Alex JACKSON's Speedboat was first across the finishing at this year's Newport Bermuda Race, but it was George DAVID's Rambler and Australian entry Shockwave V who took line honours in Gibbs Hill and St. David's Lighthouse Divisions respectively.
On Monday morning at 9:12:56 Atlantic Daylight Time, Alex JACKSON's Speedboat crossed the finish line at St. David's light in Bermuda. Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Commodore Ralph RICHARDSON and Cruising Club of America Commodore Ross SHERBROOKE greeted the first boat to cross the line and the first to finish in the in the Open Class Division and her crew by delivering two bottles of champagne to the speediest boat in the fleet. Speedboat's total elapsed time was 64 hours, 42 minutes and 56 seconds.
Less than 18 months ago JACKSON and Mike SANDERSON started to shape their plan to design, build and fit out a super-maxi that would debut in the Newport Bermuda Race. Last Friday, Speedboat was in the limelight as her 99-foot long hull and towering rig waited for the start of the race. Within short order she passed the rest of the 198-boat fleet.
After leaving Newport with an upwind speed of 16 knots, SANDERSON relayed back to shore, "She is all very new and it is going to take some learning before we get 100% out of her, but there is no doubt in my mind that Speedboat is going to be a great boat."
Pouring over navigator Stan HONEY's data early in the race, SANDERSON and owner, JACKSON knew that this year's Newport Bermuda Race was going to be "tricky". Going into the Newport Bermuda Race, JACKSON, SANDERSON and yacht designer Juan KOUYOUMDJIAN, were hopeful that Speedboat and a dozen or so of the TeamOrigin America's Cup crew, would break the unofficial Newport Bermuda Open record of 48 hours, 28 minutes and 31 seconds posted by Hasso PLATTNER's MaxZ 86 Morning Glory in 2004.
Speedboat and her team wins the "First to Finish Prize" claiming line honours for being the first boat to cross the finish line, but as SANDERSON commented, "If a race record is surprisingly slow there is often a very good reason for it. It usually means that the race is sailed in a pretty tricky piece of water…"
This stretch of the North Atlantic proved to be just that. The team is convinced that Speedboat is capable of setting a daily pace of over 635 miles, which is the distance as the crow flies from Newport to Bermuda. With winds from the S and SE, the weather just did not "let us spend very long pointing at the mark!"
HONEY, Speedboat's command module pilot, commented, "The fleet was faced with a High as it headed toward Bermuda. There was a shift to the southeast, so we had to get east to have some runway to use up. We had a couple of good shifts coming into the finish." The Gulf Stream did not play a big part in the navigational plans for the boat. "It was faster to foot and let the boat go fast rather than to go hard on the wind and try to get to the warm eddy. With a big boat, you are just not in the Gulf Stream as long as the smaller boats."
Rambler Takes Line Honours in Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Division
As George DAVID was receiving his champagne for Line Honours in the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Division from Commodore Ralph RICHARDSON of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and Commodore Ross SHERBROOKE of the CCA, he was asked, "Where's Il Mostro?"
DAVID laughed, pointed over his shoulder and said, "That way."
The Puma crew aboard Il Mostro is all too familiar with Rambler, having sailed her in numerous offshore races before Il Mostro, their latest generation of Volvo Ocean 70s, which was christened on 22 April.
Rumour has it that there was a friendly bet between Rambler and Il Mostro skippers about who would beat whom in the race. Ken READ, Il Mostro's skipper is the usual race skipper aboard Rambler, first to finish of the two. Rambler crossed the Newport Bermuda finish line at 12:45:27 with an elapsed time of 69 hours, 5 minutes and 27 seconds. The 90 footer was the first to finish in the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Division, which includes professionally sailed boats with fixed keels. The St. David's Lighthouse Division is for fixed keelboats with amateur helmsmen and a limited number of professional crew.
The Puma crew crossed the line at 14:03:24 with the chairman of Puma, Jochen ZEITZ, at the helm. Il Mostro had a total elapsed time of 69 hours,33 minutes and 24 seconds and was the second boat to cross the line in the Open Division. This was ZEITZ's first race aboard the company's namesake ocean racer. ZEITZ teased READ and the rest of the crew throughout the race, saying that he had been told that they were tough sailors who could endure treacherous seas and weather, but spent most of their time on the beach. Said READ, "This was the most benign Bermuda Race that I have ever done but it was a perfect introduction for Zeitz."
Puma's Il Mostro is designed to the Volvo Ocean 70 box rule and tricked out with a canting keel and daggerboards. Said skipper, READ, "It's a shame that there were no other boats like us and we created our own race between a boat that is twenty feet longer than we are [Speedboat]. We are thrilled to have finished within a day of Rambler. The race was a huge success. We needed to do a distance race and work on communications, sail changes, watch systems, diesel systems and everything else that goes into racing a boat around the world."
Shockwave V Takes St. David's Lighthouse Division Line Honours
Although Shockwave 5 was the fourth boat to cross the finish line, she took line honours in the St. David's Lighthouse Division, the largest division in the regatta, representing 123 of the 198 yachts entered in the Newport Bermuda Race. Shockwave 5 arrived in Bermuda's aquamarine waters well before sunset on Monday evening. The Bermuda High may have bewitched and befuddled racers, but it sure was nice to arrive ashore in such beautiful conditions.
Originally launched as Neville CRICHTON's Shockwave in 2000, the Reichel/Pugh 80 was recently purchased by Australian Andrew SHORT. With the exception of two Americans, Peter DAVIS and Jan MAJER, SHORT's 17 member crew is from Australia. Like many of the big boats arriving in Bermuda, Shockwave 5 will have a quick turnaround as she prepares for her return 'Down Under' via the Panama Canal so that she can participate in the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week in late August.
Also finishing before sunset were Bella Mente, Hap FAUTH's Reichel Pugh 69; Roger and Farley TOWSES' Reichel Pugh 66, Blue Yankee; Roger STURGEON's STP 65, Rosebud/ Team DTY and Moneypenny, a Reichel Pugh 65 owned by Jim SWARTZ. Not far behind this group is Dan MEYER's Numbers and Norbert PLAMBECK's all-German crewed Hexe, the former Boomerang, the Frers 80ft maxi that won line and handicap honours for George COUMANTAROS back in 1996.
Newport Bermuda Race - www.bermudarace.com