The 31st biennial Pineapple Cup – Montego Bay Race Presented by Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum is living up to its reputation as one of the marquee offshore sailboat races in the world by, once again, welcoming a fleet of high profile boats, both newcomers and veterans, to compete. Starting on February 8, just outside Fort Lauderdale, Florida’s Port Everglades, this ocean racing classic will take competitors on a challenging all-points-of-sail course, stretching 811 nautical miles to the legendary destination of Montego Bay, Jamaica.
“This has been called the most interesting race because you are almost never out of sight of land the whole time,” said Race Chairman Ken Batzer (Lighthouse Point, Fla.), adding that the iconic race was established in 1961 and has been running either annually or biennially ever since. The current race record was set in 2005 by Titan 12 with an impressive elapsed time of 2 days, 10 hours, 24 minutes and 42 seconds. “We have a real quality fleet once again this year and are hoping to have good weather.”
Past winners of the event include some of the most world-renowned skippers; Ted Turner won three times in Vamoose (’67), Lightnin (’73) and Tenacious(’79); the Johnson family won in Ticonderoga (’65); John Kilroy won twice in Kialoa (’75 and ’77); and Jack King won in Merrythought (’91). Past competitors taking line honors include Sir Peter Blake on Condor (’79), Larry Ellison on Sayonora (’97) and Roy Disney on Pyewacket (’99).
Return contender Tom Slade (Ponte Vedra, Fla.) took second place in the PHRF 1 class in 2011 with his Santa Cruz 52 Renegade and marks this year as his fifth Pineapple Cup. “It’s got to be one of the best ocean races in the world. Not only is it challenging but also the scenery is just unbelievable, and when you get to Jamaica, it’s like no other place. This race always has a very impressive fleet with a lot of great boats. We are going to try to sail well again this year, but more importantly, have fun.”
Event rookie, but veteran in the world of ocean racing, Michael Hennessy (Mystic, Conn.) will also be competing in his Class 40 Dragon. “We’d like to be competitive, have a lot fun and enjoy a new course with new surroundings,” said Hennessy, who already has an impressive resume when it comes to offshore sailing, including racing double handed aboard Dragon in the Transatlantic Race 2011.
This year, Hennessy will be sailing with a team of five. “We’re looking forward to matching up against the other Class 40 (MacKenzie Davis’ AMHAS) and racing handicap against the rest of the fleet.,” said Hennessy. “Our boat is pretty well dialed in right now and moving fast.”
The president of the USMMA Sailing Foundation, Ralf Steiz (Kings Point, N.Y.), sailed onboard the Pineapple Cup’s IRC Class winner, Genuine Risk, in 2011 and will be returning again this year with a new program, All American Ocean Racing, which prepares sailors, age 30 and under, for offshore racing. The team, which will be sailing the IRC 52 IceFire, hopes to race in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-2015 and includes Mark Towill, Charlie Enright, Chris Welch, Chris Branning and Jesse Fielding.
The largest boat in the IRC Class is Jim Muldoon’s (Washington D.C.) new Andrews 80 Donnybrook. “This boat is definitely a racing boat,” said Muldoon who has raced in the event six times in the past on his other boats of the same name and this year will have 18 crew members onboard during the distance race. “Donnybrook is bigger than any of my other boats; it has a canting keel and is very racing oriented.”
His most matched competitor is George Sakellaris (Framingham, Mass.) with his 72-foot mini maxi Shockwave, which came off a great year in 2012, winning its class at the Newport Bermuda Race, the NYYC 158th Annual Regatta presented by Rolex and the Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week. “They will be a true competitor for us,” said Muldoon.
The Pineapple Cup – Montego Bay Race presented by Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum is endorsed by the Jamaican Tourist Board and managed by the SORC. Sponsors include the Montego Bay Yacht Club, Storm Trysail Club, and Lauderdale Yacht Club. Immediately after the start the racers cross the Gulf Stream for the Northwest Providence Channel. The middle of the race usually offers a fetch down the eastern side of the Bahamas Island Chain towards the tip of Cuba. The final stretch is a sailor’s dream: a 240 mile downwind sleigh ride from Cuba’s eastern tip known as Windward Passage to the finish at Montego Bay. At the finish, sailors are treated to a week of fun with cocktail parties every night, steel bands, limbo dancing and other fun displays and competitions, ending with a superb dinner and dance along with a prize giving ceremony on Friday, February 15.
For more information, visit http://www.montegobayrace.com/
2013 Pineapple Cup – Montego Bay Race
Sail Number Yacht Name Owner’s Name Home Port Yacht Type Length
1. USA 39 AMHAS MacKenzie Davis Mill Valley, CA, USA Class 40 40
2. USA 1253 Catapult Marc Glimcher New York, NY, USA Ker 40 40
3. USA 84001 Decision Stephen Murray New Orleans, LA, USA HPR Carkeek 40 40
4. USA 66 Donnybrook James Muldoon Washington, DC, USA Andrews 80 80
5. USA 54 Dragon Michael Hennessy New York, NY, USA Class 40 40
6. USA 60292 Icefire Ralf Steitz USMMA Kings Point, NY, USA IRC 52 52
7. USA 52152 Lucky Bryon Ehrhart Chicago, IL, USA TP 52 58
8. USA 145 Rebecca Glenn Gault League City, TX, USA J 120 40
9. USA 52422 Renegade Tom Slade Ponte Vedra, FL, USA Santa Cruz 52 52
10. USA 60272 Shockwave George Sakellaris Framingham, MA, USA Mini Maxi 72
“All-Inside” Course Option Added
Some new faces are expected at this year’s Storm Trysail Club Block Island Race with the announcement of a short course addition — the Plum Island Course (126 nautical miles all in Long Island Sound) – as a PHRF-class option to the event’s traditional 186 nautical mile course for both IRC and PHRF. The change for the Memorial Weekend event means starting at The Cows off Stamford, Conn. and rounding Red and White Whistle “PI” northwest of Plum Island before heading back while the rest of the Block Island Race fleet continues farther afield to circumnavigate Block Island.
“In 2007, we had created an option to shorten the race to the Plum Island Whistle and back in case the weather was bad,” said Storm Trysail Club Rear Commodore Lee Reichart. “This year, we thought that there just might be a significant number of new-to-ocean-racing boats and crews who might like to sail that course anyway, because it keeps them from having to go out in the ocean and consequently eliminates the need to carry a life raft, which is a safety requirement for all others in this race.”
With over 50 entries to date, the Block Island Race is easily on target to top last year’s fleet of 59 (in six IRC and two PHRF classes), and with the race preceding the biennial Newport Bermuda Race, organizers are expecting to host many of that distance race’s entrants who are preparing.
The Block Island Race, which has been held annually for 67 years, is a staple on the calendar of many New England competitors and starts on Friday May 25 at 1400. It is notorious for the “fork in the road” decision that Plum Island forces after 60 miles of sailing: competitors must decide to take either Plum Gut, “The Race” or even Fishers Island Sound while leaving Long Island Sound. This decision often determines the outcome of the race.
The Block Island Race was first held in 1946 and is a qualifier for the North Ocean Racing Trophy (IRC), the Double Handed Ocean Racing Trophy (IRC), the New England Lighthouse Series (PHRF), and the Gulf Stream Series (IRC). The Block Island Race is also a qualifier for the Caper, Sagola, and Windigo trophies awarded by the YRA of Long Island Sound and the ‘Tuna” Trophy for the best combined IRC scores in the Edlu (40%) and the Block Island Race (60%).
For more information on the Storm Trysail Club Block Island Race or the Plum Island Course (Notice of Race Amendment #1), visit www.stormtrysail.org or contact The Storm Trysail Club (914) 834-8857.
About the Storm Trysail Club
The Storm Trysail Club, reflecting in its name the sail to which sailors must shorten when facing severe adverse conditions, is one of the world’s most respected sailing clubs, with its membership comprised strictly of skilled blue water and ocean racing sailors. In addition to hosting Block Island Race Week presented by Rolex in odd-numbered years, the club holds various prestigious offshore racing events (among them the annual Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race and the Pineapple Cup Montego Bay Race); annual junior safety-at-sea seminars; and Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta for college sailors using big boats.
For more information on the Storm Trysail Club and its events, including the Block Island Race, visit the official website www.stormtrysail.org.
One of the greatest moments in the history of offshore racing took place today with the final start of the Transatlantic Race 2011 setting six yachts on their course from Newport to The Lizard off the southeast coast of England. And as the six magnificent yachts hoisted their sails you could almost feel the huge crowd of spectators gathered at Castle Hill hold their breath as they observed the fastest ocean-going monohulls to have ever been built in 145 years of transatlantic racing.
Prior to the start, George David (Hartford Conn.), skipper of Rambler 100, paid tribute to the four yacht clubs that came together to make this race a reality. “This race was only conceived 18 months ago and without the support of New York Yacht Club, the Royal Yacht Squadron, the Royal Ocean Racing Club and the Storm Trysail Club, it would have never happened. It is a dream race that has become a reality.”
Clarke Murphy (New York, N.Y.), competed in the previous edition of the race and was delighted to return to take up the reins of ICAP Leopard.
”Leopard has a phenomenal crew who are also a great bunch of guys, and I have been looking forward to this for a very long time. We have done a lot of racing together, but all of those races have been the build up to this. For me and the crew, the Transatlantic Race is what it is all about.”
A weather front arrived as if by magic, and with the wind speed at the top of the rigs approaching 15 knots, the six yachts cruised the starting area like reef sharks ready to attack. As the starting gun sounded from Castle Hill Light, the Maxi fleet powered up and the sound of immense loads echoed across the water as sheets were pulled on and rigs raked back to propel the high-performance racing machines out towards the open ocean. The sheer power on display was awe-inspiring, as the fastest yachts in the Transatlantic Race 2011, searing through the water, foam hissing at the rail, started on their one-way ride across the untamed Atlantic Ocean.
Beau Geste, the Farr 80 skippered by Karl Kwok (Hong Kong), got the best start and sped away toward Brenton Point. PUMA’s mar mostro, skippered by Ken Read (Newport, R.I.), was next to cross the line followed by Rambler 100 and ICAP Leopard. Vanquish was caught up in the Maxi mêlée and was stalled as the two 100-footers powered up on either side of the 65’ yacht crewed by the Oakcliff All American Offshore Team. For the young crew aboard Vanquish, this is a ride of their life, lining up against the best in the world.
Beau Geste and PUMA’s mar mostro continued up the right-hand side of the course, playing touch and go with the rocky shoreline, while Rambler 100 and ICAP Leopard seemed locked in their own private tussle as the fleet headed offshore. The magnificent 115’ ketch, Sojana, with a mahogany interior, is far heavier than her sporting rivals and skipper Peter Harrison (Reigate, U.K.) will surely be hoping for more wind.
For the yachts in IRC Class Four, which took the first race start on June 26 and are now a week into their journey, it’s a case of the rich getting richer. Rives Potts Jr. (Essex, Conn.), skipper of Carina, leads the class with only the classic yawl Nordwind for company. British Soldier is now 200 miles astern.
Jazz, the Cookson 50 skippered by Nigel King (Lymington, U.K.), is nearly 700 miles ahead of today’s starters and leads in IRC Class Two. Jazz is struggling for breeze at the moment, but a low-pressure system located just to their north is tantalizingly close. This area of wind is moving west, however, and if they can get to it, they will be carried swiftly along; if they don’t, they will be left to wallow in the short seas and little wind that it leaves behind.
Meanwhile, Huntington Sheldon, skipper of the Reichel Pugh 65, Zaraffa, is a happy man today. Zaraffa is now in the breeze after a day of fickle wind. And, as predicted, the Lithuanian Volvo 60, Ambersail, have made a big gain to the south and have been the fastest boat in class over the last 24 hours.
In the Open Class, Phaedo, skippered by Lloyd Thornburg, has been enjoying some great wind after moving south on Friday afternoon. Maltese Falcon, on the other hand, has been playing the shifts up the coastline of Nova Scotia, putting in a myriad of gybes. Those who thought that the 298’ art deco superyacht would be coasting across the Atlantic are very mistaken. The two highly distinctive yachts look like they are coming back together after over 50 miles of separation and it will be interesting to see which one will be out in front. The two Class 40s also parted company after following the same line for the first 48 hours. Concise 2, skippered by Ned Collier-Wakefield (Oxford, U.K.) went south and Dragon did not follow; the two yachts are now 70 miles apart on the race track.
All of the 24 yachts competing in the Transatlantic Race will be carefully planning their next move as they can never fully work out what lies ahead of them. The yachts that have already settled into the race know one thing for certain, the magnificent yachts in IRC One will be coming on fast and almost certainly Rambler 100 or ICAP Leopard will overtake them before long: just four hours into the race, Rambler 100 was exceeding 18 knots boatspeed and had already covered 40 miles.
Sponsors of the TR 2011 are Rolex, Thomson Reuters, Newport Shipyard, Perini Navi and Peters & May, with additional support by apparel sponsor Atlantis Weathergear.
For more information, visit http://www.transatlanticrace.org/.
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More about the Transatlantic Race 2011
The Transatlantic Race 2011 charts a 2,975 nautical mile course from Newport, R.I., to Lizard Point, South Cornwall, England. Pre-start activities will take place at the New York Yacht Club’s Harbour Court clubhouse in Newport, while awards will be presented at the Royal Yacht Squadron’s Cowes Castle clubhouse on the Isle of Wight. Three separate starts – June 26, June 29 and July 3 – will feature 30 boats ranging from 40 to 289 feet in length. In addition to winners in seven classes (IRC Class 1 Racer, IRC Class 2 Racer, IRC Class 3 Racer/Cruiser, IRC Class 4 Racer/Cruiser, Classic, Class 40, and Open), whichever yacht finishes the course with the fastest elapsed time will set the benchmark for a new racing record from Newport to Lizard Point, to be ratified by the World Speed Sailing Council. Rolex watches will be awarded to the record holder and the overall winner (on corrected time) under IRC.
The Transatlantic Race 2011 is also the centerpiece of the Atlantic Ocean Racing Series (AORS), which includes the Pineapple Cup – Montego Bay Race, RORC Caribbean 600, the Annapolis to Newport Race, Rolex Fastnet Race, Biscay Race and the Rolex Middle Sea Race. Of the seven races in the AORS, three races, including the TR 2011 must be completed to qualify for a series victory. Each race is weighted equally in overall series scoring with the exception of TR 2011, which is weighted 1.5 times. All entered yachts are scored using their two best finishes in addition to the TR 2011. Awards for the AORS will be presented in November, 2011, at the New York Yacht Club’s Annual Awards Dinner in Manhattan.
For More Transatlantic Race Photos By George Bekris click HERE
While the water views from anywhere along Newport Harbor (R.I.) are already magnificent, they will be absolutely breathtaking in late June and early July when 32 ocean-going yachts set sail in the Transatlantic Race 2011, which charts a course that stretches 2,975 nautical miles from Newport to Lizard Point, at the end of a peninsula in South Cornwall (UK). This history-making event is organized by the Royal Yacht Squadron, New York Yacht Club, Royal Ocean Racing Club and Storm Trysail Club, with pre-start activities taking place at the New York Yacht Club’s Harbour Court clubhouse in Newport and the awards taking place at the Royal Yacht Squadron’s Cowes Castle clubhouse on the Isle of Wight.
The fleet runs the gamut from sleek traditional designs, such as the 94’ William Fife-designed Sumurun, to sophisticated super yachts, such as the 289’ custom Perini Navi clipper sailing yacht Maltese Falcon, with three masts so tall (190’) they barely clear Newport’s towering Pell Bridge, which serves as a gateway to Rhode Island’s famous City by the Sea. And as those who are veterans of ocean racing will attest, crossing the Atlantic Ocean is no small feat, especially when storms, testing seas and even icebergs (still a danger in the North Atlantic in June) are included in the mix of challenges encountered.
“What I find so incredible with open-ocean racing is that there are very few things that you can do these days that are the same as what people did 400 years ago,” said Sumurun’s owner Robert Towbin . “You have such a sense of history when you’re out there and for a couple weeks you get to feel, in effect, the same way Columbus felt.”
Towbin has sailed Sumurun in two previous transatlantic races, winning the Classic Division in the 2005 Rolex Transatlantic Challenge and taking overall victory in the 1997 Atlantic Challenge Cup presented by Rolex. He is currently preparing his classic yacht, which was built in 1914, to endure what will be its first challenge of the 2011 sailing season. “If you have an older boat, a race of this complexity takes a lot out of it, so we are putting a lot of work into it to get it up to date,” said Towbin.
Three separate starts – June 26, June 29, and July 3 – are planned (Sumurun will be in the first start) to “stagger” the yachts of different sizes and ability so that they will arrive in England in proximity to each other. Challenging their crews both mentally and physically, the larger boats hope to finish the race in 8 to 12 days, while the smaller boats may take up to 18 to 22 days to finish.
In addition to class winners, whichever yacht finishes the course with the fastest elapsed time will set the benchmark for a new racing record from Newport to Lizard Point, to be ratified by the World Speed Sailing Council. Rolex watches will be awarded to the record holder and the overall winner (on corrected time) under IRC.
It’s anyone’s guess which of the true racing thoroughbreds entered might prevail. Among them, scheduled to depart in the final race group, are the VOR 70 crewed by PUMA Ocean Racing Team, the Newport-based second-place finisher in the 2008-09 Volvo Ocean Race and entrant in the next edition as well; Rambler 100, George David’s maxi rocket ship that has been tearing up race courses since the beginning of the year, including breaking the record for the RORC Caribbean 600 and taking line honors at the Pineapple Cup-Montego Bay Race; and ICAP Leopard, which holds the current record from Ambrose Light to Lizard Point for monohulls using powered sailing systems.
And if that’s not impressive enough, there will be two all-youth teams competing, one from Germany (aboard the Andrews 56 Norddeutsche Vermoegen in race start two) and one from the U.S.A. (the All American Offshore Team’s IRC 65 Vanquish in race start three). In addition, four Class 40s, high-performance monohulls designed specifically for shorthanded sailing, will have their own class (starting in the second group).