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Speedboat first to finish Newport Bermuda Race

ImageOn 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 Alex 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, Alex 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!' said Sanderson.

Stan 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.'

Commenting on Juan K’s breakthrough design and the team’s performance, Sanderson said, 'It was a tough forecast. We were always sailing into a high and lighter air. The race was a great opportunity to learn as much as we could about the boat. We are all really happy, the boat is performing well on its targets.'
Following the Newport Bermuda Race, Speedboat will head north and the crew will be on standby for the right weather window to scream across the Pond and try to break the Trans-Atlantic record. Alex Jackson, Speedboat’s owner said after the finish, 'I can’t wait to get the boat going on a long reach.'

Stop press: Rambler, the 90ft ILC maxi owned by George David, finished at 12:45:27 with an elapsed time of 69hrs 5mins 27secs to take line honours in the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse division.

Speedboat crew list

Owner: Alex Jackson, Skipper: Mike Sanderson, Navigator: Stan Honey. Crew: Justin Slattery, Julien Cressant, Ben Bardwell, Mike Howard, Andrew Henderson, Pawel Bielecki, Nick Bice, Jeremy Scantlebury, Chris Brittle, Robbie Naismith, Bob Wylie, Mike Mottle, Brad Read, Flip Wehrheim, Rob Greenhalg, Bill Erkelens, Chris Higgins, Chris Coulson, John Hilderbrand, Pete Manion, Neal McDonald, Matt Wackowitz, Cromwell Coulson, Juan Kouyoumdjian, and John Schinto


by Lynn Fitzpatrick
photo by ppl media - http://www.pplmedia.com
article source - www.sail-world.com

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