December 15th, 2014

Team SPIRIT OF ADVENTURE aboard the Volvo 60 finished the first ever RORC Transatlantic Race in the early hours this morning in Port Louis Marina, Grenada. After 14 days of racing the grey hull coasted around the bottom of the Island this morning to be the 6th boat to finish the race off of Morne Rouge Beach on the lea side of the Island. Five boats are still at sea with Nomad IV having commenced racing once again after pulling back into the Canary Islands for a repair to a broken boom on the newly launched Finot Conq 100′ racing machine.

This finish puts the team in second place in IRC Zero division, for the amateur crew who have never sailed together this was the event of a lifetime, a real bucket list item for most sailors and these brave men and women completed the course. The trade winds didn’t set in through this entire race due to constant storms further north in the Atlantic so this was strictly a downwind race, not optimal for a boat that was designed to reach but the team held if together and are now enjoying some R&R on the lovely Island of Grenada before returning home for Christmas.

Derek and the team will be at the Toronto and Vancouver Boat Shows in January to once again update visitors on the next round the world race as well as how the team training events available during the winter Caribbean season and spring time on the Atlantic.

Congratulations to the whole sailing team; Derek Hatfield, Chris Stanmore-Major, Grant Gordon, Mike Robbins, Gerry Vandergrift, Alan Rothenbush, Ed Rees, Mike Visser, Aurelie Cebe, Paul Chouinard, Michel Gagnon, Axel Hussein, Eric Gouin & Steefan Persoons.

Spinnakers at the Ready: Day Two – Morning Report

December 1st, 2014

The inaugural RORC Transatlantic Race, in association with the International Maxi Association (IMA), started on Sunday 30th November 1000 UTC from Puerto Calero, Lanzarote, Canary Islands bound for Grenada, West Indies, 2,995 nautical miles across the Atlantic Ocean.

After a competitive start the fleet have been battling through the first night to negotiate the fastest passage through the Canary Islands and into the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The entire fleet chose the northerly route through the channel between Lanzarote and Fuerteventura and once again north of Tenerife. The northerly route puts the fleet nearer the fresh breeze coming from the north rather than south where an area of little wind has developed. The rhumb line goes straight through Tenerife but the highest point, Mount Teide, has an elevation of 3,718 m (12,198ft), which would give a significant wind shadow to any yachts that ventured south.

IRC Canting Keel and Zero

Derek Hatfield’s Volvo 60, Spirit of Adventure, is estimated to be the early leader after time correction for the IRC Zero fleet. Rating far lower than the Maxi yachts in the class, Spirit of Adventure‘s lead is not surprising after less than 24 hours at sea; the Canadian team are highly experienced with six of the crew having raced the boat across the Atlantic before. The crew have settled in after a challenging first day at sea. “The sea state was pretty difficult after days and days of high winds”, said the Canadian skipper. “We are looking forward to the trade winds with the spinnaker at the ready”.

Jeremy Pilkington’s RP78, Lupa of London. have used their ‘wompa’ Code Zero to great effect, sailing high and fast across the top of Tenerife to take the overall lead on the water during the night. At dawn, Lupa of London was 40 miles from the last island, La Palma, achieving a boat speed over twice as fast as the Finot 100, Nomad IV, sailed by Jean-Paul Riviere. It will be interesting to see the tactics employed by Lupa of London at La Palma. Further behind, the young team on American Class40, Oakcliff Racing, have also altered course to follow Lupa of London‘s track.

IRC One, Two and Three

Aref Lahham’s Swan 68, Yacana, is the clear leader in IRC One and is currently estimated to be leading the race after time correction. Most of the team hail from Greece and have sailed with each other for years and this understanding was exemplified at the start, when a spinnaker peel was pulled off with precision, to gain a big advantage. During the first night, the wind speed and direction has been in a constant state of flux and Team Yacana may well have gained the lead through good sail changing decisions and slick crew work.

Last night, Yacana sent this message from on board: “We have good wind with a few slow moments, otherwise we are doing fine. Spirits are good, thank God no rain…We are leaving the Island of Tenerife eight miles on our port and plan to be in the open ocean in about 16 hours, then heading to Grenada. Cheers to all.” – S/Y Yacana.

A tremendous battle kicked off right from the start in IRC Two, Frank Lang’s French X 40, Optim’X, sailed intelligently to take the lead from Nigel Passmore’s British J/133, Apollo 7, at the start, which the French team held right along the coast of Lanzarote. Apollo 7, mainly crewed by friends from Plymouth, took a slender lead after passing the southern tip of Lanzarote and unfurled their Code Zero to open up a three mile lead on their rivals by dawn. Optim’X has a small rating advantage over Apollo 7 and this may develop into one of the closest battles in the RORC Transatlantic Race. Denis Villotte’s French JNP 12, Sérénade, is currently bringing up the rear, but estimated to be fourth overall after time correction. The twin keel design is the smallest and lightest yacht in the race and, with just three crew on board, is more suited to the downwind conditions that should feature in the race over the coming days.

Nigel Passmore reports from the course on Apollo 7: “We are round the top of Tenerife and en route to La Palma with a welcome to offshore Atlantic sailing more like the English Channel! Rain, waves and wind shifts. Still heading in the right direction with a good breeze. Crew are happy and settling in. Very much waterline length at the moment.”

Sail choice and boat handling have been the major factors to performance at this early stage in the race. Getting into the open waters of the Atlantic first pays high dividend as more wind is expected for the leaders. Just a few hours difference can turn into enough miles for leading yachts to disappear over the horizon. All of the fleet should pass La Palma into the Atlantic today, raising spinnakers which should be flying for the foreseeable future. After days of confused weather systems, the Trade Winds are forecast to re-establish over the coming days. Downwind racing, surfing down Atlantic rollers with the sun on your back – it doesn’t get a lot better than that.

And They’re Off Across the Atlantic

November 30th, 2014

After two delays to the start due to horrendous weather conditions, the RORC Transatlantic Race in association with the International Maxi Association started from Puerto Calero Marina at 1000 UTC, Sunday 30th November.

It was third time lucky as the RORC fleet departed Puerto Calero Marina, Lanzarote bound for Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina, Grenada West Indies, 3000 miles away across the Atlantic Ocean. Rain squalls had been disturbing the air in the early hours of the morning, but virtually nothing would have prevented the eager fleet to set off on the inaugural RORC Transatlantic Race. Sunshine and a gentle northerly breeze prevailed for the start – the only abnormal weather feature was a perfect double rainbow, pointing the way to the turning mark off Marina Lanzarote, Arrecife – the only mark of the course before the fleet would make landfall in Grenada.

American Class40, Oakcliff Racing, skippered by Hobie Ponting, got away well and took an inshore line to take the lead. However, the young team from Rhode Island were soon overhauled by a trio of Maxi yachts; Jean-Paul Riviere’s French Finot 100, Nomad IV, Russian Southern Wind 94, Windfall skippered by Fabrizio Oddone and Jeremy Pilkington’s British RP78, Lupa of London.

The rainbow was not the only surreal experience at the start, a fleet of young Spanish Optimist sailors had decided to use the yellow inflatable turning mark for a training session. However, three loud blasts from the coach’s whistle recalled the young sailors to a safe position, as humming deck gear and huge sail area, announced the imminent arrival of the Maxi fleet. No doubt the young sailors will tell the tale for years to come.

Five hours into the race, Nomad IV had rounded the southern tip of Lanzarote just ahead of Windfall and Lupa of London. Derek Hatfield’s Canadian Volvo 60, Spirit of Adventure was leading the chasing pack. Frank Lang’s French X-40, Optim’X showed impressive speed, making the turning mark in the company of Class40, Oakcliff Racing and ahead of Nigel Passmore’s British J/133, Apollo 7.

Quotes from the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race

Optim’X skipper, Frank Lang is taking part in his fifth Transatlantic race:

“I wanted to participate in this new RORC adventure and to share the experience with sailing friends,” commented Frank. “We’re looking forward to some fun racing and competition and to the long spinnaker surf rides bought on by the trade winds. It will be interesting to compare our result on corrected time with the big boats in the fleet.”

Don José Calero, President Calero Marinas:

“It has been an absolute pleasure to see the impressive racing machines for this inaugural RORC Transatlantic Race in Puerto Calero. We have enjoyed hosting the crews and helping them to discover our incredible island of Lanzarote and we are pleased that they seem to have appreciated everything that Puerto Calero Marina has to offer.”“We would like to thank Eddie Warden Owen and the RORC team for choosing Puerto Calero for what we very much hope will become an established and popular annual event and we are already looking forward to next year for the second edition of the RORC Transatlantic Race.”

RORC CEO, Eddie Warden Owen:

“Just over two years ago, the RORC decided to start a transatlantic race and it is just fantastic to see these yachts away. I am delighted to see a really competitive start. They were all pushing very hard, even though it is an endurance test for them, I am very proud to see them all going especially after the amazing weather we have had this week. The plan has come together, we have 11 boats for the first edition, but this race will grow and become a classic in the future.”

RORC Transatlantic Race: Special Delivery

November 26th, 2014

The inaugural RORC Transatlantic Race, in association with the International Maxi Association (IMA), starts on Saturday 29th November from Lanzarote bound for Grenada, 2,995 nautical miles across the Atlantic Ocean. All of the competing yachts are now safely moored in Puerto Calero Marina.

Derek Hatfield’s Volvo 60, SPIRIT OF ADVENTURE, left Lunenberg, Novia Scotia, Canada on 9th November with eight crew on board for the 2,800 nautical mile delivery across the Atlantic to Lanzarote, which took 14 days.

Sensation Class40 was delivered to Lanzarote with a crew skippered by Marc Lepesqueux who has completed the Route du Rhum on two occasions with the Pierre Rolland designed Class40. Sensation left Diélette near Cherbourg, France on the 15th November with a crew of six for the 1,500 nautical mile delivery to Lanzarote.

Oakcliff Racing, the other Class40 skippered by Dan Flanigan, left Southampton, England on the 7th November with a crew of five for the 1,500 nautical mile delivery to Lanzarote. The team from the Oakcliff Sailing Academy are all under 27 years old and making their first Atlantic crossing.

Dimitri Tsallis, Boat Captain on Swan 68, Yacana, left Piraeus, Greece on 1st November for the 2,100 nautical mile delivery to Lanzarote with a crew of five.

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