Comanche Going For Transatlantic Record

Published on July 22nd, 2016

(July 22, 2016) – Comanche, the 100 foot racing yacht owned by Jim Clark and Kristy Hinze-Clark, will depart this evening from New York (USA) and point her bow East to Britain as the record-breaking monohull takes on the Atlantic in a bid to continue breaking world records.

An exciting weather window has opened up which promises fast conditions with strong wind, great angles and flat seas all the way to Europe. With Comanche skipper Ken Read committed to TV commentating at the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series in Portsmouth, England, over the weekend, the world class crew will be led by experienced sailors Casey Smith, Tony Mutter, Richard Clarke and Navigator Stan Honey. Due to other commitments, Comanche will also be missing regular crewmen Kelvin Harrap, Warwick Fluery, Jimmy Spithill and Ryan Godfrey.

North Sails President Ken Read, speaking from the America’s Cup event in the UK, said, “A fantastic weather window has opened up for Comanche to take on the Atlantic. We have been on standby for a few weeks now and have almost left on three separate occasions since the end of June, and each time we have had to piece together a different team based on who is available, before the weather fizzled out and shut down those attempts. But now the right conditions have presented themselves.

“On a personal level the timing couldn’t be worse as I am committed to my role as TV commentator for the America’s Cup and am on the wrong side of the Atlantic to jump on the boat with the crew, as are key crewmembers such as Kelvin, Jimmy, Warwick and Ryan. But that is life sometimes. It is very difficult to plan a record attempt, so different from a regatta that is scheduled on a very specific date. But this program, put together by the Clark’s, has always been about their core belief in The Team. Under the guidance of Casey, Stan and a crew boasting some of the best sailors in the world, Comanche is in perfectly good hands and if the weather cooperates, they will do it.”

Speaking ahead of the departure, Comanche owner Jim Clark stated, “Comanche was built to break records – she has already proven her potential in major events all around the world and this looks to be a great opportunity to continue her legacy. It’s a real shame her skipper Ken Read and other key crewmembers will have to miss this ride but he and I will both remain in close contact with the guys onboard. The crew is made of some of the best sailors in the world who all have great pedigree. I have a good feeling about this attempt.”

The highly experienced Navigator on Comanche, Stan Honey, identified the window of opportunity for the crew “The current weather models are giving us ideal conditions to potentially beat the record if everything develops as forecast. Whilst the patterns look perfect for now, with flat seas and a great angle with strong winds to power us across the Atlantic, as ever we are always at the mercy of changing weather, so we’ve got everything crossed. All in all now is the time to go if we are to take on the record this summer.”

The current monohull transatlantic record from West to East (Ambrose Lighthouse to Lizard Point) is 6 days 17 hours 52 minutes and 39 seconds, set by Mari Cha IV in October 2003. In 2015, Comanche set the 24 hour monohull distance record of 618 miles as they raced across the Atlantic (at an average speed of 25.75 knots).
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The boat will sail with only 17 crew and with all manual powered winches and hydraulics for this record attempt:

Casey Smith (AUS), Boat Captain
Stan Honey (USA), Navigator
Tony Mutter (NZL), Trimmer
Dirk de Ridder (NED), Main Trim
Chris Maxted (AUS), Boat Crew
Jon von Schwarz (USA), Grinder
Juggy Clougher (AUS), Bow
Julien Cressant (FRA), Pit
Nick Dana (USA), Bow
Pablo Arrarte (ESP), Runners
Pepe Ribes (ESP), Bow
Peter van Niekerk (NED), Trimmer
Phil Harmer (AUS), Grinder
Richard Clarke (CAN), Runners
Robert Greenhalgh (GBR), Main Trim
Shannon Falcone (ATG), Grinder
Yann Riou (FRA), Media



“Spindrift” ex “Banque Populaire” on standby for an Atlantic record.

Spindrift 2: All dressed up but no wind to go

The maxi-trimaran Spindrift 2 left La Trinité-sur-Mer, France on May 26, arriving on June 3 in Newport, Rhode Island where the team has remained on standby to break the crewed 2880 nm North Atlantic record from New York to Lizard Point.

Led by co-skippers Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard, they seek to better the record of 03:15:25:48 set by their 40m (131.23-feet) trimaran in August 2009, known then as Banque Populaire 5. To be successful, their average speed must be in excess of 32.94 knots over the distance.

But now, after seven weeks on standby in Newport, there has still been no suitable weather window for which to launch their assault. As Guichard explains, these accomplished sailors have no choice but to accept the wait, unusual as it may be for an elite sportsman.

“Despite enduring the standby at home, as opposed to on the quayside, we are fully alert and mentally ready to drop everything and jump on a plane as soon as possible,” explains Yann, who sends a message to his teammates every day to keep them informed about the latest conditions.

“Dona and I are obviously following the weather very closely. Together, with team navigator Erwan Israël, we check the two daily American and European forecast updates. The first come in before 5am and, whilst there is still not really a departure window on the horizon, we inevitably check each weather update religiously. We are as ready as we can be with a good technical and sporting potential, but the weather is out of our hands. That is what makes record attempts so frustrating…but also so special. When you are on standby, it can at times be stressful, as any athlete waiting for a big match can understand. In addition, we know that when the day of reckoning comes, once we get out on the ocean, conditions will be extreme.”

Among the obstacles blocking the route has been drift ice in the Labrador Current. A harsh winter has meant that icebergs are lasting longer than normal, and while they are slowly melting, the large ice sheets are only disappearing gradually from satellite photos.

The other obstacle has been the Azores High, an anticyclone centred over the Azores and spread like an insurmountable mountain across the entire North Atlantic.

“To make the crossing in record-breaking conditions you have to leave ahead of a depression on the American coast and ride it up to Newfoundland, where you pick up another and accelerate for the rest of the crossing. You then have to stay in front of the system, which must not catch you up or wane before you reach the finish line,” adds Erwan Israël. “With such a huge, powerful anticyclone at the moment, the depressions are not making any headway, and neither can we!”

The team is prepared to remain on standby through to mid-August if necessary to find a suitable departure window. Updates here:


Francois Joyon has broken the singlehanded transatlantic record by over 16 hours. The new record is 5 days 2 hours 56 minutes and 10 seconds; not quite setting a new 24 hour record in the process.


Yesterday I was called over the line early on a start. Traffic was heavy so I was watching the bowman. As you see he has his thumb up (the red and yellow boat). I won’t argue for a moment that we were on the line but the boat to leeward was bow out on us. Oh well, as the saying goes ” you’re not trying unless you’re over on occasion”.



First, an update, Maserati, skippered by Giovanni Soldini, is ahead of the transatlantic record set by Mari Cha IV.

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