Class 40s Go Transatlantic: Little Boats, Big Ocean, Intense Competition

10172733 751466758209489 5626815188355576799 nThe maxi yachts get all the attention in the marina. But on the racecourse for the Transatlantic Race 2015, from Newport, R.I., to England, the most interesting battle could well be amongst the smallest boats in the fleet.

The six Class 40 yachts entered in the race will compete as part of the IRC Division and as part of their own sub-class, where they’ll race boat for boat across the Atlantic.

“One hundred percent of my focus will be on winning the Class 40 Division,” says veteran Class 40 skipper Michael Hennessy (at right, foreground, during the 2014 Atlantic Cup) who will race his boat Dragon. “The box-rule boats are so closely matched, and the various skippers are formidable enough, that if you place well amongst the Class 40 boats then you are going to do well in the overall fleet.”

Sailing Heavyweights To Battle Across the Atlantic in 2015

ComancheComanche. Photo by Onne van der WalAs the skipper of two successful race boats named Rambler—90 and 100 feet long, respectively—George David has been the favorite for line honors in most of the long-distance yacht races he has entered during the past decade. But this will change next July when David skippers his third Rambler, a soon-to-be-launched 88-footer, in the Transatlantic Race 2015. The boat could well be faster than either of his two previous yachts. But, in terms of raw speed across a range of conditions, David’s boat will find itself looking up at Jim Clark’s 100-foot Comanche [right, off Newport, R.I.], which will be skippered by two-time Volvo Ocean Race skipper Ken Read.

This time, as David notes with a smile, "We're the little boat."

The Transatlantic Race 2015 will start from Newport, R.I., in late June and early July of 2015 and finish some 2,800 miles away, off the southwestern tip of England. The race, which was last sailed in 2011, is being run by the Royal Yacht Squadron and New York Yacht Club in association with the Royal Ocean Racing Club and Storm Trysail Club. 

An international field of more than 50 boats from 40 to 290 feet in length is expected to take part in the 2015 race. A handicapping system will afford each yacht, regardless of speed potential, the opportunity to compete for overall honors.

Transatlantic Race 2015 Fleet Expanded Due to Significant Interest

Three years ago, 26 boats started—and finished—the Transatlantic Race 2011, from Newport, R.I., to the south coast of England. Anticipating greater interest in the Transatlantic Race 2015, race organizers—the Royal Yacht Squadron, New York Yacht Club, Royal Ocean Racing Club and Storm Trysail Club—set an early limit of 50 entries, which now looks to be well exceeded. A particular feature of the 2015 event is its coincidence with the Squadron's 200th anniversary celebrations and races.

A fleet of more than 50 boats has already registered, with another 50 yachts indicating interest. The early entry discount expires on September 15, and the first of three staggered starts takes place off Newport on June 28, 2015. “It’s great to see how many sailors have signed up,” says event co-chair Patricia Young, of the New York Yacht Club. “Given the evident interest, the organizing clubs have waived the fleet limit.”

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