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21 May 2007, 01:16 pm
Mean Machine Smashes North Sea Race Record
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ABN AMRO North Sea Regatta 2007
Scheveningen, Netherlands

On Friday evening on 18 May, the VO 70 Mean Machine of skipper and CEO Peter DE RIDDER (NED) smashed the record of the North Sea Race, organized by the Royal Ocean Racing Club and part of the ABN AMRO North Sea Regatta.
In last year's edition, the Formidable (a Lutra 56) of skipper Piet VROON (NED) set the fastest time so far, but DE RIDDER's 70 footer broke it by more than eight hours. The beast needed 11 hours, 3 minutes and 50 seconds to complete the 185 nautical miles between Harwich, Great Britain and Scheveningen, Netherlands. It never happened before that the winner of the line honours started and finished on the same day. Due to a strong southwester of 16 up to 32 knots, six out of 76 competitors broke the former record of 19 hours, 14 minutes and 38 seconds. The rough conditions caused 14 retirements, because of damage to the equipment, but there were no personal accidents.

A Quick VOR

'Dennis GOETHALS put it into the right words, as he called the crossing a quick Volvo Ocean Race tour,' said DE RIDDER. 'In 11 hours we have experienced many of the different aspects of the race, such as the importance of teamwork and boat development.'

After the starting gun on Friday morning in Harwich, the VO 70 ran off immediately with about 20 knots boat speed. The way she left the fleet behind was impressive to watch. Only the Formidable could keep up at least a little bit.

DE RIDDER said, 'She is a beast, but fun to tame down. It seems worse than it is, because she is easy to helm. Sometimes when you race it's like being a classically trained dancer…the moves are soft and elegant, like with the TP52, but racing like this is different. It's pure 'rock and roll', for sure! I have deep respect for the sailors who circumnavigated the world onboard of these 70 footers. We were with 16 crew members, but they only had ten persons for the heavy handling.'

Faster Time Possible

Team Mean Machine includes the experienced VO 70 sailors Dirk DE RIDDER (NED), Simeon TIENPONT (NED), Jules SALTER (GBR) and Jono SWAIN (RSA), who competed in the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-06. They are already on the Mean Machine racing team for the next edition. According to DE RIDDER, the North Sea Race can be sailed faster, 'In case the ABN AMRO ONE would have joined us, they would have crossed the line 30 or 45 minutes ahead of us. She has the best performance in the conditions we had. I think it must be possible to finish the North Sea Race within 10 hours. You do need some luck on the last leg towards Scheveningen, as the wind should veer a little bit on that track.'

In addition to his line honours, overall IRC victory and new record, DE RIDDER also celebrated his 61st birthday. 'It was my longest birthday ever, since we had to sail out at 02.30 hours am local time. Otherwise the water would have been too shallow for us.'

On Friday 2 5May, the ABN AMRO North Sea Regatta will continue with the inshores off the Scheveningen coast and the sailors' party in the harbour. The party tent is almost ready and the musicians are warming up. The fleet of about 500 competitors consists of dinghies, beach catamarans, Olympic and one-design classes, modern and classic yachts. They are divided over 21 classes and 5 courses.

Diana Bogaards (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Mean Machine:© Diana Bogaards
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