Transatlantic Race 2015 Now in the History Books

(July 31, 2015) – If the Transatlantic Race 2015 were easy, to borrow a popular expression, it wouldn’t be nearly as worthwhile an experience. So the energy level was high last Friday, July 24, as competitors, race officials and dignitaries gathered at the Royal Yacht Squadron’s Castle, in Cowes, England, to honor the winners, recount a few sea stories and celebrate the shared experience of racing across one of the planet’s least hospitable bodies of water.

A nearly 50 percent increase in entries from 2011, the last time this race was run, shows that interest in long-distance blue-water racing remains high. The six starters that failed to finish due to a variety of technical issues are an equally strong indication that despite modern materials, construction techniques and communication technology, racing from Newport, R.I. to The Lizard off the southwestern tip of England isn’t getting any easier.

“The weather was the dominant feature of the race,” said Event Co-Chair George David,  New York Yacht Club, who also raced in the event onboard his Rambler 88. “For the [Start 2] starters, they had great wind the whole way across, in some cases more wind than people wanted.”

Bryon Ehrhart’s Reichel/Pugh 63 Lucky had the boat speed and crew to take best advantage of the favorable conditions afforded the 20 boats in the second of three starts, a feature of this race designed to group the finishers a little more closely together. Blasting away from Newport in a stiff southwesterly breeze, Ehrhart and his team rarely strayed too far from the rhumb line. The 100-year-old schooner Mariette of 1915 and the 100-foot super maxi Nomad IV were both contenders to be the first boat across the finish line, butLucky held them off, putting down a time that, once corrected for handicap, would prove impossible to beat.

“The whole crew worked so well together,” said Ehrhart, a Chicagoan who previously had success with a 52-foot boat of the same name. “I grew up as a golfer. This is, in my view, one that we prepared a lifetime for; this is like the Masters. It’s humbling to have such a great crew perform as high as they did to get to this spot.”

Overall elapsed time honors went to Lloyd Thornburg’s 70-foot trimaran Phaedo3(7d:2h:4m:5s) and Jim Clark and Kristy Hinze-Clark’s Comanche (7d:11h:35m:11s), which was skippered by Ken Read during the race. Early in the race, a full day of fighting through drifting conditions put any hopes of a course record out of reach. But when the breeze did fill in, the four boats that comprised the final start reveled in the conditions. Comanche set a new record by sailing 618.01 miles in a 24-hour period, becoming the first monohull to break the 600-mile barrier.

“This was the 100-foot boat that Jim Clark wanted: The fastest monohull in the world,” said skipper Ken Read. “Our top speeds were into the mid-30s a bunch of times. It is not like you are surfing down a wave, you just go…fast. You sail it heeled over, and it feels like you are right on the edge, but when you grab the wheel you are in control. The boat is a phenomenal piece of machinery.”

The final two finishers were Dizzy, a 48-year-old yawl that started with the first group and completed the longest crossing in the race at just more than 20 days, and Persevere, a four-year-old sloop that started with the second group, but turned around for a repair not long after the start and missed a crucial weather window. Both boats, however, finished in high spirits and, not coincidentally, in time for the final party. Among the crew on Perseverewere 14-year-old Breana Rath, the race’s youngest participant, and Wasabi, the family cat.

The next running of the Transatlantic Race is scheduled for the early summer of 2019. While the transatlantic course was one of the first offshore courses to be contested—the first race starting from New York in December of 1866—it never settled a regular schedule or a consistent group of organizing clubs until very recently.

“The committee likes the idea of this four-year sequence,” said David. “It seems about the right cadence to get enough boats interested and wishing to do it. The preferred format is to run this race collectively by the Royal Yacht Squadron, the New York Yacht Club, the Royal Ocean Racing Club and the Storm Trysail Club. It is a good format with four great clubs, and it seems like we have run a good race and everything works pretty well. I expect we’ll see that back in 2019.”

Sponsors for the Transatlantic Race 2015 are Rolex, Newport Shipyard and Peters & May.

Wrap-up video of the Transatlantic Race 2015

Podium Positions on Corrected Time:

IRC Overall:
1. Lucky, 13d 11h 7m 41s
2. Outsider, 13d 16h 51m 51s
3. Mariette of 1915, 14d 8h 39m 48s

IRC Class 1:
1. Rambler 88, 14d 11h 38m 10s
2. Comanche, 14d 18h 40m 59s

IRC Class 2:
1. Lucky, 13d 11h 7m 41s
2. Outsider, 13d 16h 51m 51s
3. Grey Power, 15d 17h 6m 29s

IRC Class 3:
1. Snow Lion, 14d 21h 44m 0s
2. Maximizer, 15d 12h 59m 30s
3. Prospector, 15d 16h 39m 4s

IRC Class 4:
1. Mariette of 1915, 14d 8h 39m 48s
2. Dorade, 14d 22h 12m 53s
3. Scarlet Oyster, 15d 2h 34m 18s

Class 40:
1. Stella Nova, 10d 7h 11m 44s
2. Visit Brussels, 11d 3h 9m 0s
3. Dragon, 11d 20h 12m 7s

Cruising:
1. Lady B, 16d 22h 14m 46s
2. Zephyr, 17d 10h 35m 51s
3. Charisma, (still to finish)

Classics:
1. Mariette of 1915, 14d 8h 39m 48s
2. Dorade, 14d 22h 12m 53s

Open Class (MOCRA):
1. Paradox, 12d 7h 33m 33s
2. Phaedo3, 13d 23h 12m 15s

Fastest multihull (elapsed time): Phaedo3 7d 2h 4m 5s

Fastest monohull (elapsed time): Comanche 7d 11h 35m 11s

Full results are available here: http://bit.ly/1MaABwd

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