John Williams, Owner of J-Class yacht J/5 Ranger. (Photo © George Bekris)

John Williams, Owner of J-Class yacht J/5 Ranger. (Photo © George Bekris)

 

The sailing world is saddened by the sudden passing of  John  Williams, owner of the J-Class yacht Ranger. Mr. Williams passed away on Monday, 16th April.

 J-Class yacht J/5 Ranger. J-Class Regatta 2017 Newport, RI (Photo © George Bekris)

J-Class yacht J/5 Ranger. J-Class Regatta 2017 Newport, RI (Photo © George Bekris)

John, a prominent property developer in Atlanta, Georgia, was a leading light in the J Class for many years. His vision and passion for Ranger, the J Class and its long history was instrumental in the formation of the J Class Association and the consequent renaissance the class is enjoying presently.

After being inspired by seeing Velsehda and Endeavour racing in the Caribbean in the late 1990s, he chartered Endeavour to race in Antigua. That was the catalyst for his decision to commission the build of Ranger, the first J Class yacht to be built since the 1930s. Construction started at the Danish Yacht Boatyard in early 2002.

He raced and cruised Ranger extensively in the Caribbean, Europe and all around the world with considerable success.

His boat Ranger won the 2011 J-Class Regatta in Newport, RI. His boat was an often seen racer in the Newport area.

Crew of Ranger in 2011 after winning the Newport J-Class Regatta (Photo by George Bekris)

Crew of Ranger in 2011 after winning the Newport J-Class Regatta (Photo by George Bekris)

John Williams is survived by his wife Nancy, three children; Jay, Sarah Brook and Parker, and two grandchildren; Jack and Harrison. The thoughts and condolences of the wider J Class community are extended to his family and to all of the Ranger family.

John’s long serving ‘admiral of the fleet’ Dan Jackson notes: “As far as yachting goes, John started about 30 years ago and worked his way up from a 50ft sloop to building “Atlanta”, “Georgia” and then “Ranger”, which we launched in 2003.

“He was never happier than when on the boat with a full race crew mixing it up with other J boats. As far as significant wins, he was always proud of the wins in Sardinia at the Rolex Maxi Cup and the “clean sweep” that we had in St Tropez in 2014, winning all of the races. He loved having his family and the race crew (his second family) around him, enjoying the boat.”

 J-Class yacht J/5 Ranger. J-Class Regatta 2017 Newport, RI (Photo © George Bekris)

J-Class yacht J/5 Ranger. J-Class Regatta 2017 Newport, RI (Photo © George Bekris)

 

Loick Peyron wins the 2014 Route du Rhum on Maxi Trimaran Banque Populaire VII (Photo © ALEXIS COURCOUX  )

Loick Peyron wins the 2014 Route du Rhum on Maxi Trimaran Banque Populaire VII (Photo © ALEXIS COURCOUX )

Monday, November 10, 2014

Thirty two years after the first of his seven attempts, French ocean racing star Loick Peyron won the mythical Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe this Monday morning (TU) when he crossed the finish line of the solo race from Saint-Malo France to Pointe-a-Pitre at 04:08:32 TU/05:08:32 CET/00:08:32 local The lone skipper of the 31.5m (103ft) Ultime trimaran Maxi Solo Banque Populaire VII completed the 3,542 miles course in 7d 15h 8m 32s.

His elapsed time is a new outright record for the course passage, which was first raced in 1982, breaking the 2006 reference time set by Lionel Lemonchois (7 days 17 hours and 9 minutes) by 2hrs 10mins 34secs.

Peyron sailed the 3,524 NMs theoretical course at an average of 19.34kts. In reality he sailed 4,199NM at an average of 22.93kts.

Skipper of the 14 man 2011-2012 Banque Populaire crew which holds the outright Jules Verne Trophy sailing non-stop around the world record, Peyron has a longstanding special affection for La Route du Rhum as it is the Transatlantic race which launched his solo ocean racing career as a 22 year old. Until today he had finished fifth twice and was forced to abandon three times in the ORMA 60 trimarans in 1990, 1994 and 2002.

At the age of 54, his Route du Rhum triumph is another new summit for the sailor from La Baule, Brittany who turns his hand with equal skill to all disciplines of sailing from foiling Moth dinghies to the giant multihulls as well as the America’s Cup.

Ironically he was only enlisted two months ago to replace skipper Armel Le Cléach’h who injured his hand.

Maxi Solo Banque Populaire VII’s win was built from the first night at sea. After negotiating a difficult upwind section Peyron was the first to turn off Ushant, perfectly timing his key passage through the front. He opened his lead in almost all sections of the course, except momentarily when he lead into a bubble of light winds under the Azores high-pressure system. But his approach to Guadeloupe regained distance and when he crossed the finish line second placed Yann Guichard on the 40m Spindrift was 180 miles astern.

It is the second time in a row that the race has been won by the same trimaran, which was designed by VPLP. In 2010 Franck Cammas won on the same boat when it was Groupama, in a time of 9 days 3 hours.

His win is all the more remarkable for the fact that Peyron stepped in for the injured Le Cléac’h only two months ago and many times pre-start in Saint-Malo he voiced his concerns about the magnitude of the physical challenge he faced, playing down any suggestions or expectations.

In fact Peyron had originally planned to sail this Rhum in a tiny 11.5m trimaran called Happy. But his vast experience and technical skills on multihulls filled the gap, complemented by the accomplished skills of his routers ashore – who plot his course for him – Marcel van Triest and Armel Le Cléac’h. His two ‘guardian angels’ kept his course fast, simple, smooth and safe.

First words from Loick upon arrival: “It is a very nice victory but a team victory. I was not supposed to be on this boat two months ago. I was supposed to do the Rhum race on a very small yellow trimaran, which will be the case in four years time, I will be back. But it is not a surprise because I knew that the boat was able to do it. I knew that the team was able to help me a lot.

Armel is here but he does not want to be here on the pontoon. But he is here and in fact we spent the week together. We were talking all the time, before and during the race, and he gave me so much help.

It was really tough, but I am really impressed by the job that Yann Guichard has done since the start. His boat is bigger, this boat is big but it is nice.

The last day was difficult, from the early hours off the Désirade, there was a lot of maneuvering to be done. It’s been seven editions for me! This is an exceptional situation, to stand in for Armel and to be able to skipper such a beautiful boat. This victory is thanks to Team Banque Populaire, as whole team we did this.

I never imagined that I would win a Route du Rhum on a boat like this. A race like this is never simple and that is what is so exciting and incredible about it. It is also very stressful for the boat to withstand such high speeds in bad seas. I was able to sail the boat well but was scared. This is what the multihull game is all about. You have to constantly manage the boat. One night I fell asleep at the helm and nearly capsized the boat. This is a great victory; possibly one of the nicest and breaking the record is the cherry on top of the cake.”

Hilary Lister British quadriplegic sailor( paralysed from the neck down) and Nashwa Al Kindi (OMA) shown here finishing their trans-ocean crossing from Mumbai - Muscat. Oman. Onboard a specially adapted Dragonfly trimaran. Credit - Lloyd Images

Hilary Lister British quadriplegic sailor( paralysed from the neck down) and Nashwa Al Kindi (OMA) shown here finishing their trans-ocean crossing from Mumbai – Muscat. Oman. Onboard a specially adapted Dragonfly trimaran. Credit – Lloyd Images

 

Mumbai (20 March 2014) – British quadriplegic sailor Hilary Lister (42), and Omani Nashwa Al Kindi (32) have sailed into the record books aboard a 28ft Dragonfly trimaran to claim two new trans-ocean records.

Although they crossed the finish line in Oman last night, the official welcome took place at The Wave, Muscat earlier today. A huge gathering turned out to honour the two girls who now hold records for the first ever severely paralysed woman and the first Arab female sailor to make a trans-oceanic crossing.The 850-nautical mile journey across the Indian Ocean started from Mumbai, India on Tuesday 11 March and took nine days to complete. The course generally took them up wind with winds reaching no more than 10-15kts, and the average boat speed was 5-6kts. They did however, encounter a 36-hour stop to refuel and carry out a repair to the Code Zero sail, which delayed their overall finish time.Lister, who suffers from a degenerative disease – Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy – and who is paralysed from the neck down, can now add this record to the already impressive solo round Britain disabled record she set in 2009. Lister commented: “I am delighted to have set this record with Nashwa. It was a truly amazing journey, particularly the arrival into Oman. More than anything, however, this trip has highlighted that longer offshore legs are a lot easier for me than shorter legs where I am constantly getting on and off the boat.”

The team, powered by Oman Sail and sponsored by Mistal and United Engineering Services, with support from Oman Air, GAC Pindar, Harken, Ocean Safety and Raymarine, were sailing a specially adapted Dragonfly. This boat incorporates a unique sip and puff sailing system that sends signals to a device using air pressure. By inhaling or exhaling into a straw Lister is able to steer, trim sails and navigate.

Hilary Lister British quadriplegic sailor( paralysed from the neck down) and Nashwa Al Kindi (OMA) shown here finishing their trans-ocean crossing from Mumbai - Muscat. Oman. Onboard a specially adapted Dragonfly trimaran. Credit - Lloyd Images

Hilary Lister British quadriplegic sailor( paralysed from the neck down) and Nashwa Al Kindi (OMA) shown here finishing their trans-ocean crossing from Mumbai – Muscat. Oman. Onboard a specially adapted Dragonfly trimaran. Credit – Lloyd Images

Lister continued: “Thanks to Roger Crabtree’s simple ‘plug and play’ sip and puff system, I think we proved that a long distance oceanic passage is highly achievable. This particular creation means I can transfer it from one boat to another, which has inspired me to think about future challenges. In the short term, however, it will be a case of trying to help other people with similar difficulties to me, get on the water by making this system available.”

Commenting on the highlight of the voyage, Lister said it has to be the phosphorescence: “Being on the ocean at night was simply sensational. I will never forget the amount of phosphorescence.

“The funniest moment I had was when a flying fish hit me slap, bang in the middle of the face. It was a hilarious moment, and we still laugh about it now. As well as the serious sailing, we had a lot of fun.”

Lister’s teammate, Al Kindi believes that becoming the first Arab female to set a new sailing record will hopefully inspire other women to follow their dreams. Al Kindi, who is a dinghy sailing instructor at Oman Sail, only started sailing in 2011 but instantly adopted the sport. In a short period of time she was recognised as the “Coach of the Year” in Oman Sail’s Sailor of the Year Awards 2013, and presented with the ISAF President Development Award 2013 for outstanding achievement.

As she stepped ashore she said: “I am very happy and proud to achieve this goal. It was always my dream to sail offshore in a big boat. I am sure, and I hope that what we have done will be an inspiration for Omani and non-Omani women to go for their dreams and goals. For me personally, it has strengthened my ultimate goal, which is to sail solo around the world one day.”

Commenting on the trip’s most memorable moments, Al Kindi said: “I will always remember the chats I had with Hilary on deck at night. She is a good, experienced sailor and she taught me a lot and she is my biggest inspiration.”

Hilary Lister British quadriplegic sailor( paralysed from the neck down) and Nashwa Al Kindi (OMA) shown here finishing their trans-ocean crossing from Mumbai - Muscat. Oman. Onboard a specially adapted Dragonfly trimaran. Credit - Lloyd Images

Hilary Lister British quadriplegic sailor( paralysed from the neck down) and Nashwa Al Kindi (OMA) shown here finishing their trans-ocean crossing from Mumbai – Muscat. Oman. Onboard a specially adapted Dragonfly trimaran. Credit – Lloyd Images


Dutch sailor Laura Dekker throws a rope as she docks her boat in Simpson Bay Marina in St. Maarten, Saturday Jan. 21, 2012. Dekker ended a yearlong voyage aboard her sailboat named "Guppy" that made her the youngest person ever to sail alone around the globe, although Guinness World Records and the World Sailing Speed Record Council did not verify the voyage, saying they no longer recognize records for youngest sailors to discourage dangerous attempts. (Photo by AP Photo/Stephan Kogelman)

Dutch sailor Laura Dekker throws a rope as she docks her boat in Simpson Bay Marina in St. Maarten, Saturday Jan. 21, 2012. Dekker ended a yearlong voyage aboard her sailboat named "Guppy" that made her the youngest person ever to sail alone around the globe, although Guinness World Records and the World Sailing Speed Record Council did not verify the voyage, saying they no longer recognize records for youngest sailors to discourage dangerous attempts. (Photo by AP Photo/Stephan Kogelman)

Laura Dekker set a steady foot aboard a dock in St. Maarten on Saturday, ending a yearlong voyage aboard a sailboat named “Guppy” that apparently made her the youngest person ever to sail alone around the globe, though her trip was interrupted at several points.

Dozens of people jumped and cheered as Dekker waved, wept and then walked across the dock accompanied by her mother, father, sister and grandparents, who had greeted her at sea earlier.

Dekker arrived in St. Maarten after struggling against high seas and heavy winds on a final, 41-day leg from Cape Town, South Africa.

“There were moments where I was like, ‘What the hell am I doing out here?,’ but I never wanted to stop,” she told reporters. “It’s a dream, and I wanted to do it.”

Dekker claims she is the youngest sailor to complete a round-the-world voyage, but Guinness World Records and the World Sailing Speed Record Council did not verify the claim, saying they no longer recognize records for youngest sailors to discourage dangerous attempts.

 Dutch authorities tried to block Dekker’s trip, arguing she was too young to risk her life, while school officials complained she should be in a classroom.

Dekker said she was born to parents living on a boat near the coast of New Zealand and said she first sailed solo at 6 years old. At 10, she said, she began dreaming about crossing the globe. She celebrated her 16th birthday during the trip, eating doughnuts for breakfast after spending time at port with her father and friends the night before in Darwin, Australia.

The teenager covered more than 27,000 nautical miles on a trip with stops that sound like a skim through a travel magazine: the Canary Islands, Panama, the Galapagos Islands, Tonga, Fiji, Bora Bora, Australia, South Africa and now, St. Maarten, from which she set out on Jan. 20, 2011.

“Her story is just amazing,” said one of Dekker’s fans, 10-year-old Jody Bell of Connecticut. “I can’t imagine someone her age going out on sea all by herself.”

Bell was in St. Maarten on a work trip with her mother, Deena Merlen, an attorney in Manhattan, who wanted to see Dekker complete her journey. The two wore T-shirts that read: “Guppy rocks my world.”

“My daughter and I have been following Laura’s story, and we think it’s amazing and inspiring,” Merlen said.

Unlike other young sailors who recently crossed the globe, Dekker repeatedly anchored at ports along the way to sleep, study and repair her 38-foot (11.5-meter) sailboat.

During her trip, she went surfing, scuba diving, cliff diving and discovered a new hobby: playing the flute, which she said in her weblog was easier to play than a guitar in bad weather.

Dekker also complained about custom clearings, boat inspections, ripped sails, heavy squalls, a wet and salty bed, a near-collision with two cargo ships and the presence of some persistent stowaways: cockroaches.

“I became good friends with my boat,” she said. “I learned a lot about myself.”

Highlights of her trip include 47 days of sailing the Indian Ocean, which left her with unsteady legs when she docked in Durban, South Africa, where she walked up and down the pier several times for practice.

While in South Africa, she also saw her first whale.

“It dove right in front of my boat and got all this water on my boat, and that wasn’t really nice,” she said.

Dekker launched her trip two months after Abby Sunderland, a 16-year-old U.S. sailor, was rescued in the middle of the Indian Ocean during a similar attempt. Jessica Watson of Australia completed a 210-day solo voyage at age 16, a few months older than Dekker.

Dekker had said she planned to move to New Zealand after her voyage, but she said Saturday that she wants to finish school first. If she goes to New Zealand, she said, she’d like to sail there.