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


A Race Day To Remember
1459 entries / 1323 finished  /  52 retirements  /  6 OCS  /  DSQ

Saturday 1st June was certainly a day to remember, a day of highs, and more highs and, it was a day for Round the Island Race records to tumble.  It was the day when Great Britain’s most successful Olympic sailor, Sir Ben Ainslie and his all-British crew aboard J.P. Morgan BAR, trounced the existing Round the Island Race multihull record, held for 12 years, by an impressive 16 minutes.

In the monohull fleet the biggest boat in the IRC classes, Mike Slade’s 100ft ICAP Leopard was not far behind. He crossed the finish line 40 minutes after Ainslie, shaving almost ten minutes off the monohull race record he had set back in 2008.

Title sponsor J.P. Morgan Asset Management, summed up their team’s thoughts on the day. Jasper Berens, Head of UK, J.P. Morgan Assert Management, commented: “It’s so fantastic to be here and to raise such superb amounts for the Race charity, the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust. It was a vintage year in terms of weather and the racing and it was incredible to see so many happy, smiling faces in Cowes. The fact that Ben and his team on J.P. Morgan BAR achieved the Round the Island race multihull record, just topped it off. We look forward to seeing everyone again next year.”

On behalf of the Island Sailing Club, Dave Atkinson, Race Safety Officer, had little cause for concern during his long day that started at 0245 and finished at 2350. He commented: “We had the least number of incidents to deal with for a very long time and nothing major occurred out on the water. The entire Race team, that numbers around 170 people on the day and ranged from spotters to results teams, cannot be praised highly enough.”

Today, Sunday 2nd June, wrapped everything up nicely with more great weather and the Race Prize giving which was held at the Island Sailing Club where the Commodore Rod Nicholls was joined on stage by Corrie McQueen from J.P. Morgan Asset Management and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston to hand out the gold and silverware to the deserving prizewinners.

The most coveted prize, the Gold Roman Bowl and JPMAM Salver for First Overall IRC went to 5 West, the TP52 owned and helmed by Sir Keith Mills and Robert Greenhalgh.
The Silver Roman Bowl and JPMAM Salver for Second Overall IRC went to Pace and Johnny Vincent. The Observer Trophy and JPMAM Trophy for First Monohull to finish went to Mike Slade and ICAP Leopard.

Next year, the Race is held on Saturday 21st June and the Island Sailing Club, the title sponsor J.P. Morgan Asset Management and the family of Race Partners all look forward to welcoming everyone back to Cowes.

Article by Peta Stuart-Hunt the race press officer

Photos courtesy of Barry James Wilson

Cilck on Image to Enlarge


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 )

Sojana (Photo by Christophe Jouany  / Les Voiles de Saint-Barth)

Sojana (Photo by Christophe Launay / Les Voiles de Saint-Barth)

An enthusiastic Ken Read (Newport, R.I.) got the 2011 sailing season off to a resounding start on board the new Maxi Yacht Rambler 100 in the Caribbean 600. The American skipper, who leads the Puma Ocean Racing project, has just won the event, leaving his rival Leopard 3 a long way behind and in so doing also grabbing the race record. Winner of last year’s inaugural running of the Les Voiles de St. Barth as skipper of George David’s (Hartford, Conn.) 90-footRambler, Read was naturally entrusted with the helm of Rambler 100 (the former Speedboat) when David took command of it earlier this year. Very excited by Rambler 100’s performance so far, Read is looking forward to the race program that lies ahead in the coming weeks. The second edition of the Les Voiles de St. Barth is next on the schedule (April 4-9), and with a mere mention of Read’s victory at the 2010 event, he admits without hesitation that he took advantage of “the best conditions ever experienced in my whole career….”

The prospect of once again facing their main rival Leopard 3 (owned by Great Britain’s Mike Slade) at Les Voiles de St. Barth–in closely fought contests on a variety of windy courses–is something that Read and David are extremely happy about. The Americans will bring along the whole of Read’s Puma Ocean Racing team, comprised of 15 top class professional sailors that will join seven other experienced crewmen to sail the powerful carbon Maxi Yacht.

“Don’t change a thing!,” said Read about the Les Voiles des St. Barth format, which features short daytime race courses that will have Rambler 100 and Leopard 3 facing off for the first time with that type of racing. “Rambler 100 and Leopard 3 are two huge monsters,” he said, explaining that both boats are entered in the Atlantic Ocean Racing Series, which reaches its climax in June with the 2011 Transatlantic Race from Newport, Rhode Island to The Lizard (UK). “They are record-breaking boats designed for long ocean races and major offshore courses; however, for our crew, it is vital to be able to compete in inshore races like those that will be held in St. Barth. Our battle against Leopard 3 will be very demanding for the crews and fascinating to watch, as we will be alongside each other for a lot of the time and it is bound to offer a maximum level of excitement.”

The Caribbean 600 represented an intermediate format for Ken Read and his crew, and it very quickly turned to the advantage of Rambler 100, which led the way from start to finish in what were typically Caribbean conditions, with strong trade winds windward of the islands and tricky currents, particularly at night. “Sailing along at 26 knots under the stars, we had some great moments aboard Rambler 100, a boat that offers a completely new dimension to racing,” concluded Read. Peter Harrison’s (Great Britain) 115-foot Farr-designed Sojana, which stood out in the Les Voiles de St. Barth last year and will be back again this year, also took part in the Caribbean 600 alongside Genuine Risk, the 90-foot Dubois design that has registered for the Les Voiles de St. Barth for the first time and may also thwart the favorites’ plans.

“In St. Barth, each day is different,” said Read. “The race committee has done an excellent job coming up with courses around the islands that are spectacular and at the same time very demanding from a tactical perspective, as they mean we have to sail at every point of sail. The Les Voiles de St. Barth is also physically very tiring, as the strong regular winds that sweep across the islands at this time of year allow us to get the most out of the boat, implying frequent sail changes with each change of tack. Technically, this is a really interesting event, which is a fantastic complement to the Atlantic Ocean Racing Series.”

Key information:

With one month to go until the start of racing, the Les Voiles de St. Barth has registered no fewer than 49 yachts, divided according to their size and class in the following five divisions:

SUPER / MAXI YACHT : A Maxi yacht refers to a prototype yacht or one that is produced in limited numbers measuring at least 69’ in length: 8 boats registered

CLASSIC: Classic Yachts or traditional boats are boats that are at least 35 years old and fit into various categories: 5 boats registered

RACING: This division brings together racing monohulls designed specifically for coastal or offshore races: 15 boats registered

RACING-CRUISING : The Racing Cruising division includes chiefly series boats, fitted out for cruising as well as for racing: 17 boats registered

RACING- MULTIHULLS: This division includes racing multihulls, be they trimarans or catamarans, with a length between 30 and 60 feet and which are very light and fast: 4 boats registered

The Les Voiles de St. Barth officially begins on Monday, April 4, 2011 with the traditional registration process and the opening of the Voiles Village, Quai du Général De Gaulle in Gustavia. At 1300 hrs (local time) the next day (Tuesday, April 5), the Race Directors, under the leadership of Luc Poupon, will signal the start of racing on some exciting and varied race courses set up according to the weather conditions. Racing continues Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, with Thursday, April 7 set aside as a lay day, with a full list of festive events lined up, allowing the crews to rest and enjoy themselves along with the people of St. Barths. The closing evening on Saturday, April 9 will include the prize-giving

Sojana and Moneypenny (Photo by Christophe Jouany  / Les Voiles de Saint-Barth)

Sojana and Moneypenny (Photo by Christophe Launay / Les Voiles de Saint-Barth)


 GBR 1R FARR 100′ MIKE SLADE Pre-entry
 GBR 115 FARR 115 Peter HARRISON /Marc FIDZGERALD Pre-entry
 US 53560 TRIPP DESIGN 75′ JIM GRUNDY Pre-entry
 888 SWAN 112 RS/GPR 112′ ALBERT KEULARTS Pre-entry
 FRA 8686 CNB 86 86′ ROBIN DE JONG Pre-entry
   100′ GEORGE DAVID Pre-entry
   100′ GERARD NAIGEON Pre-entry
Yacht Name   Sail Design LOA Skipper Status
 FRA 96 POGO 40 S2 40′ REGIS GUILLEMOT Pre-entry
 750 OPEN 750 24′ JAN VANDEN EYNDE Pre-entry
 GBR 150 L BENETEAU F 50 50′ TONY MACBRIDE Pre-entry
  SANTA CRUZ 37 37′ J. Hin Pre-entry
 FRA 2114 X55 55 G;MARTIN Pre-entry
 FRA 25597 BENETEAU 31.7 32 SERGE MAZARIO Pre-entry
 FRA 27917 Farr 36,7 DEREDEC Christian Pre-entry
 SA 3625 CLASS 40 40′ LENJOHN VAN DER WEL Pre-entry
 USA 45454 Farr 45 DEMARCHELLIER Patrick Pre-entry
 ANT 104 J 122 40′ JAMES DOBBS Pre-entry
  TP 52 54′ JIM SWARTZ Pre-entry
 GBR 8653 R FARR 65 65′ RORY FAULKNER Pre-entry
 GBR 370 L SANTA CRUZ 37 37 RYAN BROOKES Pre-entry
Yacht Name   Sail Design LOA Skipper Status
 US2 W CLASS 76′ DAVID TOFIA Pre-entry
 10200 Herreshoff 43 43 D.Randy West Pre-entry
 ES5 MYLNE 60′ Walwyn Pre-entry
 SUI 4405 SWAN  41′ PATRICK NICHOLAS Pre-entry
Racing Cruising
Yacht Name   Sail Design LOA Skipper Status
 123 Beneteau 45 VELASQUEZ Robert Pre-entry
 16286 FIRST 300 SPIRIT 30′ PHILIPPE HERVE Pre-entry
 88 DUFOUR 425 GL 43′ REY PASCAL Pre-entry
 FRA 479 REQUIN 33 FOX MOWGLI Pre-entry
  BERRET 50.5 ANDRE BEESE Registered 
  X-YACHT 34 MAGRAS Raphael Pre-entry
  BERRET 50.5 PATRICK SMITH Registered 
 97133 SWAN 42 HARPER Daniel Pre-entry
 US 50007 SWAN  48′ JACK DESMOND Pre-entry
 GRB 1007L ELAN 37′ ANNIE O’SULLIVAN Pre-entry
 GBR 9949 T FIRST 40.7 41′ KEN ACOTT Pre-entry
 USA 1 J 95 31′ THOMAS MULLEN Pre-entry
Racing Multihull
Yacht Name   Sail Design LOA Skipper Status
 399BC GUNBOAT 66′ PAUL HAND Pre-entry
 GBR 565  40′ JASON GARD Pre-entry

Genuine Risk At Start Of Bermuda Race (Photo by George Bekris )

Genuine Risk At Start Of Bermuda Race (Photo by George Bekris )

Rambler 100 Reacing in Waves In The RORC Caribbean 600, 2011 (Photo by Tim Wright)

Rambler 100 Reaching in Waves In The RORC Caribbean 600, 2011 (Photo by Tim Wright)

George David’s maxi yacht, Rambler 100, crossed the finish line in Antigua in the early hours of Wednesday morning in an elapsed time of 1 day 16 hours 20 minutes and 2 seconds.

Subject to official confirmation, Rambler 100 has broken the monohull race record set by race rival, Mike Slade’s ICAP Leopard by nearly four hours.

Two of the world’s most impressive racing yachts have been locking horns over 600 miles of high-speed action in a fight to the finish. Competing against each other for the first time and battling it out to snatch the record for the third edition of the RORC Caribbean 600.

The Rambler crew contained the entire compliment of the Puma Ocean Racing team which will be competing in the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race, tired but elated, Puma skipper, Kenny Read commented dockside in Antigua:

“That was a lot of fun but hard work for a while, you do something like sail around the world and that is almost easy compared to this, because there is no time to take any sleep, you’re taking so many corners and turns but it is also a gorgeous course, it’s a dream come true type of event. I am glad we came and that George invited me. Probably the most memorable part of the course was at night with a full moon at the top of St. Maarten, big breeze and massive breaking waves, it was huge fun and really cool, we came out of their doing 26 knots, it has been a real adventure and a this course and Rambler 100 is a whole new dimension for sailing.”

Rambler 100’s George David, an avid sailor and member of the New York Yacht Club, has been sailing with Kenny Read for 17 years.

“Rambler 100 is quite a handful, it’s like a Volvo 70 on steroids and this is a big fast race, which favours us,” commented David. “It is part of the Atlantic Ocean Racing Series, the RORC Caribbean 600 has been a great race as part of that series. We never took this win for granted, we have carried out some optimisation towards the IRC rating and we really didn’t know how we would perform, as this is the first time that the boat has been raced to be IRC competitive. Leopard is a powerful boat and they are a good team that has been sailing together for a number of years.

Thank you to the RORC and the Antigua Yacht Club, a lot of people have put a great deal of effort into making this a great race, I think this race is going to attract a lot of competitors, we have a record fleet this year and I can only seeing it growing, I think we will be back next year.”
IRC Overall Provisional Results
1.  USA25555  Rambler 100     JK 100            George David   
2.  CAN84248  Vela Veloce     Southern Cross 52 Richard Oland  
3.  GBR115L   Sojana          Farr 115          Peter Harrison  
4.  AUS5299   Jazz            Cookson 50        Chris Bull  
5.  GBR1R     ICAP Leopard    Farr 100  Mike Slade Mike Slade/Clarke Murphy
6.  IRL5005   Lee Overlay Partners Cookson 50   Adrian Lee   
7.  GBR22N    Aegir           Carbon Ocean 82   Brian Benjamin  
8.  GBR4321R  Oystercatcher XXVIII Humphreys 54 Richard Matthews  
9.  NED46     Tonnerre de Breskens 3 Ker 46     Piet Vroon  
10. LTU1000   Ambersail       VO 60             Simonas Steponavicius  
11. US60006   Venomous        Carroll Marine 60 Derek Saunders  
12. USA60271  Ocean’s Seven²  Fauroux 104′ OSML Ltd JP Chomette
13. NED001    Windrose Of Amsterdam Dijkstra 40m Schooner Andrew McIrvine 

Follow the rest of the fleet as they complete the race on the Carribbean 600 race tracker brought to you by Yellowbrick

Rambler 100 Launches off a wave (Photo by Tim Wright)

Rambler 100 Launches off a wave (Photo by Tim Wright)

ICAP Leopard Racing (Photo courtesy of ICAP Leopard)

ICAP Leopard Racing (Photo courtesy of ICAP Leopard)

The ICAP Leopard_3, the 100ft super-maxi racing yacht is preparing to launch her assault on the west-to-east monohull transatlantic sailing record in the coming weeks.

The ICAP Leopard 3 features a radical new design concept and is a luxurious, signature charter yacht, a passage record breaker and a race winning super maxi sailing yacht.

The ICAP Leopard 3’s structural design and detailing were created by Farr_Yacht_Design and her interior and exterior styling is by Ken_Freivokh Designs.  All other aspects have been managed by owner Mike Slade’s own very capable team, Ocean Marine.

The yacht is 30 m  (100ft) in length, with a 6.8 m beam, a 5.5 m  draft and a 4.5 metre fixed bowsprit. Her towering mast is 47 m high and her keel cants 40 degrees either side of centreline.

The yachts sleek hull is made of a powerful carbon fibre/nomex combination enabling exceptional speed. The interior volume allows for spacious accommodations which is a notable departure from the current fleet of extremely narrow boats. The wide hull of the ICAP Leopard 3 is especially suited for offshore high-speed sailing and racing and is enhanced by the presence of a chine that increases water flow off the hull and reduces structural weight.
LEOPARD 3 Racing.
The ICAP Leopard features a set of efficient underwater foils including a canting keel, twin asymmetric lifting canards forward and a single rudder on centerline aft. The stability of this canting the keel is equivalent to 200 crew members sitting on the rail, without the added weight. Two hydraulic cylinders typically operating at a load of 61 tonnes cant the keel.

The ICAP Leopards towering rig is  47 metres above the water and can carry up to 15,000 square feet of sail area.

Sailing yacht ICAP Leopard_3 has other unique High Performance Features such as twin dagger boards, (rather than a single forward canard) mounted on hydraulic rollers and a single rudder.  The canards, located on either side of the mast, perfectly balance the sail forces and are lifted and lowered using hydraulically powered pinch rollers. A single, aft rudder controls the steering.  The sailing yacht has the ability to take aboard up to six tonnes of water in the transom area enabling the bow to lift in fast downwind conditions.

Designed and styled by ‘Ken Freivokh Design’ in Fareham, UK, the Leopard’s interior is fitted out in an ultra light, airy and modern decor. The elegant and modern saloon is fitted with home comforts and comfortably seats 12.  The large dining table is to port and to starboard a custom-built carbon coffee table is surrounded by ample seating in rich cream leather.

Following a period of extensive racing, sailing yacht Leopard will ‘evolve’ into phase 2 when three luxurious double guest cabins forward will be fitted prior to the yacht being offered to the termed charter markets of the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. Her interior is fully removable for racing.
LEOPARD 3 Saloon
The 100ft super maxi racing vessel ICAP Leopard_3 is currently berthed in New York  preparing to launch her attack upon the west-to-east monohull transatlantic sailing record in the coming weeks.

Launched in 2007 ICAP Leopard, has already broken 12 major offshore racing records, including the fastest elapsed time ever set in the prestigious Rolex Fastnet Race. The west-to-east monohull transatlantic sailing record will see her tackle the path between Ambrose Light, NY and the Lizard Point, which marks the entrance to the English Channel.

ICAP Leopards target for this attempt will primarily be the record for monohull yachts with power-assisted systems of seven days, 19 hours and 21 minutes that she set in June 2008. Since setting this benchmark the yacht has undergone a series of modifications and the crew are confident that in the right conditions, they will be able to better Mari Cha IV’s outright monohull transatlantic speed record of 6 days 17 hours and 52 minutes.

Negotiating complex weather systems will play an integral role in ICAP Leopard’s latest transatlantic record attempt and will be monitored by veteran navigator Hugh Agnew.

The Captain of the ICAP Leopard is  Chris Sherlock who commented: “We can’t wait to get stuck into another attempt on the Atlantic record. Last time a tight weather window forced us into accepting less than ideal conditions for our record run but we have slightly more leeway this time. Our weather window will open on the 11th May and then we will have roughly three weeks to plan our departure. This should allow us to set ourselves up for the best possible weather pattern.”

Mike Slade the owner of sailing yacht ICAP Leopard noted: “This is something that I have been looking forward to ever since we crossed the finish line last time around. It has been brilliant to hold the record for yachts with power-assisted winches but we know we can go faster. The yacht and crew have been tempered over a two year period of hard racing and we are now sailing faster and harder than ever before. We will have a decent period of time in which to pick our weather window and the crew are all preparing to go on standby for what promises to be a thrilling sprint across the pond!”

ICAP Leopard (Photo by Alan Carville)

ICAP Leopard (Photo by Alan Carville)

 ICAP Leopard was the  first home at the 2009 Rolex Middle Sea Race taking the award for line honours. Try as they might, Mike Slade’s all-star crew were unable to crack the nut that is Rambler’s course record. Arriving just before midday at the Royal Malta Yacht Club line in Marsamxett Harbour, the 100-foot Farr designed supermaxi was just over half an hour outside the mark set by George David and Ken Read two years ago. She had made a tremendous effort never straying far from the pace required despite less than perfect conditions.

Slade  believes they raced as well as they could. He was quick to acknowledge that for every frustration they may have encountered this year, Rambler was sure to have suffered in some similar way herself in 2007. Asked if he could identify any points on the course they could have made up the wayward 30 minutes, he replied wryly, “at least twenty.”

ICAP Leopard‘s record attempt was always in the balance the moment they crossed the start line. They gave it a good go though, relishing a promising forecast. Slade was quick to compliment his crew on a job well done, “it’s fantastic to have finished this tough race. The record was tantalisingly close, but the important thing is that we achieved our goal of getting line honours and bringing the boat home in one piece. The crew were fantastic and our reception in Malta has been amazing – what a wonderful event!”

Even if one sails the boat to its full potential and suffer no breakages, success is still dependent upon the weather. Completing the 606 nautical mile Rolex Middle Sea Race in less than 48 hours is well within the capability of a canting keeled, water ballasted flying machine staffed by some of the world’s top inshore and offshore yacht racing specialists. Brad Jackson, Jules Salter and Guy Salter were all on the winning boat in the last Volvo Ocean Race. Rob Greenhalgh raced on the second placed yacht, whilst Justin Slattery raced on the winning boat in the previous VOR. Jason Carrington has probably built more race winning boats than there have been Rolex Middle Sea Races. Sailmaker Jeremy Elliott is another who has raced around the world and at the America’s Cup. Hugh Agnew navigated the winning yacht at the 2004 Rolex Sydney Hobart. And, in case anyone needed reminding, Mike Slade has moulded teams around him and raced at the grand-prix level of the sport on a variety of state of the art maxi yachts since the early 1990s, invariably with the reassuring hand of Chris Sherlock to run the boat. Experience and ability were two things in plentiful supply. What kept holding Leopard back was the vagaries of the wind.

Slade explained how the race had unfolded, “this race is very special. It always is. It is a tough race and a great race, but any race that goes round in a circle is going to have lots of pitfalls. You are seeing land all the time and you suffer all the things that happen because of the land. There’s a saying that Etna sucks wind out of the Strait and it was true for us. We got stuck in its shadow. We got through and punched on towards Stromboli and that’s where the problems really started.” It was here that the mini maxis Rosebud/Team DYT (USA) and Bella Mente (USA) dropped by the wayside in dramatic fashion on Sunday. Since then some twenty other competing yachts have followed these two into the sickbay as strong gusting winds lashed the northeastern corner of Sicily for a 36-hour period.

“After Stromboli was tough,” comments Slade. “We had 5 or 6 hours of real weather front. We’re a big strong boat and can cope with it. In fact we were hoping to get more of the same at the bottom of the course.” This hope never fully materialised, as he went on to explain. “It took 12 hours to get across to the Egadi Islands and it was only then on the way down to Pantelleria that we started putting on some real boat speed. It was bump, bang, everyone hold on. We would have liked it to carry on down to Lampedusa, but it just didn’t happen. There was no wind there of any consequence.” At this point Leopard was only 75-minutes off Rambler’s blistering pace. Munching the miles to Comino was something this boat was born to do. But she needs wind. Slade had said before the start that 20 knots of wind and flat water would be ideal. What he got for the final long leg was sloppy water and soft winds bouncing between 12 and 18 knots.

Fever (Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo)

Fever (Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo)

“It was a struggle to get back from Lampedusa to Comino,” continued Slade. “And it was a struggle to get into the harbour because the wind was dead aft and we had to do some monumental gybes.” Philosophical in defeat, if line honours in a second successive 600-mile race may be described as such (ICAP Leopard had been first home at the Rolex Fastnet in August), Slade admitted asking himself several times where they could have saved the deal-breaking thirty-minutes. He was adamant that there were any number of places and not one thing in particular could be blamed, adding “that’s yacht racing and we’ll have to do it again now, won’t we!” Malta cannot wait.

The wait for the next boat home was a short one. Just as during the Rolex Fastnet, Karl Kwok’sBeau Geste (HKG) had been shadowing her bigger rival for the whole course, waiting for a chink in the armour that might let her snatch the lead. Skipper Gavin Brady, tactician Francesco de Angelis and navigator Andrew Cape are a deep-filled talent pool, but even they found the conditions testing. Brady is a tough customer, but even he acknowledged the severity of the situation after Stromboli on Saturday night/Sunday morning, “up until then we had been concentrating on getting away from the competition, but when the weather struck we were glad to have some company. We were in survival mode for some time.” The small boats have been reporting difficulties with sail changes at night as bandit squalls struck without warning. Cape confirmed Beau Geste had struggled with this too, particularly as they turned the corner at Favignana, “we had the wrong sail combination up, which caused us to lose a bit of time. In those conditions it can take around an hour to execute a sail change on a boat this size.”

De Angelis was able to throw some humour into the situation describing an incident on board where coming off a wave Cape somersaulted across the cabin to land on top of him, “I have raced against Capey for a long time, but at this moment I got to know him very well!” Karl Kwok is coming to the end of this season’s European adventure, which has seen him and his crew impress at a number of major races and regattas. “We are very happy with the way the boat held up in the conditions. Like others from the [United] States we came to Europe to race because the competition is so good. We’ve not been disappointed.”

With two boats tied up in the harbour we have a yacht race. When Beau Geste crossed the line at 15.28 she moved into pole position on handicap. Her moment in the spotlight was short lived. Alegre (GBR) finished at 18.33 and moved back into a lead that she has held since Stromboli. Neither Rán (GBR) nor Luna Rossa (ITA) were in a position to dislodge her when they finished. Intermatica VO70 (ITA) won the battle of the two Volvo boats, beating Ericsson (SWE) on handicap although not on the water.

The bulk of the fleet is still racing. 23 yachts have now retired citing various reasons, mostly sail and equipment damage resulting from the vicious squalls that persisted until midday today. Next boat home will be DSK Pioneer Investments (ITA), which is halfway between Lampedusa and Malta. After that we are in for a long wait as the competing yachts struggle down the western edge of the course. Seven yachts including the two remaining double-handers have yet to pass Capo San Vito at the northwestern point of Sicily. The forecast shows winds to be remaining from the northwest during the next twelve hours, but lightning up considerably. The smaller yachts are in for a long slog home and those yachts safely back in port will be feeling happier by the hour.

Sailing Past Faviganana (Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo)

Sailing Past Faviganana (Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo)

RAN 2 Overall Handicap Winner of Rolex Fastnet 2009 (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

RAN 2 Overall Handicap Winner of Rolex Fastnet 2009 (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)


Zennström’s Judel-Vrolijk designed 72-footer finished the race in an elapsed time of 63 hours, 1 minute and 33 seconds, which corrected out to 2 hours, 19 minutes ahead of the second-placed Italian America’s Cup team Luna Rossa on board their STP65.

“It is fantastic, we are very excited about it,” commented Zennström. “But it was also a gradual thing, because as we crossed the finish line we knew we had a good result. We had monitored some of the boats behind us, most notably Luna Rossa and Rosebud, which we thought were always going to be the closest competitors to us. And after we came in we spent the morning and actually the whole day yesterday monitoring the updates on the RORC’s OC Tracker and made our own calculations about the likelihoods for the other boats to catch up with us.”

Having failed to complete the last Rolex Fastnet Race, in 2007, the victory for Ran 2 was unfinished business. That race, sailed on board Zennström’s Marten 49, had been the first occasion that the present Ran crew had sailed together. Led by Volvo Ocean Race veteran Tim Powell, the all-star line-up includes seasoned race boat navigator Steve Hayles and America’s Cup sailors such as Adrian Stead and Emirates Team New Zealand’s Andy Hemmings, Richard Bouzaid and Richard Meacham.

Zennström launched his new 72-footer earlier this year, raced it at several events in the Mediterranean, including the Giraglia Rolex Cup, before it was shipped back to the UK, to compete in the Rolex Fastnet Race. “One of the key objectives when we were building Ran 2 was to be able to do offshore races, and the most obvious race we put on the calendar was the Rolex Fastnet Race. So it is great we have done so well in it.” Zennström explains.

This year they have also won the Swedish equivalent of the Rolex Fastnet Race, the Gotland Runt, aboard their previous Ran, a modified TP52.  

“I think it is a really strong team,” concludes Zennström. “We have been sailing together for two years now and the team is getting stronger and stronger. We have been very thorough in our planning, both in terms of the design of the boat and our race preparations. 

Skipper Tim Powell was equally ecstatic about their Rolex Fastnet Race win: “Obviously it is a big achievement being such a prestigious race and one of the classics.” He adds that they had prepared well, believing some way in advance that a major part of the race would be upwind and, with Ran 2 being very powerful and fast upwind, they stood a reasonable chance. “We were focusing more on our class and the boats around us a lot more. But to have won the thing overall is an awesome achievement.”

Ran 2 did especially well outbound down the English Channel and by the key tidal gate at Start Point, they had pulled out a 10 mile lead over their Mini Maxi rivals. “That first 20 hours up the Channel was all important, tactically and navigationally, and as a crew we sailed very, very well,” says Powell. 

Eddie Warden-Owen, CEO of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, says that this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race did favour the larger boats. “If you think that we’ve had spring tides, and really light winds, one of the big gains that the big boats made was on the first night when they came to Portland Bill and they were able to make the tide. You could see on the tracker that those who had managed to make it away from Portland Bill had a huge advantage, whereas the others were stopped and some had to put their anchor down. So the story of the race in many respects ended there, but we didn’t know which big boat was going to win.”

The opportunity for the smaller boats to win fizzled over the last 24 hours when windier conditions that might have provided them with a fast finish to make up for their deficit, caused by missing the tide at Portland Bill on the first night, failed to materialise.

“Ran sailed really well against the opposition and it is a well-deserved victory,” concluded Warden-Owen. “It is a young crew of British guys on the boat, even though it is owned by a Swede and they are very experienced America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race sailors. So, a good effort.”

At the end of this afternoon, 59 boats of 300 starters had reached Plymouth and berthed in Sutton Harbour in the heart of the Devonshire city. The latest arrivals included the first to finish in IRC Class 1, Nicolas Loday and Jean-Claude Nicoleau’s Grand Soleil 43, Codiam.

At present La Floresta Del Mar, Amanda Hartley’s Swan 56 can’t be beaten in IRC Z, having finished at 03:24 GMT this morning. While Codiam remains first on handicap in IRC 1, Marc Alperovitch and Jérome Huillard’s A-35 Prime Time is leading in IRC 2 and at 15:00 had just passed the Lizard with 43 miles left to go to the finish. Finally, Fabrice Amedeo’s X-332 Bateaux Mouches du Pont de l’Alma remains first in IRC 3, with 15 miles left to go to Bishop Rock.  The majority of the fleet have now rounded the Fastnet Rock with the backmarker, the Bristol Channel pilot cutter, Morwenna, midway across the Celtic Sea with just over one third of the race course completed.

Niklas Zennstrom   (Photo By Carlo Borlenghi)

Niklas Zennstrom (Photo By Carlo Borlenghi)

This afternoon the Royal Ocean Racing Club, organisers of the biennial British 608-mile classic offshore race, confirmed that Niklas Zennström’s Ran 2 is the overall handicap winner of the 2009 Rolex Fastnet Race.