(Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo )

(Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo )

Phuket King's Cup races 1 & 2 (Photo © Max Ranchi  -  www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King’s Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi – www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King’s Cup races photos © Max Ranchi – www.maxranchi.com

article by Guy Nowell

We should all remind ourselves occasionally that Race Officers cannot control the wind. That is the prerogative of an even higher authority. The first three days of the 2014 Phuket King’s Cup have involved a great deal of waiting around in the sort of hot sunshine that some people pay good money for, but the lack of wind has been frustrating. This morning’s start was therefore a very welcome change, with 10-12 knots of cooling easterly to send all boats off from the two course areas and away on a trip around the islands. ‘And please remember that everyone – all divisions – should be listening on 77 once they have started.’

Courses involved varying distances along the ‘Koh Kaeo Noi – Koh Hi – Koh Aeo – Safe Water Mark’ sequence that will be familiar to anyone who has sailed in a King’s Cup. All the way to the SWM and back again (28nm) for IRC 0, and a brief excursion round Koh Bon and Koh Hi (14nm) for the Classics and Modern Classics. The breeze held good all the way up the inside of the islands, and the big bad fast boats were round the Safe Water Mark inside 1hr 45m, and hoisted spinnakers for the rush down the outside of the course and back to the finish. Little by little the wind eased – those who sailed fastest got home quickest (so to speak) and the rich got richer. Jelik was through the finish line, showered, and ready for entertainment after less than three hours racing.

As the wind softened through midday and the early afternoon, some boats failed to make the finish cut-off. That’s what gates are for, and so times were taken back to whichever gate had recorded all boats in any given class. Some confusion was occasioned by boats retiring but failing to inform the Race Officer, but a process of patient deduction by the scoring department sorted it all out in the end.

Notable performances out on the racetrack came from HiFi and Beau Geste in IRC 0, with the latter taking honours by a scant 43 sec on corrected time. Beau Geste leads the division by two points from HiFi after six races, but there are two days of racing to come and the fat lady has not even started her vocal exercises. Nick Burns’ EFG Bank Mandrake got on the pace today to take a win in IRC 1, pushing Island Fling down to second place by a substantial 8 mins, and Hannes Waimer scored yet another bullet at the top of IRC 2 to make it five from six races. Activity in IRC 3 is no less feisty, with Foreign Affair chalking up another win to keep themselves at the top of the leaderboard by a single point over Madame Butterfly.

The cat in the adage says that as long as the last day of a regatta has wind, everything else will be forgotten. Today’s breeze was good for most, and the forecast is for more of the same tomorrow:– one more day like that, and the slow start to the week will be happily lost in the haze of memory.

Full Results at www.kingscup.com

Result thru Day 4

Short Results (drops applied to classes that have completed more than 5 races):

IRC 0
1. Beau Geste (6)
2. HiFi (8)
3. Oi! (16)
IRC 1
1. Island Fling (6)
2. EFG Bank Mandrake (12)
3. Uranus (13)
IRC 2
1. TBG Team Premier (5)
2. Foxy Lady VI (11)
3. Windsikher (14)
IRC 3
1. Foreign Affair (6)
2. Madame Butterfly (8)
3. Tuay Lek (22.5)
Premier Cruising
1. Pine Pacific (6)
2. Starlight (8)
3. Zuhrah (13)
Bareboat Charter A
1. Uhuru (7)
2. Papaya (11)
3. Isabella (12)
Bareboat Charter B
1. Alexa (9)
2. Sarawadee (13)
3. Shiraz (16)
OpenCharter
1. Kata Rocks 3 (5)
2. Sailplane (7)
3. Sita (12)
Cruising
1. Lady Bubbly (9)
2. Skyelark (11)
3. H-Trip (13)
Modern Classic
1. Windstar (7)
2. Remington (10)
3. Farrgo Express (11)
Classic
1. Ravensong. (Atlanta having declined further racing, there is only one boat in this class).
Multihull Cruising
1. Minnie (5)
2. Star Fruit (7)
Multihull Racing
1. Hurricane (4)
2. Java (8)
3. 3 Itch (13)

Phuket King's Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi - www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King’s Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi – www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King's Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi - www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King’s Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi – www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King's Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi - www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King’s Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi – www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King's Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi - www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King’s Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi – www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King's Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi - www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King’s Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi – www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King's Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi - www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King’s Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi – www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King's Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi - www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King’s Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi – www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King's Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi - www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King’s Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi – www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King's Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi - www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King’s Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi – www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King's Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi - www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King’s Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi – www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King's Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi - www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King’s Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi – www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King's Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi - www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King’s Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi – www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King's Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi - www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King’s Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi – www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King's Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi - www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King’s Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi – www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King's Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi - www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King’s Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi – www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King's Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi - www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King’s Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi – www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King's Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi - www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King’s Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi – www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King's Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi - www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King’s Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi – www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King's Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi - www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King’s Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi – www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King's Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi - www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King’s Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi – www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King's Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi - www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King’s Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi – www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King's Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi - www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King’s Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi – www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King's Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi - www.maxranchi.com )

Phuket King’s Cup races (Photo © Max Ranchi – www.maxranchi.com )

LINE HONOURS WINNER WILD OATS XI  Crew on the rail (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

LINE HONOURS WINNER WILD OATS XI Crew on the rail (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

ONE MORE TIME
While not the record-setting pace, Wild Oats XI still made her indelible mark in the record books, taking the line honours win at the 2013 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. Close reaching up the Derwent River, the 100-footer crossed the finish line off Battery Point in Hobart, at 7:07pm local time (AEDT). Wild Oats’ elapsed time of 2 days, 6 hours, 7 minutes, 27 seconds gave sWild Oats XIkipper Mark Richards and crew their seventh line honours win, which ties the record held by the yacht Morna/Kurrewa IV.

Thousands of spectators lined the shore and docks of Constitution Dock and neighboring piers on a beautiful summer’s evening to cheer Wild Oats XI as their crew tied up to the dock. Stepping ashore, a tired looking Mark Richards said, “It was all hard…a lot of testing conditions, a lot of light air and mentally very draining. We had a bit of everything that was the great thing about it.

BOB OATLEY, OWNER OF WILD OATS XI AND SKIPPER MARK RICHARDS RECEIVE THE ROLEX YACHTMASTER TIMEPIECE

BOB OATLEY, OWNER OF WILD OATS XI AND SKIPPER MARK RICHARDS RECEIVE THE ROLEX YACHTMASTER TIMEPIECE Photo By: Rolex / Carlo Borlengh

Greatest thrill of my
life…seven!
Bob Oatley – Wild Oats XI owner

“This is one of the best wins you could probably have. There’s a lot of new competition and a lot of anxiety, no one hadany idea how we were going to go against each other. To sail away from these guys throughout the race was pretty amazing.” Wild Oats XI owner, Australian winemaker Bob Oatley, joined Richards ashore and exclaimed, “Greatest thrill of my life…seven!”

Following was a dockside presentation where skipper Mark Richards and owner Bob Oatley were presented with the JJ Illingworth Trophy and a Rolex timepiece as the first yacht to finish.

WILD OATS XI, Sail No: 10001, Bow No: XI, Owner: Robert Oatley, Skipper: Mark Richards, Design: Reichel Pugh 30 Mtr, LOA (m): 30.5, State: NSW off Tasman Island

WILD OATS XI, Sail No: 10001, Bow No: XI, Owner: Robert Oatley, Skipper: Mark Richards, Design: Reichel Pugh 30 Mtr, LOA (m): 30.5, State: NSW off Tasman Island

The Reichel/Pugh-designed boat, built in 2005, showed itself as still competitive in this year’s race, up against the toughest fleet ever assembled – which included 100-footers Perpetual Loyal and Ragamuffin 100, Volvo 70s Giacomo and Black Jack, and the newly launched 80-footer, Beau Geste. Richards said “To see a nearly nine-year old boat like this perform against the greatest and latest ocean racing boats in the world is pretty impressive.”

Ian Burns, Wild Oats’ strategist recalled a key part of the race, “The first night proved to be a huge parking lot for us and a lot of boats cleverly maneuvered through that, and really gave us quite a hard time to catch up. Luckily we had quite light conditions, which I don’t think suits them (Perpetual Loyal) anywhere near as well as us. We were able to chip away slowly, you know a 1/10th of a mile at a time.  Just after we got past them we came into a really light zone of wind and we managed to keep going – and they got parked up in the same zone and lost a huge amount of distance there.

“It started off (first day) if you were in front, you sort of lost to the guys behind you; but the second half of the race, once you got in front you got richer and richer, the wind got stronger, and more shift to you. We were able to leverage that pretty heavily and make some steady gains right through the whole race right down to Tasman.”

Perpetual LOYAL (Photo by Rolex /  Daniel Forster)

Perpetual LOYAL (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

Anthony Bell’s Perpetual Loyal was second across the finish line with a time of 2 days, 9 hours, 19 minutes, 56 seconds. Bell is familiar with the front of the fleet – the skipper took line honours in the 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race on his previous boat Investec Loyal. That boat, now in the hands of Syd Fischer as Ragamuffin 100, was on track to be third over the finish line, givingWild Oats and Loyal a run for their money.

Ragamuffin 100  ( Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

Ragamuffin 100 ( Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

When the bulk of the race fleet reached Bass Strait earlier today, the notorious body of water proved somewhat benign, with a 20 – 25 knot northeasterly providing perfect downwind sailing conditions. But the threat of the approaching low pressure that is forecast to bring a 30 – 40 knot southwesterly has the boats pushing to get as far south, as fast as possible.

Overnight tonight, a closely grouped pack of bigger boats are due to finish including Black Jack, Beau Geste, Giacomo, and Wild Thing.

The race for overall handicap winner is still up for play. With the changing weather conditions, competitor’s chances have been reshuffled. At 10pm local time AEDT, Bruce Taylor’s Caprice 40, Chutzpah was leading IRC overall on handicap.

Ninety boats are still racing – today Wilparina retired for unknown reasons, while Canute retired with rudder bearing problems.

 

Leg 4, Race 6, Day 1 During the Sydney Hobart 2013

Leg 4, Race 6, Day 1 During the Sydney Hobart 2013 (Photo courtesy Clipper Round the World Race)

With just four miles separating the top five Clipper Race teams as they pass the halfway mark, tensions are reaching summer boiling point. The race leader and fleet positions change frequently and podium positions are anything but predictable as Race 6 continues its thrilling progress.
In a dramatic morning’s racing, GREAT Britain (44th overall in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race)moved up four fleet positions to take over the Race 6 lead momentarily from Henri Lloyd (42ndoverall) who has just now regained its front spot.
Derry~Londonderry~Doire (45th overall) has made terrific gains this morning and whilst writing this report has now moved into third (50th overall) with Old Pulteney (51st overall) who had led the fleet for the previous 36 hours, now fourth.
Providing his take on the race so far, Deputy Race Director Mark Light said: “The fleet has left the sunshine shores of South East Australia and passed Cape Green, entering the notorious Bass Strait. This stretch of water can be ferocious, like a raging animal baring its teeth. At the moment it is more akin to a small kitten asleep in the sunshine, but the latest weather forecasts are showing things are going to change.
“Coming up to the approximately the halfway mark in this iconic race is where things will start to get very tactical as the yachts race to get across Bass Strait as quickly as possible to avoid the worst of the conditions and begin to negotiate the tricky East Tasmanian Coast while at the same time trying not to wake the weather animal asleep in the corner.
“The fleet is incredibly compact still so the next 36 hours are going to make for some very nail biting watching. Race Tracker viewers following at home will be glued to their screens I am sure.”
Clipper Race founder Sir Robin Knox-Johnston who is racing aboard Clipper 68, CV10 is keeping up with the Clipper 70s which he helped to design, currently sitting in 55th place overall in approximately the middle of the Clipper Race fleet.All positions reported as at the time of writing and are changing frequently. Check the Clipper Race tracker for the latest positions. It is updating every 10 minutes during this race.
To read all the skipper reports, CLICK HERE

To follow the Clipper Race 6 tracker, CLICK HERE

To follow the Clipper Race yachts in the overall Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race standings, CLICK HERE.

FROM SYDNEY, INTO THE FRAY

Rolex Sydney Hobart Start 2013 by Daniel Forster

Rolex Sydney Hobart Start 2013 (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

The low pressure system that brought rain to the Sydney area yesterday moved out to sea, providing picture perfect conditions today – a 15-18 knot southeasterly, sunshine and blue skies – for the 94-boat fleet starting the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.

Boxing Day spectators lined the Sydney shoreline, and pleasure boats, ferries and all manner of craft jockeyed for a place outside the harbour’s exclusion zone, to watch the 94-boat fleet, go off at the 1:00pm (AEDT) starter’s cannon. The size and speed of the top end of this year’s fleet required a change to three staggered start lines.

The bigger boats, on the forward-most line, set their giant code zero headsails and were quickly off on a starboard reach: while 100-footers Wild Oats XI and Perpetual Loyal were drag-racing in front, just behind were Beau Geste, Ragamuffin, and Wild Thing along with the Volvo 70s, Black Jack and Giacomo. The 80-foot Beau Geste, with the pedal down, rounded the turning mark second, behind Wild Oats XI.

Maxis at Sydney Hobart Start by Carlo Borlenghi

Maxis at Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2013 Start (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

The south-southeasterly breeze, combined with the spectator fleet wash, outside of the race exclusion zone, caused a washing machine-like chop, but that will pale with what is predicted for the fleet further down the 628-nautical mile race track.

The forecast is for lighter winds tonight and tomorrow, before a north-northeasterly fills in, providing ideal downwind conditions. For tacticians on the bigger, faster boats how they manage this transition will be key. For now they will endeavour to get as far south, as fast as they can.

Behind them, the smaller boats will be facing westerly gale-force winds predicted for late Saturday night (60 hours after the start) in Bass Strait and down to Tasman Island. Adding to these punishing conditions will be a westerly swell upwards of ten meters.

But the race more often than not, serves up tough conditions. Prior to the start, many of the skippers and crews, chalked up the forecast as fairly typical. Roger Hickman, skipper of Wild Rose, is a race veteran, having started in 35 races, and completed 33 of them.  Hickman said, “It is what it is. Tonight should be quiet, tomorrow quiet and then I believe we’re going to get a real pasting in Bass Strait, fresh to frightening, gale-force winds, but that’s the way it is.

The experience, the talent and the sea
miles that are in this race are astounding
Roger Hickman, skipper of Wild Rose

Hickman acknowledged that the boats and crew were up to the task, adding, “There’s a great fleet of boats here, but what’s more important is the crew. Every one of these magnificent boats is full of competitive, competent, solid yachtsmen. The experience, the talent and the sea miles that are in this race are astounding.”

Brendan Garner, on the Beneteau 45, Senna, will be racing for the first time as skipper, having done the race five races before. Garner said, “It’s going to be a complicated race; there’s going to be a lot of gear changes. We’ve done a fair bit of work with our sail systems and set-ups, so we’re quite comfortable with that. Overall we’re not too fussed with the forecast, we’re quite happy with it.”

A successful Etchells-class sailor, Garner commented on the change up from one-design to offshore and said, “You’re out there for a long time, you have to be mentally and physically prepared. It’s a race of endurance.”

Crowds at Sydney Hobaret 2013 (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Crowds at Sydney Hobaret 2013 (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

By late afternoon, many of the bigger boats had headed offshore looking for more favorable breeze; the front-runners were 15-25 nautical miles east of Kiama, making 15-16 knots of speed upwind.

Tracker

Current status of the race will be available on the online tracker at: http://rolexsydneyhobart.com/tracker/

EVENT PROGRAMME

From Saturday, 28 December

Arrival of the first boats in Hobart

Wednesday, 1 January
11:00 Final prize giving, Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania (RYCT)

Sydney Hobart Start by Daniel Forster

Sydney Hobart Start (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

Nordeutsche Vermoe at 2007 Fastnet Finish (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

The waiting is nearly over: the 44th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race, one of the great ocean challenges is just 2 weeks away. With a staggering 350 entrants at the ready, 1979’s record-breaking tally of 303 participating yachts will almost certainly be surpassed. The sheer size of the fleet is impressive. Its quality and diversity quite breathtaking. Inspiring and exhilarating in equal measure, there is every reason to believe that the 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race will maintain the event’s pioneering and prestigious tradition.

The numbers game
Due to the Rolex Fastnet’s unique allure, event organisers the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) never have any difficulty ensuring that there is a large and impressive fleet in attendance. This year is no exception. Entries came in thick and fast and were closed within ten days of opening in January. However, the requests kept arriving. After being inundated with additional enquiries from the Volvo Open 70s, the IMOCA 60s, Class 40s and Multihulls to join the 608-nautical mile marathon, the RORC adjusted the entry limit to allow these ‘professional’ classes to be counted above the initial cut-off mark.

The Rolex Fastnet Race commences from Cowes on Sunday 14 August (the first signal sounds at 10:50 BST). Whilst crews with the ambition of being the fastest to the finish will hope to spend only one or two nights at sea, spare a thought for those at the back of the pack, for whom a near week in often punishing conditions may be the order of the day.

Rambler 100 enjoying Leopard hunt
Short of a catastrophic breakdown, the fastest boat on the water at the 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race will be the 100-foot trimaran, Banque Populaire (FRA), which just broke the round the Britain Isles record by almost a day and a half. However, the battle for monohull line honours is the most anticipated clash and is expected to be the privilege of two other 100-ft challengers: Mike Slade’s ICAP Leopard (GBR), first elapsed-time finisher in the past two editions, and arch-rivals George David’s Rambler 100 (USA). The two crews know each other extremely well, given their series of tussles in recent months. A head-to-head battle in the Transatlantic Race, which saw Rambler 100 ease to line honours after ICAP Leopard lost her bowsprit, the freshest encounter.

“Having won the Rolex Fastnet Race twice, the big play is to win three in a row, which would be quite exceptional,” explains Slade, whose yacht also holds the course record of 1 day, 20 hours and 18 minutes [set in 2007]. “During the RORC Caribbean 600, Rambler 100 proved to be the faster boat in her ideal conditions. However, Rambler 100 may also need to protect herself in bad weather, more than ICAP Leopard. We feel we have a good chance in light and heavy airs, it is the bit in between that we might have a problem! I am really looking forward to the Fastnet, it should be a very exciting race but above all else, I don’t want to lose our record to Rambler 100, that would be heartbreaking and we will vigorously defend it.”

Rambler 100 is as keen to renew hostilities. “We’re anticipating sailing in Cowes Week from 9-11 August and hope ICAP Leopard and others will be competing as well,” explains David, “we’ve had three races together already, the Caribbean 600, the Annapolis to Newport and now the Transatlantic Race. Rambler 100 took line honours and corrected ahead of ICAP Leopard in all three.”

David is fervent about the upcoming Fastnet Race and describes his own personal highlights of the parcours: “Beating out through The Needles in a huge fleet, the beauty of the south coast of England, the approach to the [Fastnet] Rock, and the wind and weather conditions all over the place.”

Whilst these two ocean greyhounds are clear monohull line honours favourites, they may not have it all their own way. There is the significant presence of six Volvo 70s, including two of the latest breed: Abu Dhabi (UAE) and Groupama IV (FRA). Then there is the Mini Maxi class including defending Rolex Fastnet handicap winner, the 72-ft Rán (GBR), owned by Niklas Zennström, in addition to Andres Soriano’s Mills 68 Alegre (GBR), a fantastic campaigner in the Mediterranean in recent seasons. Throwing in the American challengers, the STP65 Vanquish, and the Reichel-Pugh 66 Zaraffa, who like ICAP Leopard and Rambler 100 competed in the Transatlantic Race, it promises to be a tight contest at the top of the fleet.

Tales from the foreign third
Of the record breaking 350 yachts competing at this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race, approximately a third are non-British crews. A scan of the 2011 entry list highlights the global pull of the event, with yachts competing from the following countries: Austria, Belgium, China, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, the UAE and the USA.

Karl Kwok, owner of the 80-ft Beau Geste (HKG), will be taking part in the event for the third time. “I am definitely here for the challenge as this is one of the most interesting and competitive offshore races in the world,” he explains. “My first time here was in 1995, followed by my second appearance in the last edition [in 2009]. We did well on that occasion, but it could be better still!” Kwok adores offshore racing: “For me the top three blue water offshore classics are the Fastnet, Sydney to Hobart and Newport to Bermuda – in that order. And Rolex has the top two!” Beau Geste will be another yacht snapping at the heels of the 100-footers and also arrive in Cowes fresh from competing in the Transatlantic Race.

One overseas crew in particular has reason to treasure its association with the Rolex Fastnet. Six years ago, Frenchman Jean Yves Chateau’s 33-ft Nicholson Iromiguy won the competition on corrected time, the first time in three decades that the overall prize had been won by a yacht under 40 feet. For the Saint Malo-based skipper, the victory was both a surprise and a fulfilment of an ambition: “To win the Rolex Fastnet Race was like a childhood dream, it is like an ‘Everest’ in my life and in the life of each member of my crew: absolutely fantastic, unbelievable, gorgeous, not to mention the incredible fact of having beaten all the big guys. It was also very important for me to be the third French sailor to win this race and to have my name engraved on this Cup close to Eric Tabarly [the legendary French skipper who won the race in 1967]!”

Regarding the ‘draw’ of the Rolex Fastnet, Chateau continues: “It is a mythical race. This year will be our seventh time and we are always very pleased and enthusiastic to participate with the crazy dream of winning it one more time.” Amongst the sizeable French contingent is the intriguing story of the IMOCA 60 DCNS 100 (FRA), sailed by skipper Marc Thiercelin and his famous apprentice, former downhill skier and endurance motorsport driver, Luc Alphand. DCNS 100 is one of seven IMOCA 60s, including Cheminées Poujoulat (SUI) launched in May this year.

John Towers is helming the J/122 Oojah (GBR) with a US-based crew joining British boat owner Peter Tanner, their navigator for the race. The English Channel is some distance from their usual racing haven of the east coast of the United States. “As a group of Americans, we consider the Rolex Fastnet Race to be a once in a lifetime adventure that is a natural compliment to our passion for distance racing,” explains Towers, “the Fastnet is a big deal for us and an adventure that we have been planning for the last two years.”

Tanner continues: “Our goal will be the same as any other race we enter. Priority one is a safe passage. Priority two is that the experience is very positive for all members of the crew. Our third priority is to be competitive.”           

Triple TP52 challenge
The three TP52s competing at the Rolex Fastnet Race will resume their engagement having been near inseparable at the recent Giraglia Rolex Cup. On that occasion, Franck Noël’s Near Miss (SUI) finished the 243-nautical mile race less than two minutes ahead of Johnny Vincent’s Pace (GBR). Bryon Ehrhart’s Lucky (USA) was only a further hour behind. On corrected time, only seven places separated the three crews, with Pace coming out on top. Over a considerably longer distance, this ‘race within a race’ will be one to follow come August.               

Back of the pack
The crew of the Contessa-32 Drumbeat (GBR) will likely have one opportunity to admire ICAP Leopard and Rambler 100 – during the passage out of the Solent. For co-skippers and brothers-in-law, Mark Himsworth and Pierre Walrafen, the race ahead will be one of endurance and, at times, solitude: “It feels amazing to be one of the smallest and slowest boats competing, tacking or gybing down the Solent against much larger and faster machines after the start. All the while competing on handicap directly against them,” explains Himsworth, who will be taking part in the Rolex Fastnet for a third time.

The reality soon becomes quite different, as Himsworth reveals: “After 24 hours, most of the competition is long gone. Thereafter it’s occasionally difficult to keep your mind away from the thought of the faster boats turning towards (or arriving at) Plymouth while ours plugs steadily westwards round Land’s End. It’s a pretty solitary undertaking when you’re on watch and your co-skipper’s sleeping and none of your competitors are visible, but that’s all part of the attraction, and there’s still plenty going on in Plymouth when we arrive!”            

Trophy hunt
The main trophy for overall victory in the Rolex Fastnet is the Fastnet Challenge Cup. In addition, there are more than 30 additional trophies that will be awarded at the prize giving on Friday, 19 August at the historic Royal Citadel, home of the 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, overlooking Plymouth Sound and Sutton Harbour, where the majority of the fleet will berth.

 Dock Preparations At Cowes at 2007 Fastnet (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi )

Maltese Falcon (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Maltese Falcon (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Having cheered on the first six yachts when they departed on the Transatlantic Race 2011 two days ago, the 14-strong group of yachts that will take the second of the three staggered starts now have less than 24 hours until they begin the race across the North Atlantic for themselves.  The warning signal at 13:50 Eastern Daylight Time on Wednesday, June 29, will cue the largest group of yachts to depart, including the show-stopping Maltese Falcon, and spectators are guaranteed to see a unique sailing spectacle when the cannon is fired at Castle Hill Light.

Without doubt, tomorrow’s start will feature the most diverse battle of the race.  The Open Class has just two yachts, but they are two of the showiest yachts in the race.  Maltese Falcon, at 289’, is the largest yacht competing and is up against the only multihull entered in the race, Phaedo, the Gunboat 66 owned by Lloyd Thornburg (St. Barthelemy).  The Lamborghini-orange catamaran and the futuristic Perini Navi will be a spectacular sight as they head off into the Atlantic.

In IRC Class Two, Jazz, a Cookson 50, has a star-studded crew including the highly experienced navigator, Mike Broughton (Hamble, U.K.), and skipper, Nigel King (Lymington, U.K.).  Unfortunately, due to family commitments, owner Chris Bull is unable to make the trip.  Two German teams on nearly identical yachts will also go head-to-head in the class:  Christoph Avenarius and Gorm Gondesen’s Shakti and Jens Kellinghusen’s Varuna should virtually match race across the North Atlantic.

IRC Class Three will feature six yachts, including Snow Lion, the Ker 50 owned by former NYYC Commodore Lawrence Huntington (New York, N.Y.).  Snow Lion is a proven winner, having won her class in the Newport Bermuda Race, and should be highly competitive on corrected time.  There are, however, some real fliers in this class, not the least of which is Zaraffa, the Reichel Pugh 65 owned by Huntington Sheldon (Shelburne, Vt.), whose crew includes several veterans of the last edition of the Volvo Ocean Race.  The Volvo 60 Ambersail, skippered by Simonas Steponavicius (Vilnius, Lithuania), is a much-travelled yacht having logged over 100,000 miles since being purchased in 2008 to celebrate a thousand years of Lithuanian history. After sailing around the world, Ambersail took part in the 2010 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, winning class honors and placing second overall.

The youth entry from Germany, Norddeutsche Vermoegen Hamburg, will be helmed by Eike Holst whose third Transatlantic Race will be his first as skipper.  And while the majority of the team aboard the Andrews 57 are university students in their 20s, two of the crew are just 18 years old.  Many of sailors in the race were introduced to the sport as a family activity, which means the parents of these sailors, in particular, have a degree of understanding and ease with the undertaking at hand.  That was not the case for Jerome Vigne, the Parisian-born mechanical engineering student who will have a very relieved mother welcoming him home to Germany.

Blending a comfortable interior with the performance of an Open 60 is Ourson Rapide, the Finot-Conq 60 owned by Paolo Roasenda (Vedano al Lambro, Italy).  This is a special boat that should have a dream-like ride downwind.  Scho-ka-kola, named for the German chocolate confection, is a Reichel Pugh 56 owned by Uwe Lebens (Hamburg) that has completed two previous Atlantic crossings.

Prodigy, a Simonis/Voog 54, is a proven winner.  Owner Chris Frost (Durban, South Africa) took line honors in the 2011 Heineken Cape to Rio Race and will compete in the Rolex Fastnet Race, as well as the Rolex Middle Sea Race, as part of a year-long campaign.  Of the 10 crew on Prodigy, two – including Aaron Gillespie (Butler, N.J.) and John Fryer (New York, N.Y.) – were recruited by Frost using the “Crew Finder” feature on the event’s website.  It will be Gillespie’s first Transatlantic crossing.

The two smallest yachts in start two are both Class 40s: Dragon and Concise 2, the latter skippered by Ned Collier-Wakefield (Oxford, U.K.).   Tony Lawson (Haslemere, Surrey, U.K.) assembled a crew of young aspiring sailors from Great Britain to make up Team Concise.  The team has become a force to be reckoned with having won the 2009 Class 40 World Championship, set a world record for the Round Britain and Ireland course and taken class honors at the RORC Caribbean 600 for the last three years.

Dragon is the only boat racing across the Atlantic double-handed. Owner Michael Hennessy (Mystic, Conn.) has been an avid sailor ever since introduced to the sport by his father at the age of four on San Francisco Bay.  Following college, Hennessy logged thousands of miles cruising along the New England coast before he started to focus on short-handed distance racing in 2002.  Since then he has competed in four Newport Bermuda Races, as well as dozens of other races across New England.  In 2008 he took notice of the fast growing Class 40 fleet and took delivery of his Owen Clarke-designed boat. In just two short years, Dragon has become a fixture on the ocean racing circuit.  Joining Hennessy will be co-skippered Rob Windsor (East Northport, N.Y.) who grew up sailing with his family on Long Island Sound.

Sponsors of the TR 2011 are Rolex, Thomson Reuters, Newport Shipyard, Perini Navi and Peters & May, with additional support by apparel sponsor Atlantis Weathergear.

For more information, visit http://www.transatlanticrace.org/.

Carina passes Castle Hill Lighthouse At Transatlantic Race Start ( Photo by Amory Ross / Transatlantic Race 2011 )

Carina passes Castle Hill Lighthouse At Transatlantic Race Start ( Photo by Amory Ross / Transatlantic Race 2011 )

The sunshine burnt off the morning fog almost on cue as the first start of the Transatlantic Race 2011 got underway with six of the smallest yachts in the fleet beginning their journey across the Atlantic.  A gentle breeze wafted in from the southeast to give the competitors some champagne sailing conditions, at least for the moment — all of the yachts competing in the TR2011 know there are bound to be difficult times ahead.
 
Skippered by Rives Potts, Jr. (Essex, Conn.), local favorite Carina, a 48’ sloop, got away to a great start, hugging the coast to escape a knot of foul current.  Onboard are four fathers and five sons, as well as the youngest crew member in the race, Dirk Johnson, Jr. (Middletown, R.I.).  At just 16 years of age Johnson has been sailing since he was a baby and has always wanted to sail across an ocean.  “I don’t like trimming so much as I find it hard to concentrate.  But I love my position as float.  I like to get involved everywhere on the boat.  I have been sailing short offshore races for a while and I really wanted to do this race,” he explained.  “I guess I will miss home comforts the most, especially my Mum’s lamb chops.  But all of my family are sailors and this is in my blood.”
The Army Sailing Association’s British Soldier currently leads the fleet on the water and her skipper, Lieutenant Colonel Nicholas Bate(Falmouth, Cornwall, U.K.), was relishing the challenges that lay ahead, as he commented just before the start.
“The first goal for us is to get around Nantucket Shoals and then we’ll head into the Atlantic proper.  I love the open ocean and the big rolling waves.  After a day or so the crew will settle into a routine.  For me, the most marvelous thing about this race is enjoying the fun and banter with the crew, you just cannot get that anywhere else.  There will be difficult times ahead, but we will battle through.  We know that we will get some pretty foul weather, but we know that it will improve.  The crew of British Soldier are not all highly experienced offshore sailors, but they are all good characters who can keep each other entertained when the going gets tough and I think that is priceless.”

British Soldier at Transatlantic Race Start ( Photo by Amory Ross / Transatlantic Race 2011 )

British Soldier at Transatlantic Race Start ( Photo by Amory Ross / Transatlantic Race 2011 )

With just four crew aboard, the German entry Sasha is going extremely well.  Owner Albrecht Peters and his wife Erika had a conservative start with their 42’ Olin Stephens design.  Eighty years ago another Stephens design, Dorade, won the Transatlantic Race that also started in Newport (finishing in Plymouth, England), and, if the right conditions prevail, Sasha could be extremely competitive after time correction.
Hans Albrecht’s beautiful 86’ yawl, Nordwind, is the oldest boat in the race. Built in 1939, Nordwind has been fully restored by her German owners and sailed 11,000 miles to take part in the Transatlantic Race 2011.
While the high performance yachts that are yet to depart will undoubtedly grab headlines, this group of yachts is worthy of equal praise and the starting area was full of spectator boats wishing them well.  The rocky outcrops and grassy hillsides along Fort Adams and Castle Hill were filled with people who cheered the boats on as they crossed the starting line at the Castle Hill Light.  Once they leave the shore, it will be several weeks before these yachts will see land again.
 
For more information, visit http://www.transatlanticrace.org/.
 
More about the Transatlantic Race 2011
The Transatlantic Race 2011 charts a 2,975 nautical mile course from Newport, R.I., to Lizard Point, South Cornwall, England.  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 26, June 29 and July 3 – will feature 30 boats ranging from 40 to 289 feet in length.  In addition to winners in seven classes (IRC Class 1 Racer, IRC Class 2 Racer, IRC Class 3 Racer/Cruiser, IRC Class 4 Racer/Cruiser, Classic, Class 40, and Open), whichever yacht finishes the course with the fastest elapsed time will set the benchmark for a new racing record from Newport to Lizard Point, to be ratified by the World Speed Sailing Council.  Rolex watches will be awarded to the record holder and the overall winner (on corrected time) under IRC.
The Transatlantic Race 2011 is also the centerpiece of the Atlantic Ocean Racing Series (AORS), which includes the Pineapple Cup – Montego Bay Race, RORC Caribbean 600, the Annapolis to Newport Race, Rolex Fastnet Race, Biscay Race and the Rolex Middle Sea Race.  Of the seven races in the AORS, three races, including the TR 2011 must be completed to qualify for a series victory.  Each race is weighted equally in overall series scoring with the exception of TR 2011, which is weighted 1.5 times.  All entered yachts are scored using their two best finishes in addition to the TR 2011.  Awards for the AORS will be presented in November, 2011, at the New York Yacht Club’s Annual Awards Dinner in Manhattan

You Can Track The Transatlantic Fleet HERE

Transatlantic Race Fleet at Start ( Photo by Amory Ross / Transatlantic Race 2011 )

Transatlantic Race Fleet at Start ( Photo by Amory Ross / Transatlantic Race 2011 )