Please select your home edition
RS Sailing 2019 - Leaderboard

Prospector team to mine for more golden moments in Transatlantic Race 2019

by NYYC 8 Feb 2018 13:04 PST 25 June 2019
Mills 68 - Transatlantic Race © Daniel Forster / Rolex

Faster boats and advanced weather forecasting technology have dramatically changed how sailors approach long ocean races such as the Transatlantic Race 2019, which will start from Newport, R.I., on Tuesday, June 25, 2019, and finish off the Royal Yacht Squadron's iconic castle in Cowes, England.

A century ago, ocean racing was a reactive sport, sailors took what Mother Nature dished out as it came. Now, bigger and faster boats enable teams to attack a course, aggressively searching for the strongest and most favorable winds. Of course, it's not without risk.

In the Transatlantic Race 2015, the Prospector team found itself on the leading edge of a powerful weather system for much of the 3,000-mile passage from Newport, R.I., to England.

"We always had good pressure and knew when we needed more it was just off to our left," says Paul McDowell, one of a consortium of owners based out of Eastern Long Island's Shelter Island Yacht Club. "Playing with that weather system, which we took to calling 'poking the bear,' was tricky though. For one 36-hour period we got a little too close and ended up sailing in some really difficult conditions; 40- to 50-knot winds with huge breaking seas. In those 36 hours, we learned a lot about the boat, our crew and what not to do next time. We all look back on that now with mixed degrees of fondness and relief to have survived it."

For ocean racers, the relief peaks when crossing the finish line, but the fondness grows slowly and eventually becomes the predominant emotion. Which explains why the Prospector team, with more than two years to reflect on that race, was among the first boats to officially sign-up for the Transatlantic Race 2019 and continue a tradition that dates back to the first transatlantic sailing competition, which started from New York Harbor on Christmas Day 1866.

The Transatlantic Race 2019 will be the 31st race between Europe and the United States organized, at least partially, by the New York Yacht Club. The Transatlantic Race 2019 is organized by the Royal Yacht Squadron, the New York Yacht Club, the Royal Ocean Racing Club and the Storm Trysail Club.

"Our original plan was to be one and done," says McDowell of the Prospector syndicate. "Indeed, we thought we might charter a boat, do only the Transatlantic and then have bragging rights in the Shelter Island Yacht Club bar for the next 10 years."

That changed quickly once the team found a boat—a 17-year-old Carroll Marine 60 perfectly suited for long offshore races. The campaign stretched to include races in Europe and the Caribbean in addition to all the classics in the Northeastern United States.

After two successful seasons, some of the original partners decided they'd had enough. But McDowell, Larry Landry and David Siwicki weren't quite sated. So they upgraded to a newer boat and set their sights on the next race across the Atlantic.

"Over the past several years we have been methodically checking off our 'bucket list' of the world's great ocean races," says McDowell. "But none compare to the challenge presented by racing full tilt across the North Atlantic. For a predominantly Corinthian team like ours, the Transatlantic Race 2019 really represents the pinnacle of offshore racing: it's tough, it's really long and it's very competitive. There really is something to say about racing across the full breadth of an ocean, from one continent to another."

While the new boat, a Mills 68, is just marginally longer than the first boat—and the same weight—it's a significantly more powerful raceboat and presents some new challenges.

"It's in another class entirely from nearly every standpoint: size, complexity, technology and power," says McDowell. "It's really a quantum leap from our last boat. We honestly believe that the boat we are sailing now is one of the finest offshore boats of its size anywhere in the world, and we are working at making her better. The challenge for us as a team is to learn how to get the most out of her in all conditions, particularly heavy air running like we saw in the last Transatlantic Race, without breaking the boat. We are getting the hang of it having won last year's Pineapple Cup against a very talented Wizard team, and setting the course record and winning overall in last summer's Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race."

In layman's terms, that means they'll spend more time poking a larger bear. But the unique rewards of the Transatlantic Race are more than worth it.

"There are so many unique moments, packed into 10 to 14 days at sea, that you can't possibly experience in the two to four days it takes to do most major offshore races," says McDowell. "A beautiful sunrise a thousand miles from land bracketed by leaping dolphins, a huge wave looming behind the boat with a breaking crest, the boat surfing hard with spray everywhere, eating a hot freeze-dried meal on deck while laughing with your watch mates about some silly movie line from Talladega Nights, the stars touching literally horizon to horizon with zero light other than the glow of the instruments, and your warm bunk after a cold, wet watch."

A Notice of Race for the Transatlantic Race 2019 can be found at

Related Articles

Transatlantic Race 2019 underway
Stormy first night ahead for the fleet At 1600 hours ET, four and a half hours after the final start of the Transatlantic Race 2019, the fleet of 13 yachts was south of Martha's Vineyard and was beating in 15 to 20 knots of south/southeasterly wind towards the first virtual mark. Posted on 25 Jun
Slow going across the pond
The experience could be slow for the Transatlantic Race 2019 fleet It would be nice to imagine that the 3,000-nautical-mile route for the west-to-east Transatlantic Race 2019 has changed little since pioneers from the New York Yacht Club braved the route from New York to Cowes via the Lizard back in 1866. Posted on 25 Jun
Transatlantic Race fleet on doorstep of start
Exclusion zones set, weather forecasts updated, boats stocked The exclusion zones have been set, the weather forecasts updated and the boats stocked with most of the victuals. All that remains is to get the 2019 Transatlantic Race started and that is scheduled to happen shortly past 1100 hours on Tuesday, June 25 Posted on 24 Jun
Askew Brothers hope to conjure victory with wizard
2019 edition of the Transatlantic Race begins onTuesday A clear favorite for overall honors and possibly line honors in the upcoming Transatlantic Race 2019 is David and Peter Askew's Wizard. The canting-keel VO70 will take the starting line next Tuesday with a widely experienced professional crew Posted on 21 Jun
Carina lines up for Transatlantic Race
The only three-time entrant The incident meant that Carina lost out on Class 4 honors by less than an hour. After more than 18 days of racing, a mere 54 minutes—0.2 percent of their race—is all that separated Carina from another transatlantic victory. Posted on 8 Jun
SHK Scallywag sets sights on Line Honors Trophy
A fleet of 15 yachts will set off from Newport, R.I. on 25th June In less than one month, on June 25, a fleet of 15 yachts will set off from Newport, R.I., on the 2019 Transatlantic Race. Among the entrants one stands out as a clear favorite for line honors in the 3,000-nautical mile race across the Pond – SHK Scallywag Posted on 31 May
Pata Negra looks toward yet another big adventure
Bringing offshore pedigree to the Transatlantic Race 2019 One of the most serious, privately campaigned British offshore race boats will be on the start line of the Transatlantic Race 2019 when the fleet sets sail from Newport, R.I., bound for Cowes, Isle of Wight, United Kingdom, on Tuesday, June 25. Posted on 20 Apr
Nakajima's Hiro Maru lends historical adornment
To the Transatlantic Race 2019 Ninety days from today—on Tuesday, June 25—a fleet of 20-plus yachts is scheduled to depart from Newport, R.I., and head eastwards across "the Pond" in the Transatlantic Race 2019. Posted on 27 Mar
JP Dick set for Transatlantic Race 2019
Vendée Globe veteran set for June event Few sailors, if any, on the starting line of the Transatlantic Race 2019 will have more offshore racing sea miles under their keels than Jean-Pierre Dick. Posted on 5 Mar
Prospector team digs in for a second go
Back with a new boat for the Transatlantic Race 2019 The Prospector team—led by Paul McDowell, Dr. David Siwicki and Larry Landry, and Marty Roesch and managed by Landry and McDowell—is one of five returning entries from the Transatlantic Race 2015. Posted on 19 Feb
Henri-Lloyd 2019 FooterNaiad 660x82px_SuperyachtGul 2018 October - Code Zero FOOTER