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1 June 2005, 09:13 am
A 100 Year Old Record Is No More
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Rolex Transatlantic Challenge 2005

At 10:05:23 UTC, Mari-Cha IV, owned by Robert MILLER, crossed a gate at the Lizard in Great Britain to finish the Rolex Transatlantic Challenge in 9 days, 16 hours, knocking a full two and a half days off the existing record set in 1905, subject to ratification by the World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC).

Mari-Cha IV obliterated the oldest race record in sailing, that of the legendary Charlie BARR who raced Atlantic across the ocean in 12 days, 4 hours 1 minute and 19 seconds.

Mari-Cha IV navigator, Jef D'ETIVEAUD talked about the feeling onboard in a communication last night, 'There has been a lot of tension today with Maximus behind us matching every move we have made and keeping probably a bit too close for our liking. However, the tension has eased slightly this evening as our lead has stretched to 40 miles and the distance to the Lizard is now down to 160 nm. '

'Nevertheless, there is no complacency onboard Mari-Cha IV as this has only been today - what will happen tomorrow is still to be decided. So, for the moment, we are just concentrated on pushing the boat to her maximum, changing sails often to stay 'in the groove'- at moments where the boat is perfectly balanced, we are taking advantage of every bit of speed she can give us. This is quite a task on Mari-Cha IV as with our two masted schooner rig we have a (combination) menu longer than a Chinese takeaway!'

'Right now it's Code 0, Staysail, Full Main, MS2 (a sail we set between both masts) and full Mizzen. However, should the wind change a bit in strength or direction, then another combination would answer the demand - this is one of the great strengths of this rig setup.'

'Tomorrow [today - Ed] we hope to reach the Lizard in the morning, but then the race continues along the south coast of England for an other 150 miles, so it'd time for me to get back to what we came for...Racing.'

'This is my seventh transatlantic crossing, and I can safely say that it has been by far the toughest one for me,' MILLER confided. 'Not only has the weather been in our face for the first six days, making life extremely difficult, but since then we have always been sailing close to the limit, which means that there is the risk of hurting the boat and the crew.'

'At times, I've felt that perhaps the ghost of 1905, Charlie BARR, is looking down on us and enjoying every bit of hardship we are encountering. But there is not time to dwell on that, as we have a race to win. The competition has also been tough, but I must say enjoyable, Maximus and ourselves have spent the whole race running close together and have been, at times, only 15-20 miles apart.'

Despite Mari-Cha IV being 40 feet longer than the newly launched Maximus, the two boats have remained together as if attached by elastic, with the giant schooner regaining the lead on Sunday for the first time since sustaining damage to her rig. At 1248 UTC yesterday, Mari-Cha IV had Maximus still 30 miles astern with 390 miles to go to the Lizard. According to navigator Jef D' ETIVEAUD, she was making 20 knots, broad reaching/running in 20 knots of southwesterly wind. 'We are pushing the boat. We know that on this point of sail we and Maximus are very even,' he said, adding that despite last week's rig problems, they have once again been pushing the boat to 100%. 'Everyone is concentrating very hard, but as long as we can keep them a few miles behind, we are happy.'

While Mari-Cha IV and her crew may tomorrow be able to bask in the glory of having set the fastest race time to the Lizard, handicap victory in the Grand Prix class seems equally assured for Maximus, as the larger schooner must give the smaller sloop 79 minutes time per 24 hours. Given their present speed and separation, tomorrow morning might see the two boats finishing between 90 minutes and two hours apart on the water.

A majority of the fleet, from the front runners back, are now enjoying favourable 20-30 knot southwesterly winds, making for a much faster run than they have experienced to date.

In the match race of the Dubois designed 170 footers in Performance Cruising class 1, the sloop Tiara and its charterers from the Societe Nautique de Geneve remain ahead of the ketch Drumbeat. Leading, it is Chris GONGRIEPE's smaller Dutch spirit of tradition schooner Windrose on a course farther south than that taken by the Grand Prix maxis.

Some 450 miles astern of the 170 footers, Tempest, the 80-foot Sparkman & Stephens maxi chartered to Bugs Baer and William Hubbard III, is currently leading Performance Cruising class 2. Her crew is enjoying the ride, reports Bugs BAER, 'Racing in 30 knots is strenuous. We had a chute blow out, but it is already under repair and it should be back up soon. We've had some minor equipment problems. There are no injuries other than some aches and pain and strains. Everyone will arrive healthy I think. But it is tough going, hard steering, a lot of strains in the equipment. We have to replace the chafing gear on halyards and guys.'

This morning, Tempest was experiencing 27 knot winds and eight foot seas from the southwest, big enough to get some exciting surfs. Otherwise the Atlantic is a lonely place. 'We haven't seen any other boats for seven days,' said BAER. 'We had a conversation with a 30 foot boat that was racing from Barbados to the Azores. They saw a mast and called us, but we never saw theirs.'

For the Classics, A. Robert TOWBIN's Sumurun holds a 140 mile lead on the water over Dr. Hans ALBRECHT's Nordwind.

From on board Atlantic on day ten of the race for the Kaiser's Cup, Frederick HOYT wrote:

'Worse and more of it. On going on deck for the morning sight, it was blowing a whole gale from the southwest and a heavy sea was on the quarter. There were four oil bags strung at intervals along the weather side, but they did not seem to have much effect. The ship was under nothing but the squaresail and fore trysail in a heavy following sea with both quartermasters lashed to the wheel, and once in a while the whole quarter deck flooded with the top of a wave which would slop over the rail.'

Event Media (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Mari Cha IV is heading for Atlantic's record:© Event Media
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