a big deal

a big deal
Designer Merfyn Owen adds some compelling comments on the upcoming Atlantic Cup…

This is as big and as competitive a fleet as we get in Europe for races like the Fastnet, Normandy Channel Race, even the Worlds/Mondial. This is a BIG deal whichever way you cut it, but for the US it’s indeed awesome. Hugh and Julianna have done a fantastic job to provide this event for the sailors to compete in. I hope they get the support off the water as much as on it to help ensure that this becomes as fixed in the Class 40 calendar as the Route du Rhum, TJV and Chocolat – the races that have fed the European boats to this event.

These are not just any fifteen Class 40s, of the fifteen, there are eleven third and fourth generation boats, the latest of which was launched only this year, the US flagged Boadacious Dream. There are also some of the most experienced Class 40 pro sailors from Europe on the boats, Joerg Riechers (winner of the Chocolat du Solidaire), Marc Lepesqueux (Mini Transat winner and Joerg’s crew), Halvard and Miranda (Whitebreads, Volvo and five years in Class 40’s). I could go on and on naming the other yachties with significant time/victories in Mini, Figaro and Class 40s.

Although there are ‘only’ five of North Americas sixteen Class 40’s in the race, there are eleven US sailors on seven boats leaving Charleston. When I step off Dragon in New York that’ll increase to twelve and this includes US sailor Jesse Naimark-Rowse who (on our 2009 40 Degrees design) placed third in last years Transat Jacques Vabres, the best performance in any Transat in this Class by a US sailor so far. North American (because there are three Class 40’s in Canada let’s not forget the Canucks) sailors doing all these miles on this kind of boat is a huge step forward for short-handed offshore sailing on the ‘other side’ of the Atlantic. I say this because it seems to me that the class and the short-handed discipline in North America now has the critical mass and the momentum to carry itself forward. Amazing, given the times we’re living in. More boats and owners need to be attracted still (particularly on the west coast) and it’s key that races like the Atlantic Cup are supported by home boats and that as much as possible pre-chosen events are attended ‘en masse’ rather than the fleet dispersing and showing up to a wider range of regattas in ones and twos. This communication is already happening and of course it’s Rail Meat’s enthusiasm for the class that’s making that happen.

This is going to be a great fleet to sail in. I hope SA people and other come down to see the boats in Charleston, NYC and Newport. On a personal note, people who know me know I never get ‘excited’ until twenty four hours before a race, even a big event like the TJV I did with Kip. However, I am this time. Besides the usual challenge of sailing in such a great fleet, I love Charleston and I’ve already imagined in my minds eye racing past the statue of liberty for the first time into New York harbour. Christ, it’s going to be great ! You don’t get fog there this time of year do you? Atlantic Cup.