00
6 RAINBOW 14:33:03 353.2 11:55:00 6,00
BETTER PLACE 316.6 12:10:30 8,00 (RET)

Class B – Les Elegantes des Mers 20/03/2015
Course: Around the Island. Course Length: 25,20 nm ORCsy: Medium Wind
Flat Sea
Pos Yacht Name Finish Time ToD Start Time Points
1 MARIE 14:18:37 366.7 11:39:40 1,00
2 ELFJE 14:19:09 331.5 11:54:00 2,00
3 ADELA 14:19:23 394.0 11:28:30 3,00
4 GANESHA 14:21:18 327.8 11:55:30 4,00
5 LADY B 14:21:34 331.0 11:54:30 5,00
6 REBECCA 14:25:29 344.7 11:48:30 6,00
7 BELLA RAGAZZA 14:31:39 404.5 11:23:30 7,00
8 KOO 14:42:58 424.7 11:15:00 8,00

Class C – Les Mademoiselles des Mers 20/03/2015
Course: Around the Island. Course Length: 20,90 nm ORCsy: Medium Wind
Flat Sea
Pos Yacht Name Finish Time ToD Start Time Points
1 BEQUIA 14:08:32 463.2 11:22:00 1,00
2 CAPE ARROW 14:13:49 363.3 11:57:00 2,00
3 MOONBIRD 14:16:02 381.6 11:50:30 3,00
4 FREYA 14:16:14 363.3 11:57:30 4,00
5 DRUMFIRE 14:17:59 454.1 11:25:00 5,00
6 LUSH 14:19:25 409.5 11:41:00 6,00
7 VARSOVIE 14:22:15 362.6 11:58:00 7,00
8 ALTAIR 14:22:40 508.5 11:06:00 8,00
9 WAVELENGTH 14:26:17 470.4 11:19:30 9,00
10 WINDFALL 14:30:53 345.4 12:03:00 10,00
11 SUNLEIGH 14:58:52 397.4 11:45:00 11,00

Class D – Les Grand Dames des Mers 20/03/2015
Course: Around the Island. Course Length: 20,90 nm ORCsy: Medium Wind
Flat Sea
Pos Yacht Name Finish Time ToD Start Time Points
1 ROSEHEARTY 13:52:23 473.9 11:09:00 1,00
2 ZENJI 14:03:13 483.7 11:05:00 2,00
3 AXIA 14:04:28 418.9 11:27:30 3,00
4 ELENA OF LONDON 14:05:16 418.8 11:28:00 4,00
5 METEOR 14:10:54 464.3 11:11:30 5,00
6 PARSIFAL III 14:12:13 474.0 11:08:30 6,00
7 SEAHAWK 14:20:01 443.0 11:19:00 8,00
8 STATE OF GRACE 14:29:55 381.9 11:40:30 9,00
9 THALIA 14:12:14 463.1 11:12:00 10,00 (SCP)

 

Panerai-©JamesMitchell

Panerai-©JamesMitchell

 

Despite the physically demanding first few days of race the crews of the Panerai Transat Classique 2015 are continuing to push their “old ladies” as hard as they can. With such a marked contrast in the strategies chosen by the competitors, we can expect changes in the trade winds occurring in the next few days to upset the established order.

A record! Clocking up 273 nautical miles in twenty-four hours (an average of 11.4 knots), Altair has broken her previous best of 260 miles in one day. Not only that, the big schooner has covered 1,000 nautical miles in the first four days of the race (an average of 10.4 knots), thus achieving the goal Captain Stephane Benfield set for his antique vessel in the days leading up to the Panerai Transat Classiqe 2015. Surely William Fife III, the genius Scottish yacht designer, would be delighted to discover that one of his creations has performed so well eighty-four years after her launch. And positively proud after learning that another of his designs, Adventuress, the doyenne of the fleet dating from 1924, is currently leading the pack with a few minutes’ advantage over Altair. Prior to the race, pundits expected a duel between the “dragons” (nickname derived from the motifs carved into the bows of every Fife) and they haven’t been disappointed.

“We won’t give an inch”

Faced with such juggernauts, the other yachts in the race will have to redouble their efforts if they want to be in with a chance of a place on the podium… and that’s exactly what they are doing. The symbolic threshold of 200 miles per day has been exceeded by more than half the fleet, averaging eight knots, sometimes nine, day after day. And to those who thought the crews wouldn’t dare push their “old ladies” to the limit, just take a look at the figures and you’ll be convinced otherwise. Vagabundo II and Desiderata are hanging in there and their perseverance is paying off with a respectable 5th and 7th place in corrected time respectively, and with only a few hours behind the leaders. Argyll, the Stephens design from 1948, has swiped 3rd place from Gweneven with a lead of twenty small minutes, and the elegant Mylne plan from 1930, The Blue Peter, is consistently logging 200 nautical miles per day.

Messages received from the boats attest to the single-minded determination of every watch to push its sailing thoroughbred harder than the next. For example, here’s what Oren Nataf aboard Gweneven, the smallest vessel in the fleet, had to write earlier in the day: “We’ve been sailing side by side with Corto since sun up. She’s slightly faster than us but we’re a determined bunch and won’t give an inch. They’ve just put their big kite back in the locker whereas we’re still flying ours in twenty-six knots of wind. Lucas, Gildas and Clément have been at the helm and took advantage of the darkness to gain a few miles. We’re in the heat of the battle and overtook Desiderata yesterday, calling her up on the VHF as we passed. This isn’t a cruise and Gildas [Ed: sailed in several Figaros, winning some legs] has been baring his teeth…

Corto flashed at 16.6 knots!

They’re just as motivated aboard Faïaoahé, even if they ease off the throttle at night: “We start the night with three reefs in our mainsail and the yankee. Sky’s looking black, wind steady at 25 knots, gusting 30-35 in the squalls. The forecast thinks there might be 40 knots tonight. So we’re being careful. And even with this sail plan we’re clocking up 8 to 10 knots with ease. We’re seeing less of the moon as the days pass. It’s a shame, because the recent moonlit nights were splendid.” Keeping more or less shtum since the start, Corto’s crew has been knuckling down to the job of racing. Bruno Jourdren, Sonar world champion in 2013 and 2014, silver medallist in the Beijing Paralympics and winner of the 1998 Transat Ag2r, is optimistic but remains lucid: “All’s well out here after three days of very lively conditions, as you might have guessed. We decided to take things easy in light of the forecast and the expected sea state. We’ve had a few setbacks but nothing serious. The boat is once again 100 % operational. We’re currently flying the kite in a wind varying between 20 and 27 knots. Perfect conditions! She’s sliding along at 9 to 12 knots, sometimes faster. Corto’s record was beaten two days ago by Malik with a brief 16.6 knots. Everybody on board has found their feet. We are now in full racing mode! By the sounds of it we’re better off at sea at the moment. All the best, the crew of Corto.”

For Amazon the northern route continues to pay dividends and the big Stephens yawl is determined to catch up with Altair, sailing much further to the south, to claim back the lead in real time. With such hugely different routes, every change in the conditions has the potential to cause an upset on the race board. So far the big girls have been benefitting from the strong winds but the latest forecast suggests the trades might have a change of heart and cast a favourable gaze upon the smaller vessels in the race. So what are the trade winds going to do? If they ease off, expect the lighter yachts to play catch-up with their larger and heavier counterparts. This year’s Panerai Transat Classique is full of surprises and there will be more to come. Count on it!

Panerai-©JamesMitchell

Panerai-©JamesMitchell

Rk Boat Position Depuis 4 heures Depuis 24 heures DTF
Heure UT Position Cap Vites VMG Cap Vitesse VMG Distane
1 Altair Goélette aurique / gaff schooner 1931 • 40.78m • bois / wood 18:40 UTC-20mi 22°04.89’N34°08.28’W 264 10.9 10.9 270 11.2 10.9 266.75 1611.3 nm0.0 nm
2 Amazon Yawl 1971 • 22.25m • Acier / steel 17:54 UTC-66mi 25°24.64’N33°00.85’W 258 8.8 8.8 258 8.7 8.7 208.93 1722.6 nm111.3 nm
3 Adventuress goélette aurique / gaff schooner 1924 • 31.10m • Bois / wood 18:18 UTC-42 23°33.49’N32°22.08’W 261 9.6 9.6 265 9.5 9.4 226.04 1726.7 nm115.4 nm
4 Faiaoahe Sloop 2006 • 20.14m • Aluminium 19:00 UTC 26°35.10’N32°21.14’W 265 8.2 8.0 261 8.2 8.1 197.69 1778.6 nm167.3 nm
5 Argyll Yawl 1948 • 17.50 • Bois / Wood 18:35 UTC-25min 23°27.22’N30°51.29’W 255 9.0 9.0 258 8.5 8.5 203.45 1806.5 nm195.2 nm
6 The Blue Peter Cotre bermudien / Bermuda cutter 1930 • 19.65m • Bois / Wood 19:04 UTC4min 22°13.80’N30°28.31’W 263 9.0 9.0 262 8.8 8.8 211.73 1813.1 nm201.8 nm
7 Corto Sloop bermudien / Bermuda sloop 1970 • 13.00m • GRP 18:57 UTC-3min 22°59.13’N30°02.16’W 254 8.7 8.7 252 8.2 8.1 195.87 1845.1 nm233.7 nm
8 Gweneven Sloop 1975 • 11.60m • Polyester 19:00 UTC 22°58.07’N30°00.73’W 252 8.1 8.1 252 8.3 8.2 198.05 1846.2 nm234.8 nm
9 Vagabundo II ketch bermudien / Bermuda ketch 1945 • 13.50m • Bois / Wood 17:51 UTC-69min 25°03.33’N29°52.69’W 256 7.4 7.4 259 7.7 7.7 184.33 1880.6 nm269.3 nm
10 Desiderata Ketch 1975 • 20.12m 17:53 UTC-67min 23°07.19’N29°14.06’W 250 7.2 7.1 251 7.6 7.5 180.63 1890.1 nm278.8 nm
Panerai-©JamesMitchell

Panerai-©JamesMitchell

Panerai-©JamesMitchell

Panerai-©JamesMitchell

Panerai-©JamesMitchell

Panerai-©JamesMitchell

Panerai-©JamesMitchell

Panerai-©JamesMitchell