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Thread: 2015 Transatlantic Race Gets Underway

  1. #11
    Late starters not getting much breeze!

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    TransAtlantic 2015 Day 9 Report

    Gales and Flat Calms in the Atlantic

    (Tuesday, July 7, 2015) – Gales and prolonged strong winds since the start have taken their toll as the bulk of the fleet reaches the halfway stage of the Transatlantic Race 2015.

    On board the Class 40 Amhas, doublehanded crew Mackenzie Davis and Brian Harris have been forced to retire with mast issues and are currently nursing their Akilaria RC3 towards the Azores.

    For those following the YB tracker, there were some nervous moments last night as Daniel and Gretchen Biemesderfer’s Mason 43, Shearwater, appeared to be slowly heading in the direction of the Caribbean. Unable to raise the crew, the Race Committee scrambled Sir Geoffrey Mulcahy’s Swan 56 Noonmark VI to assist. As they closed Noonmark’s crew was able to raise the Shearwater crew, who subsequently sent this update: “We sustained some damage: broken boom vang, traveller and importantly mainsail. We're hove to until the weather abates. At that point we'll decide if we can continue racing. However, the boat is fine and the crew are all well and in good spirits. We're all getting some much needed rest.”

    A few hours later, Shearwater checked in via Sat Phone with the Race Office and confirmed that they were dropping out of the race and sailing to the Azores to effect repairs.

    With boats spread out across some 1500 miles of race track, the weather they are currently experiencing is hugely contrasting. Early this morning, boats off the eastern end of Point Alpha, the ice exclusion zone, were seeing 40 to 50 knots, while at the front of the fleet, Mariette of 1915 had been becalmed and those still closest to America, the fastest boats in the fleet, were uncharacteristically clocking some of the slowest speeds, trapped in high pressure extending from Newfoundland south to Bermuda.

    Furthest south among the lead group, the Open 60 Grey Power this morning had 11 to 15 knots from the southwest after a big Monday. “Yesterday we were blasting, really shifting, getting 17-knot averages. We slowed down overnight, and today it is down to 11 to 12,” reported skipper and living legend Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, who in 1969 became the first man ever to sail singlehanded non-stop around the world.

    On board Grey Power, he is accompanied by an all-star cast of old friends, including former RORC Commodore and chief blogger, David Aisher, leading yacht broker Bernard Gallay (regular crew on his British Airways catamaran in the mid-1980s) and Dilip Donde, the first Indian to sail singlehanded around the world. “It is lovely having some old and trusted friends with you and enjoying crossing an ocean again,” said Knox-Johnston.

    Knox-Johnston is renowned for serving up eye-watering curries on board, but this trip has passed this on. “I don’t do curries when Dilip is onboard; I know when I am outclassed. He makes excellent ones!”

    It seems probable Grey Power will be fifth home on the water, but in terms of his progress Knox-Johnston is still kicking himself after making a tactical error after the start. Their only major incident to date was when they ran into something, believed to be a whale, three days ago. Fortunately the boat survived intact and they have continued.

    A most extraordinary performance is that of the 1929, 52’ yawl Dorade, which the boat’s eminent yacht designer Olin Stephens raced to victory in the 1931 Transatlantic Race, coming home in 17 days, two days ahead of the nearest competition (for which the Stephens received a ticker-tape parade up New York City’s Broadway). Dorade’s present owner Matt Brooks says that he would like to match or better the yacht’s time; however, this is no mean feat given that today the course is much longer to avoid icebergs and they have experienced heinous conditions.

    “A day and a half ago the wind was into the 40s with 15- to 18-ft seas and we were sailing upwind,” said Brooks. “It was the first time we had ever sailed with three reefs.” This morning the wind was 18 knots from the southwest, and another gale was on its way.

    Despite this, Dorade is showing her old form, hanging on to the coat tails of boats substantially newer than she is. As Brooks says: “The old girl is keeping up.” Two days ago they set a new speed record of 18.7 knots (compared to 11.4 knots, Dorade’s top speed in 1931).

    At the front of the fleet Mariette of 1915 has lost ground on the chasing pack, as she dropped off the back of the depression she had been riding.

    “Last night we had no wind at all,” recounted navigator Halvard Mabire. “We never stopped, but we stayed a long time at two to three knots.” Despite the lack of wind, the substantial swell persisted, creating a rolly ride even for the 165-ton classic. “That is very difficult on any boat, but we have eight tons of rigging, masts, sails and gaffs and our main boom is 17 meters long,” said skipper Charlie Wroe of what was clunking around aloft last night.

    This morning the wind had returned and the Mariette crew was expecting it to veer from the southeast into the southwest today; and they were expecting to be overhauled by Lucky and Nomad IV in due course. As Wroe stated: “The fast reaching conditions look pretty stable for the next two to three days, so they are going to do a horizon job on us. All we can do is to try and hang on.”

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  3. #13
    Comanche currently doing 2.4 knots, Phaedo 3.5


  4. #14
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    Tracker


    Storm Force Winds in the Mid-Atlantic

    (Wednesday, July 8, 2015) – Severe conditions in the mid-north Atlantic have continued to punish the bulk of the fleet in the Transatlantic Race 2015.

    Yesterday Daniel and Gretchen Biemesderfer made the decision to retire from the race after their Mason 43 Shearwater suffered mainsail and rigging damage. She is heading for the Azores. Similarly, just before midnight UTC, Carter Bacon’s Nielsen 50 Solution sustained damage to her rudder and was taking on water. She becomes the sixth boat in the Transatlantic Race to retire and is now diverting to the Azores, albeit without electronics, which went down in a previous deluge.

    Last night the mid-fleet took a pounding as a depression passed to their north and they were blasted by its associated cold front. During this one of the most northerly boats, Earl St Aldwyn’s Shipman 50 Zephyr saw sustained winds in the low 40s and one gust of 59 knots (i.e. Force 11/violent storm on the Beaufort scale)

    “It was a little bit more than we anticipated, but we knew it was going to blow so we hunkered down,” recounted Zephyr skipper David Sharples. “It was just the front of the squalls which were a bit hefty.” During this time, while running under triple-reefed main and working jib, Zephyr scored a new personal high speed of 22 knots down one surf.

    This morning, conditions had abated and the wind was ‘merely’ in the low 30s from the southwest. “We have been remarkably lucky with breakage, so far—touch wood that continues,” continued Sharples. “We are still chasing Dorade and Carina and hoping we can catch one of them before the line.”





    113 miles ahead of Zephyr, the mostly German crew on the Class 40 leader Stella Nova also had a lively night. However, rather than being a fast cruiser, their Mach 40 is a pure ocean racer.
    “It is a great team on board, all working together,” said skipper Burkard Keese, pleased to be rolling past 60-footers. “A Class 40 is designed for conditions like we’ve got, and the Mach 40 from JPS Production is just a dream, amazing.” No doubt contributing to boat speed in the crew is leading Class 40 sailor Jörg Riechers, who earlier this year sailed an IMOCA 60 around the world doublehanded in the Barcelona World Race.
    According to Keese, last night they ‘only’ saw 40 knots and were able to eat up the miles under two reefs and spinnaker. Today the wind had dropped and they were awaiting the arrival of the next front. Generally all is well except the sails have taken a hammering and they destroyed their Code 0 during one particularly violent squall.
    Meanwhile the depression and cold front that pummeled the mid-fleet is now catching up with the front-runners, who are benefitting from not being so close to its center. The lead trio currently resembles three sprinters gunning for the line. At 0800 EDT (1200 UTC), the mighty 138’ gaff-rigged schooner Mariette of 1915 was still a nose in front with 643 miles to go compared to Lucky and Nomad IV, on 655 and 683 miles, respectively. However Mariette’s younger carbon-fiber rivals will certainly pass her, with Bryon Ehrhart’s Reichel/Pugh 63 Lucky hunting ‘the double’— overall victory under IRC and bragging rights of being first home — if she can stay ahead of Clarke Murphy’s well-appointed 100-foot performance maxi Nomad IV. At present, a Friday-night finish is likely, but will ultimately depend on whether or not conditions go light approaching the Scilly Isles.

    Meanwhile, there is the faint noise of V8 engines revving in the western Atlantic, where the world’s two fastest monohulls and two of the world’s fastest trimarans have been wallowing for the last 24 hours. Here the wrong sort of records are being set: this morning Lloyd Thornburg’s MOD 70 trimaran Phaedo3, usually capable of average speeds of 30-plus knots and peak speeds of more than 40, had covered just 91 miles over the previous 24 hours, or an average speed of 3.7 knots.
    Over the course of this morning Jim and Kristy Clark’s 100-foot Comanche managed to find some pressure to the north and has rolled even Phaedo3, opening up a lead of almost 50 miles over her direct competition, George David’s Rambler 88.
    “It is lovely out here!” said Rambler 88’s Australian navigator Andrew Cape with the tone of a man who spent the last hours pulling his hair out. “We had a really bad patch, but it was always in the plan, and we’ve had to live with it.”

    This morning the wind was slowly filling in and Rambler 88 was recording eight knots and Cape, who has barely drawn breath after finishing the Volvo Ocean Race as navigator on Team Brunel, was expecting the breeze to fill in later today. “Tomorrow we should be smoking along, happily on our way.”

    Thanks to the park up, George David’s monohull race record of 6 days 22 hours, set on Rambler 100 in 2011, looks set to stand. However, Cape warns that the two maxis may be in for a fast run over Friday-Saturday as they scream towards the UK. Record breaking? “We could give it a real good nudge,” he advises.
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    50' Seas Make Dorade Surf

    We have approximately 1,000 miles to the finish and the A4 sail is up on Starboard tack. After four days of grey skies and breeze up above 25 knots, we’re finally seeing a little change of weather with the skies slightly clearing. However, the water is still choppy and cold with the temperature around 65 degrees. I just overheard Giles at the helm telling Matt we are averaging ten knots over the ground.




    Overall, spirits are good onboard, as we wait optimistically for each tracker update. Our three-way battle with Carina and Scarlet Oyster is still pretty tight and could go to anyone at this point. The next few shifts will be quite important for the old Dorade. From here until the finish, we’re hoping the breeze stays under 25 knots; when we go above 25 knots we’re forced to take down the spinnaker, which in turn slows our speed.

    Last night (Tuesday, July 7) was an epic one, and the northern Atlantic Ocean showed Dorade what it is made of, with breeze in the mid 30s making for quickly building swells and a leftover sloppy sea state. It wasn’t until sunrise at 3:00 a.m. EDT that we realized how big the swells had risen, with the faces of waves reaching fifty feet. Watching Dorade’s stern rise with the top of each wave and then being onboard as she flew down it was quite spectacular and definitely got the adrenaline pumping. In our continual quest for top speed, Ben and I think there may have been a new record, but we didn’t get a good reading, as even the mast displays were fully underwater. It sure was thrilling to see Dorade slip down the face of a wave that was far longer than her, but for both her sake and mine, I hope to never have to see her do that again.

    Personally, it’s been a good trip and very busy, making the days go by quickly. I am really hoping we can start to catch a break on the choppy weather and get a little luck from the weather gods. The rocking of the boat is relentless right now, and mentally I am just really looking forward to the back-and-forth rolling to stop. She is definitely not easy to sail in big seas, so having the boat trimmed perfectly is a must, otherwise the helmsman may be taking a few extra Advil after their watch.

    In terms of Dorade’s performance, I must say that sailing her can teach any sailor a thing or two. We have nicknamed her “Moses” (the boat that parts water) as when Dorade gets going the amount of water she displaces is incredible. I’m starting to look forward to passing The Lizard, but with up to a week away, we will stay focused on the goal. Signing out.
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    30 Knot Maniac ShanaCruz50's Avatar
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    GoBen(Galloway)Go!

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    Tricky Finish Ahead for Lucky

    (Wednesday, July 8, 2015) – With a day and a half to go, the three-way battle to be first home in the Transatlantic Race 2015 has changed complexion, with Bryon Ehrhart’s Lucky taking the lead on the water. Yesterday afternoon the Reichel/Pugh 63 finally passed the giant schooner, Mariette of 1915, a vessel twice her size, but some 93 years her senior.

    Lucky, also favorite for handicap honors, had 312 miles left to sail at 1000 EDT (1400 UTC). Yacht racing wisdom would dictate she should now keep herself between her competition and the finish line off The Lizard. Instead she chose a different path and this morning appeared bound for southern Ireland rather than southern England.

    The reason for this is that there remains one final challenge all three boats — Lucky, Mariette and Clarke Murphy’s 100-foot maxi Nomad IV — must tackle: a patch of light or no wind hovering around the Scilly Isles/Land’s End. For Lucky, this is the worst scenario with Mariette and Nomad IV likely to close from astern in strong wind ahead of a cold front. Should Lucky get trapped in a wind-less hole, Nomad IV could weave a path around her and claim bragging rights as the first boat across the finish line.

    To avoid this, Lucky is heading north where she can remain in stronger winds for the longest period. Conversely Mariette is now on a more southerly course. Last night at 2200 UTC (1800 EDT) she crossed some 15 miles astern of Lucky. This morning, Mariette and Nomad IV were on parallel courses with the schooner some 46 miles north of the 100’ maxi, which is the most southerly of the three boats closing in on the finish.

    Mid-morning the three horse race nearly became a two horse race. As Nomad IV’s Clarke Murphy recounted: “I was at the wheel in pea-soup fog, no visibility, going 15 knots. All of a sudden I see, 10 meters off the bow, a huge breaching whale and I scream ‘whale’ — I have hit whales before in previous trips. So I shoved the wheel to windward and we passed two to three meters by a floating 40-foot container covered in barnacles on the port side. We were so close, you could see its registration number.”

    Going nearly head to wind caused the spinnaker halyard to explode, causing the team’s Code 0 to topple into the water. Fortunately it was recovered without incident and Nomad IV recovered and continued, albeit with the crews’ hearts still pounding.

    “A container floating is always my greatest fear,” said Murphy. “If I had a clot in any valve of my heart, it has been flushed through successfully…”

    Meanwhile the mood has lightened at the back of the fleet after the race’s four fastest boats endured a windless 48 hours.
    In search of breeze, navigator Stan Honey got the crew on Jim and Kristy Clarke’s 100-foot Comanche to head north, enabling the giant maxi to find a way through the mess. But behind, Rambler 88 had been able to cut the corner as the high receded to the south.

    Despite the conditions having since turned favorable, Comanche skipper Ken Read was still vocal about the previous two days: “We finally got into the same breeze as our friends on Rambler did. They spent the last two days sailing in more wind than us. We were living in torture the entire time knowing that they were reeling us in and knowing there was nothing you could do about it.”

    On a more positive note, Comanche yesterday managed to overtake Lloyd Thornburg’s MOD70 Phaedo³. Later the two boats converged around 40 miles short of the southwestern end of Point Alpha, the ice exclusion zone. Inevitably Phaedo³ pulled ahead, starting her run along the southern side of the ice zone at 0600 UTC (0200 EDT) followed by Comanche some 45 minutes later.

    Later this morning Comanche was jib reaching along the bottom of the ice zone in 19 to 20 knots of wind making 24.7 knots. “The fat-bottomed girl is pretty lit up right now. If we could do this for the next few days we’d be pretty darned happy,” Read continued. “But you also remember just how violent these boats are, how angry they can be in certain conditions. And it looks like it is going to get worse.”

    The four boats at the back are now set to have a relentless, high-speed run toward the British Isles at possibly record-breaking pace. “We have a couple of cold fronts and it’ll be ‘hold on fellas’ because it is going to get pretty interesting,” said Read, warning that while they would be going fast, it was also their objective to make it to the finish.

    With strong south westerlies currently spanning the breadth of the North Atlantic, the freshest breeze today remained in the mid-fleet which was still seeing 35 knots.

    South of the group experiencing the severest conditions was Snow Lion of former New York Yacht Club Commodore Lawrence Huntington, who is doing his seventh transatlantic race at the age of 80. His Ker 50 passed the ‘1000 miles to go’ mark this morning and was experiencing 15 to 20 knots from the west.

    “We have had a beautiful downwind sailing trip so far,” reported Huntington. “A couple days of fairly strong wind, but now it is picture perfect sailing with the wind over the stern and a beautiful seascape with beautiful white puffy clouds. Everything is okay - so far! This is a good strong boat and we aren’t worried about it. We have very minor damage to a lifeline/stanchion but otherwise nothing to report. Everything is in good shape.”
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    Line Honors and Bragging Rights for Lucky

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

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

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



    Tracker



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

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

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

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

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





    Lucky passes The Lizard © Lloyd images ltd www.lloydimages.com


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The battle remains relentless against the ocean racing classics Carina and Dorade, but Scarlet Oyster is now ahead of the former on handicap, but still lying third to the immaculate S&S classic in IRC Class 4.
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    Sunday, July 12, 2015) – German boats were fourth and fifth home on the water in the Transatlantic Race. Tilmar Hansen’s Outsider crossed the finish line off the Lizard at the southernmost tip of Cornwall, at 13:55:27 UTC (09:55:27 EDT) on Saturday and completed the Coastal Race on to Cowes, finishing off the Royal Yacht Squadron just after dawn this morning.

    “Being back in Cowes is a very emotional moment for me,” said Hansen. “We have very nice memories from 1983 and 1985 with our [victorious] Admiral’s Cup campaigns with Outsider.”





    This was the present Outsider’s second Transatlantic Race following the HSH Nordbank Blue Race in 2007 in which she claimed line honours, IRC Class 2 and was second overall under IRC. The German team looks set to repeat the latter result in the present race – a performance all the more remarkable because its satellite communications broke down early in the race, and they were unable to receive vital weather information.
    “These days there is so much weather routing and technology, it is a good feeling that you can do it without that help, just like the good old days,” remarked Hansen. “We had to go back to basics, sticking to the rhumb line, hoping that we wouldn’t fall into any wind holes.”

    Outsider, a New Zealand designed and built Elliot 52, usually based in Kiel, has a canting keel and provided a wet ride for the crew. Hansen described it as being like “a constant fire drill where we were the fire!” This was particularly bad early on in the race as they were crossing the Gulf Stream. “The sea state would change dramatically, in seconds at times with the eddies. You went from flat water, when the racing was easy, to moments when you were surfing down huge waves and you had to slow down, especially at night time when you couldn’t see anything.”

    The most wind they saw was only in the mid-30s. At times they saw peak boat speeds of 27 knots, but Hansen said they preferred to maintain a constant average speed of 16 to 17 knots, under jib top, staysail with one reef in the main.

    “They did a really great job and worked like hell,” said Hansen of his crew led by Thomas Jungblut, whose tenure with the Outsider team dates back to the Admiral’s Cup campaigns 30 years ago. “They kept Outsider running and fighting and racing. We had no major damage, only little stuff, and we were amazed how well the boat sailed and was behaving in a long distance race. I am very, very happy about this amazing race.”

    Crossing the finish line at 01:11:44 UTC (11 Jul 21:11:44 EDT) was Stella Nova, the Class 40 winner. Class 40s are built for ocean racing, so the big conditions the boats experienced crossing the Atlantic were not overwhelming for her. Burkard Keese’s team, which includes doublehanded round the world sailor Jörg Reichers, performed exceptionally, finishing more than 180 miles ahead of Michel Kleinjans’ second-place Class 40, Visit Belgium.

    “It was a big victory for us. We expected to win, but not by that much,” admitted Keese. Of the final days of the race, he added: “There was a troug,h which was very difficult to cross, but other than that it was maximum boat speed, 18 to 24 knots for the last two days, which was amazing. When we arrived at Bishop Rock [off the Scilly Isles] the wind dropped down a bit, but we put the big spinnaker up and went through to the finish.”

    During the race, they lost one sail, the Code 0, near the finish. On another occasion while sailing under spinnaker, Stella Nova caught a giant rope towing cable around their keel that required the crew to drop the spinnaker and reverse up to remove the rope. “I have never seen such a big cable. That was the catch of the day!” as Keese put it.

    Otherwise Keese paid tribute to his crew and his Sam Manuard-designed Mach 40, built by JPS Productions in France.

    Crossing the line off the Lizard at 10:10:59 UTC this morning (06:10:59 EDT) was the Open 60 Grey Power, skippered by 76-year-old Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, who in 1969 became the first man to sail solo non-stop around the world. According to Sir Robin this is his 24th transatlantic crossing and hopefully there will be a few more to come. “I’m pleased to have beaten 11 days and Rambler and Comanche over the line,” he said.

    Sir Robin was sailing with a crew that included former RORC Commodore David Aisher and Dilip Donde, the first Indian to sail singlehanded around the world.

    The next 24 hours are set to be busy ones at the Lizard with Lloyd Thornburg’s Phaedo³ expected later this afternoon (British time) followed by the maxi-monohulls Comanche and Rambler 88 tomorrow. The outcome of the final podium placers in IRC Class 4 after the giant schooner, Mariette of 1915, will also be decided. This will be between three different generations of racing yachts – the 1930s S&S classic Dorade, the 1979 generation McCurdy & Rhodes 48 Carina and the more modern Oyster Lightwave 48 Scarlet Oyster.












    War Stories of the Giants
    Comanche Sets New 24 Hour Record
    (Saturday, July 11, 2015) – Since Bryan Ehrhart’s Lucky secured line honours in the Transatlantic Race yesterday afternoon (English time), two of the race’s largest boats have finished.

    Crossing the line off the Lizard at 21:30:21 UTC (17:30:21 EDT) last night, Clarke Murphy’s 100ft Nomad IV arrived second, after a tense 24 hours when she’d done well to close on Lucky.

    Navigator Mike Broughton explained: “We cut the corner a bit, but at the same time the last part was a bit light.” They were further hampered by sailing for the last 30 hours unable to use their big headsails because their halyard box had pulled off the mast during a crash round-up to avoid a semi-submerged container on Thursday.

    This was just one of a catalogue of technical problems Nomad IV suffered during the race, such as having to sail for all but the first two days without the hydraulics vital for most of her sail controls and filling her water ballast tanks.

    Clarke Murphy summarised their difficulties: “Luckily we have a lot of muscle on board. It is nice to have pictures on the website of people chain-ganging, but to gybe a 15-story high mainsail [without hydraulics], you have to prepare for an hour to make sure it goes perfectly and you have no power to grind things back in. We cursed a few times, but we got everything done super slowly, by being really well prepared and coordinated. But I’m not complaining. You have to deal with the hand you’re dealt.”




    Murphy praised Nomad’s crew and their problem-solving skills in learning how to use the traveller, main sheet, vang, etc. all without hydraulics. “Just before we finished we figured out how to unfurl the J2 [headsail] manually with someone at the top of the rig and someone at the middle of the sail. The determination to come up with solutions brought this group together.”

    Murphy’s most memorable highlight was screaming along in big wind and the Gulf Stream, making high daily averages early on in the race. His worst was getting disorientated and stressed, sailing at night in fog approaching Ireland.

    Third home on the water, finishing at 02:21:18 UTC, was Mariette of 1915, the biggest, heaviest and -- celebrating her centenary this year – oldest boat in this year’s Transatlantic Race.

    For the crew, sailing this ancient Herreshoff design, which measures 80 feet long on the water, 108 feet on deck and 138 feet overall, felt like history in the making. Mariette led the fleet east across the North Atlantic for the majority of the race, during which they cranked the 165 ton gaff schooner up to a top speed of 17.8 knots.

    Skipper Charlie Wroe explained: “All boats have their limitations, but you get on a boat like Mariette and she gets a rumble on and you feel it from your toes - it is pretty special. This boat is amazing to sail, she just keeps on giving. She is an amazingly competitive boat.”

    While yesterday’s forecast indicated that Mariette would finish in pressure ahead of a cold front, in fact the front stalled. They were faced with six hours of light winds yesterday evening and when the front did arrive, it only delivered 20 knots.

    Throughout the race, the crew were referencing the passage of American sailing legend Charlie Barr, the Russell Coutts of his day, who drove the 227-foot three-masted schooner Atlantic from New York to the Lizard (within 50 miles of the length of the present course) in a time of 12 days, 4 hours, 1 minute and 19 seconds during the New York Yacht Club’s Transatlantic Race in 1905. Sadly, Mariette finished just outside of this time.

    Mariette is lining up to claim the Classic class and IRC Class 4 on handicap.





    Comanche sets new 24 hour record
    In stark contrast to the two days they spent wallowing in no wind last week, a corridor of strong southwesterly winds straddling the breadth of the North Atlantic for the last 48 hours has provided last Sunday’s starters with conditions to cover huge mileage.

    A boat built exactly for this is Jim Clark and Kristy Hinze-Clark’s VPLP-Verdier designed 100-foot maxi Comanche, which this morning broke the monohull 24-hour distance record. In the period between 0530 UTC Friday and 0530 this morning, Comanche covered 618.01 nautical miles (or 25.75 knots average); however, it is important to note that this is subject to ratification by the World Sailing Speed Record Council.

    This betters the previous record of 596.6nm set by Torben Grael and the Ericsson 4 VO70 crew during the 2008-9 Volvo Ocean Race. Two Ericsson 4 crew, Tony Mutter and Ryan Godfrey, are sailing on board Comanche in the Transatlantic Race.

    “As a group, we are very excited about it,” confirmed skipper Ken Read, paying tribute to owner Jim Clark and his vision of high technology and amazing machines, as well as the designers, boat builders, crew and shore crew, that all contributed to the record. “This was the 100-foot boat that Jim Clark wanted: The fastest monohull in the world.”

    As to what it was like on board, Read added: “Our top speeds were into the mid-30s a bunch of times. It is not like you are surfing down a wave, you just go….fast. The boat is amazing! You sail it heeled over and it feels like you are right on the edge, but when you grab the wheel you are in control. The boat is a phenomenal piece of machinery.”

    On board the shorter Rambler 88, owner George David reckoned that they covered 587 miles over a similar period, “but for me that is my personal best. I did 584 on Rambler 100.”

    Despite communication being difficult over satellite phone from what sounded like a water-born war zone, David summarised: “We’ve been going along the bottom side of a low and we’ve had wind speed of 24-26 knots for almost 48 hours. Boat speed has been 25-26 knots, around 1.5 knots off Comanche’s pace, which is not unexpected given their bigger righting moment and stability.”

    David said that they have their special side foil deployed to leeward, and this has been helping to keep the bow out of the water. “It helps keep water off the deck but there is still a lot of water on the deck. When you are going 25 knots in these sea conditions, you are going faster than the wave train and you [go over a wave and] slam into the back of the next one.

    “Everyone is fine and everyone’s wet and it is a production getting foul weather gear on and off, but it is a good ride. I think it will back off in the next 12-15 hours, because we are slowly outrunning it.”

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    The Fast and the Furious Reach The Lizard

    (Monday, July 13, 2015) – A giant runway of strong southwesterly wind spanning the breadth of the North Atlantic for the last few days has allowed the grand prix boats competing in the Transatlantic Race 2015 to cover staggering mileage.

    While Jim Clark and Kristy Hinze-Clark’s 100’ maxi Comanche set a new monohull 24-hour record when she covered 618.01 miles over Friday-Saturday (subject to ratification by the World Sailing Speed Record Council), Lloyd Thornburg’s MOD70 trimaran Phaedo³ also put in a resounding performance.

    Towards the end of the race Phaedo³, at one point, recorded a peak speed of 41.2 knots when navigator Miles Seddon was driving. As Thornburg recounted: “The sea opened up before him. It was the biggest wave you have ever seen and we were pointing down it!” But it was the consistently big daily runs that were most impressive – four days at 610 miles/day and this was despite a generally short wavelength that required them to stack everything hard aft and have appendages and rig raked back to the maximum setting.

    While Thornburg competed in the Transatlantic Race 2011 on board his Gunboat 66 catamaran, his crossing this time in the MOD70 was an entirely different experience. “It was intense, like a time warp - it felt like four weeks at sea on any other boat all compressed into seven days. It is incredible; the boat is pure Formula 1,” he enthused of his team’s first race across the Atlantic with their latest yacht. “One of the hardest things was trying to live on board, which is a challenge psychologically and physically, day after day of slamming into waves, and with all the acceleration and the deceleration.”

    As testament to what a phenomenal boat the MOD70 trimaran is, according to skipper Brian Thompson, they broke nothing on the crossing despite the furious pace.




    Including a day and a half being becalmed, Phaedo³ crossing time of 7 days 2 hours and 4 minutes is not exceptional, but nonetheless establishes a new multihull race record, substantially faster than the previous Phaedo’s time of 12 days 15 hours 42 minutes and 58 seconds set in 2011.

    World’s Fastest Monohull

    Likewise for Comanche, which started 14 minutes after Phaedo³, light conditions early on the race ensured the boat’s crossing of 7 days 11 hours and 35 minutes was outside of Rambler 100’s record time of 6 days 22 hours 8 minutes 2 seconds from the Transatlantic Race 2011. Otherwise skipper Ken Read was overwhelmingly satisfied having claimed their other two stated goals prior to the race start: The 100-foot VPLP-Verdier design recorded the fastest monohull time in the race and, once her 24-hour record is ratified, can claim to be the world’s fastest monohull and the first singlehulled vessel to break the 600 mile/day barrier.

    Without the light patch at the start, Read states that the race record would have been “crushed.” “On a boat like this a five-day crossing would be attainable.” He also believes that on a different point of sail, a faster 24-hour passage would be achievable, possibly in the range of 650-plus miles.

    As with Phaedo³, Comanche was able to use her speed to select the wind speed in which she performed, in this case best, by staying in the southern part of the band of southwesterlies, where there was 25 to 30 knots of wind. “That is what boats this fast can do - that is modern sailing now,” commented Read. “You pick your spot which isn’t necessarily the windiest, but it is the spot where the boat can perform at its best.”

    Earlier this morning, Comanche stopped off in Falmouth to unload several crew who were due at another regatta, along with navigator Stan Honey who hit his head during a fall right at the end of their 24-hour record run on Saturday.

    “I know a lot of people are concerned for Stan, who, to set the record straight, whacked the back of his head when he slipped and fell in the central cabin area,” said Read. “He showed immediate concussion symptoms, but was never unconscious. He was monitored not only by our on board medics, but also by doctors off the boat, just to make sure that everything was done correctly.”

    Read says that after the incident Honey was confined to his bunk for six to eight hours, but for the rest of the race resumed his duties as Comanche’s navigator. “To be safe, early on we decided to get him off the boat right after the finish, so he could go through a concussion protocol at the local hospital in Falmouth. We will update you as soon as tests are complete.” There he was met by his wife Sally and Comanche’s owner and personal friend, Jim Clark.

    The Rest

    Aside from the ocean racing dragsters, arrivals in the Transatlantic Race 2015 have turned into a steady stream with 12 boats now finished.

    Crossing the line at the Lizard at 17:09:00 EDT (21:09 UTC) was Visit Brussels, second home among the Class 40s. She was skippered by singlehanded round the world racer Michel Kleinjans, sailing with two others.

    “It was text book,” said Kleinjans. “It was a really good downwind ride and in the middle there was a nice depression.” Unfortunately they had underestimated the depression’s size and Kleinjans, who has previously sailed a Class 40 round the world singlehanded, admitted that they found themselves too close to its center in 38 to 42 knots of wind. “The wind was okay, but the sea was so nasty that we had to take the mainsail down.”

    Visit Belgium was constantly on the back foot during the race after falling into a wind hole on the first day of racing. “It was a terrible mistake at the beginning. After that it was over and out,” said Kleinjans. Otherwise the boat held together well and the Belgian skipper was pleased with his Kiwi 40’s performance, especially over the final stages. “We did the last 1000 miles in three days. On the whole I think we averaged around 11 knots on a straight line so perhaps 12 on the water.”

    One of the hardest fought races has been for the final two Class 4 podium spots behind the giant schooner Mariette of 1915. This has yet to play out fully with Matt Brooks’ 1930s classic Dorade, winner of the 1931 Transatlantic Race in the hands of her designer Olin Stephens, still to finish, but looking strong to be second in class.

    A close battle for third has been taking place between Ross Applebey’s Oyster Lightwave 48, Scarlet Oyster, and New York Yacht Club Commodore Rives Potts’ McCurdy & Rhodes 48 Carina, being skippered for this race by Richard du Moulin. These two matched raced throughout the 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race, with Carina winning on handicap. This time Applebey exacted his revenge; finishing 7 hours, 1 minute ahead was enough to give Scarlet Oyster the edge on corrected time.

    The crew of Carina reported: “We pushed hard to narrow the gap between us and Scarlet Oyster. We have had a back and forth dog fight in the North Atlantic since June 28. With only a few days left in the race and the need to reduce our deficit from 60 miles to closer to 45 miles, we went to work. Mother Nature assisted us with a healthy serving of 20- to 35-knot southwesterlies.

    “Through hard work we managed to close the gap to Scarlet Oyster to 49 miles, just enough to beat them on rating. Unfortunately there was a price to be paid to King Neptune for holding these miles and King Neptune was gladly accepting spinnakers as currency. We ripped the clew out of the A5 and the head out of the A3 and our two heavy weather chutes. Missing these arrows from our sail inventory quiver we found ourselves at a significant disadvantage for the last 500 miles of racing. Congratulations to the Scarlet Oyster team.”

    Scarlet Oyster’s Ross Appleby was delighted by the result. “It is a charter crew so we have been working together towards this for a while.” According to Appleby they made their biggest gains two nights out. “We had a storming night - it was as black as the inside of a cow, but Matt [Lees] and I managed to keep the boat under the kite in about 45 knots, which was a good gain as Carina was backing off occasionally.”

    Like Carina, their Oyster Lightwave was also eating kites, and finished the race with just two, having blown up their first within 50 miles of the start. And, in an ironic twist, it was some pre-race bottom work done on Scarlet Oyster by the boatyard belonging to Carina’s owner, Rives Potts, which Applebey reckons made the difference to their result.

    STOP PRESS: On 13 July at 1310 EDT, just over one mile from the finish of the Coastal Race -- between the Lizard and Cowes -- Scarlet Oyster dismasted and subsequently drifted across the finish line with the tide to officially finish the race. No details are available at present as to the cause of the dismasting.
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