The first taste of the adventure, and the longest race I ever sailed. 3700 miles. I sailed my first Bermuda race and my first transatlantic race aboard “Guenivere”
The Transatlantic race to Spain started in Bermuda and was in stark contrast as the course crossed two high pressure zones. The boat that won sailed the isobars. I had argued the point to no avail aboard “Charisma” as it meant sailing at right angles to the course. Less than 24 hours after finishing we set out for Sardinia; for what would be the first Mediterranean Championship; winning every race with Bill Ficker steering.
Working backwards. Before the 2003 race my previous race was in 1975. Newport to Cowes, IOW. A Swan 48 named “Weald”. A fine sailing boat. We broke the headstay just off Nantucket in about 40 knots; the beginning of a strong low. We put into Marblehead and got a new headstay; restarted and managed to pass several boats.
This race was the second longest race I ever sailed. The start was once again in Newport, finishing in Hamburg, Germany. The course took us north of Ireland, Scotland and north of the Orkneys. Our time was 18 days 19 hours; I believe. Like every transatlantic race there are so many anecdotes that are associated with the race.
The 2005 Transatlantic race was organized for “big” boats. I sailed aboard “Tempest” the 80 foot ketch, around 125,000 lbs of displacement designed by Sparkman & Stephens; the second smallest boat in the race. I liked to tease that I earned my Chauffeurs license (driving an 18 wheeler). We were allowed help from off the boat, which meant we had a router; Pierre, was in Grenoble behind a computer and he really steered the boat. We won our class and I do not remember our overall position. Actually a great boat to sail, very sea-kindly. The finish was off the needles on the Isle of Wight. We finished in just under 14 days, I believe.
The 2011 Transatlantic race was very much the opposite of the 2015 race. 14 1/2 days instead of 11 1/2 days. A lot of frustrating light air. We still managed to hit 28 knots one day; however not nearly enough to overcome the light air. closing on the finish we were jibing every twenty minutes as the wind was shifting quite a bit. The finish was at the Lizard; which is pretty much a lovely field of cows grazing by the sea.
I have raced Dinghys, Big Boats around closed courses with bouys. I enjoyed it enormously. Distance racing is another thing altogether. You use what you learned around the bouys; this is where you are close to other boats and can tell if what you change is right or wrong. in the Ocean you have to have confidence that your choice is the right one. It is unlikely that there will be another boat against which to measure you choices.
I have raced across the Atlantic 9 times. the video below is the last race I sailed; and the quickest crossing ever; for me. I still smile at the memories evoked by the images. In order to have achieved this crossing we had a number of 300+ mile days.
The changes in sailing had been on the horizon for a while. The turning point we can all point to was the last America’s Cup with foiling catamarans.In the Vendee Globe, the boats which have foils are clearly faster.
I believe I read that Joyon cut the jig down on Idec for this attempt; making it an easier boat to handle. Just look at the numbers he is putting up.
“COMANCHE” CHOPPED OVER A DAY OFF THE TRANSATLANTIC RACORD. GREAT BOAT, GREAT CREW, BUT REMARKABLE ROUTING FROM STAN HONEY