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Leopard licks her wounds to win the RORC Transatlantic Race IMA Transatlantic Trophy

by Louay Habib / RORC 18 Jan 14:28 PST 18 January 2024
Winner of the IMA Transatlantic Trophy for Monohull Line Honours - Farr 100 Leopard 3 (MON) © Arthur Daniel / RORC

Farr 100 Leopard 3 (MON), skippered by Chris Sherlock has taken Monohull Line Honours in the 10th edition of the RORC Transatlantic Race. Winning the IMA Transatlantic Trophy, the international team of 17 celebrated dockside at Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina in Grenada. Leopard 3 completed the race in an elapsed time of 10 Days 17 Hrs 23 Mins 51 Secs.

"Leopard suffered a major setback just two days into the race. It wasn't a significant hit, but what was believed to be a whale, which badly damaged our port rudder, delaminating one metre up", explained Chris Sherlock. "We made a calculated decision on board to keep pushing on and to see if the rudder held, with options to pull into the Cape Verde Islands, or continue. The rudder held across the Atlantic and we have taken Line Honours, so we have achieved our goal. Our preparation for this race was really good; Gian (Ahluwalia) and his team did a terrific job getting the boat ready. Excluding the misdemeanour of the rudder damage on day two, we are very happy with how we sailed the boat."

Leopard's owners since 2018 were competing in their first transatlantic, and like all of the team, settled into the watch system to race with the professional crew. Leopard's owners commented dockside:

"We have competed with Leopard in several 600 mile races; the Aegean, the RORC Caribbean 600 and the Rolex Middle Sea Race. These races are two or three days long and the RORC Transatlantic Race was the next type of challenge. It is a life-changing experience to race across the ocean. The experience in the middle of the ocean is amazing, you are transcended to another place. Leopard 3 is super-exciting and thrilling.

"This has been an adventure with a crew of 17, with all the ups - like beautiful sailing, moonlit nights and going through the finish line; and there are the downs, like damaging the boat, 30 knot squalls. We have been building this team for five years; all of the crew are very capable and there is a tremendous atmosphere on board. The crew have crossed the Atlantic a huge number of times and we benefit from their knowledge, but you can really see their passion, and that is a big part of why we do this."

For this race, Leopard's tactician was Mitch Booth who was skipper for the 100ft Maxi Comanche for the record run in 2022.

"Every RORC Transatlantic Race is a different event, but this one was really quite unique," commented Mitch. "We had a huge weather system to the north which looked like a route that would really punish you. So, like just about all of the fleet, we went south, which adds a lot more miles to the race, and we had light conditions. So this was a slow race but very tactical and very enjoyable; even though we had damage, we still had a lot of fun."

So, when does Mitch Booth think we may see a showdown between Comanche and Leopard? "Comanche is going to be heading back to Europe this season," continued Mitch. "We will clash at a couple of events and go head-to-head; it's going to be a very interesting battle! Leopard has had such a big upgrade, giving a huge jump in performance, but Comanche is a weapon. It will be great to see two 100-footers at the top of their game in some big races."

Leopard 3 will be racing next month in both the RORC Nelson's Cup Series and the RORC Caribbean 600. For the inshore racing, Leopard 3 will have strong competition from Wendy Schmidt's phenomenal Botin 85 Deep Blue (USA). For the RORC Caribbean 600 Leopard's rival for Monohull Line Honours will be the 107ft Wally Spirit of Malouen X (FRA) raced by the Paprec Sailing Team and skippered by Stephane Neve.

The second monohull to finish in Grenada was Chris Sheehan's PAC52 Warrior Won (USA), which completed the race in an elapsed time of 11 Days 05 Hrs 18 Mins 29 Secs.

Follow the fleet and view rankings here: rorctransatlantic.rorc.org/tracking.

Live results available here.

For more information about the RORC Transatlantic Race: www.rorctransatlantic.rorc.org.

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