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Transatlantic Race Start 2 on June 29

by Barby MacGowan on 29 Jun 2011
Start 1, Sunday, June 26 off of Castle Hill in Newport, Rhode Island. - Transatlantic Race 2011 Amory Ross / Transatlantic Race 2011 http://www.transatlanticrace.org

Transatlantic Race 2011.

The 14-strong group of yachts that will take the second of the three staggered starts, now have less than 24 hours until they begin the race across the North Atlantic for themselves.


The warning signal at 13:50 Eastern Daylight Time on Wednesday, June 29, will cue the largest group of yachts to depart, including the show-stopping Maltese Falcon, and spectators are guaranteed to see a unique sailing spectacle when the cannon is fired at Castle Hill Light.

Without doubt, tomorrow’s start will feature the most diverse battle of the race.  The Open Class has just two yachts, but they are two of the showiest yachts in the race. Maltese Falcon, at 289’, is the largest yacht competing and is up against the only multihull entered in the race, Phaedo, the Gunboat 66 owned by Lloyd Thornburg (St. Barthelemy).  The Lamborghini-orange catamaran and the futuristic Perini Navi will be a spectacular sight as they head off into the Atlantic.

In IRC Class Two, Jazz, a Cookson 50, has a star-studded crew including the highly experienced navigator, Mike Broughton (Hamble, U.K.), and skipper, Nigel King (Lymington, U.K.). 

Unfortunately, due to family commitments, owner Chris Bull is unable to make the trip. Two German teams on nearly identical yachts will also go head-to-head in the class:  Christoph Avenarius and Gorm Gondesen’s Shakti and Jens Kellinghusen’s Varuna should virtually match race across the North Atlantic.

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IRC Class Three will feature six yachts, including Snow Lion, the Ker 50 owned by former NYYC Commodore Lawrence Huntington (New York, N.Y.).  Snow Lion is a proven winner, having won her class in the Newport Bermuda Race, and should be highly competitive on corrected time. There are, however, some real fliers in this class, not the least of which is Zaraffa, the Reichel Pugh 65 owned by Huntington Sheldon (Shelburne, Vt.), whose crew includes several veterans of the last edition of the Volvo Ocean Race. 

The Volvo 60 Ambersail, skippered by Simonas Steponavicius (Vilnius, Lithuania), is a much-traveled yacht having logged over 100,000 miles since being purchased in 2008 to celebrate a thousand years of Lithuanian history. After sailing around the world, Ambersail took part in the 2010 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, winning class honors and placing second overall.

The youth entry from Germany, Norddeutsche Vermoegen Hamburg, will be helmed by Eike Holst whose third Transatlantic Race will be his first as skipper. And while the majority of the team aboard the Andrews 57 are university students in their 20s, two of the crew are just 18 years old. 

Many of sailors in the race were introduced to the sport as a family activity, which means the parents of these sailors, in particular, have a degree of understanding and ease with the undertaking at hand. That was not the case for Jerome Vigne, the Parisian-born mechanical engineering student who will have a very relieved mother welcoming him home to Germany.

Blending a comfortable interior with the performance of an Open 60 is Ourson Rapide, the Finot-Conq 60 owned by Paolo Roasenda (Vedano al Lambro, Italy). This is a special boat that should have a dream-like ride downwind. 

Scho-ka-kola, named for the German chocolate confection, is a Reichel Pugh 56 owned by Uwe Lebens (Hamburg) that has completed two previous Atlantic crossings.

Prodigy, a Simonis/Voog 54, is a proven winner. Owner Chris Frost (Durban, South Africa) took line honors in the 2011 Heineken Cape to Rio Race and will compete in the Rolex Fastnet Race, as well as the Rolex Middle Sea Race, as part of a year-long campaign.  Of the 10 crew on Prodigy, two – including Aaron Gillespie (Butler, N.J.) and John Fryer (New York, N.Y.) – were recruited by Frost using the 'Crew Finder' feature on the event’s website. It will be Gillespie’s first Transatlantic crossing.

The two smallest yachts in start two are both Class 40s: Dragon and Concise 2, the latter skippered by Ned Collier-Wakefield (Oxford, U.K.). Tony Lawson (Haslemere, Surrey, U.K.) assembled a crew of young aspiring sailors from Great Britain to make up Team Concise. The team has become a force to be reckoned with having won the 2009 Class 40 World Championship, set a world record for the Round Britain and Ireland course and taken class honors at the RORC Caribbean 600 for the last three years.

Dragon is the only boat racing across the Atlantic double-handed. Owner Michael Hennessy (Mystic, Conn.) has been an avid sailor ever since introduced to the sport by his father at the age of four on San Francisco Bay.

Following college, Hennessy logged thousands of miles cruising along the New England coast before he started to focus on short-handed distance racing in 2002.  Since then he has competed in four Newport Bermuda Races, as well as dozens of other races across New England. In 2008 he took notice of the fast growing Class 40 fleet and took delivery of his Owen Clarke-designed boat. In just two short years, Dragon has become a fixture on the ocean racing circuit.  Joining Hennessy will be co-skippered Rob Windsor (East Northport, N.Y.) who grew up sailing with his family on Long Island Sound. 

The first six yachts in Stage 1 departed on their Transatlantic Race 2011 two days ago.

Blog from Dawn Star:

'Dawn broke slowly as the fog we've become accustomed to engulfed us once again. The wind grew extremely light and we ghosted along in our own gray bubble; as best we could tell, the edge of the world was only one hundred feet away in all directions. If the world had been flat, we could easily have sailed right off the edge without ever seeing it.

We found the magic sail combination with our lightest spinnaker, set at close reach, with the main over trimmed to help the kite breath. Dawn Star is a heavy boat and while it takes her a while to get going, she also loves to coast along even when the wind dies. This is extremely helpful in conditions like the ones we've had since the start of the race. Driving with only a finger tip in the wheel, and concentrating on staying one step ahead of the wind in the sails allows us to make 3-5 knots of speed in only 3-7 knots of wind. At times the boat would coast along at 3.5 knots when the wind dropped to 1.5 knots.

The day became sunny for a while and the wind cooperated nicely, giving us better speed than we'd forecast last night. So far we're making good headway on our chosen course. What happens next will depend on how well the forecast plays out. Our northerly course above all our competitors should see us in better breeze sooner than the rest, but only time will tell.

Besides sailing the boat, we've had some other unexpected projects to take care of. While heating water for hot drinks, the propane valve decided to quit and we had no stove at that point. Not a good thing considering all the frozen and other food we're carrying that needs to be heated or cooked. Cam and Will got that resolved by hunting down a bad circuit connection and a blown fuse. Despite all the winch maintenance before the race, one of our running back stay winches had started complaining and on breaking it down, Jay discovered a broken roller bearing cage. That was resolved by packing a piece of nylon sail tie around the bearing shaft (see picture) and a prayer that this jury rig will keep the cage from working under load. Only time will tell... Next, we discovered that the fridge wasn't running. A bit more trouble shooting by Will and Cam to find the control box wasn't turning on. We suspect the culprit is a frozen relay, and I do mean frozen as all the dry ice in the box probably seized it up. We hot wired around the control box for now, perhaps it'll start working in a few days when the dry ice dries up.

Trying to get a little shut eye on the off watch can also be hard when there's a coast guard jet buzzing your vessel trying to see if you're a yacht they're looking for. We got on the radio with them to confirm our identity, luckily, we weren't the yacht in question. They raced off to continue the search and we heard them check in with our competition somewhere else. We hope they find the yacht they're looking for and everything turns out all right. At least we know it's not a vessel in the race.

We spotted dolphins and tuna but the most curious thing was an upturned sea boot, floating along on its own. There wasn't anything in it so hopefully the seaman that owned it is still on a boat somewhere else.'

Transatlantic Race website

Sponsors of the TR 2011 are Rolex, Thomson Reuters, Newport Shipyard, Perini Navi and Peters & May, with additional support by apparel sponsor Atlantis Weathergear.

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