A highly varied fleet with fascinating competitors will set off on 28th November from Lanzarote – the most eastern island in the Canary Islands chain – bound for the island of Grenada in the Caribbean in the RORC Transatlantic Race, organised by The Royal Ocean Racing Club in association with The International Maxi Association.
Two MOD 70s will be locking horns in the 2015 RORC Transatlantic Race, aiming for line honours and victory in a highly competitive, high-speed duel: Lloyd Thornburg’s Phaedo^3 and Tony Lawson’s Concise 10, skippered by Ned Collier Wakefield are capable of a top speed in excess of 40 knots and an average 25 knots for the race. Two of the world’s fastest multihulls could complete the 3000 nautical mile course in just five days.
The two MOD 70s have raced each other twice. Concise 10 got the better of Phaedo^3 in the Artemis Challenge, around the Isle of Wight Race and Phaedo^3 squared the match, beating Concise 10 in the Rolex Fastnet Race. The RORC Transatlantic Race will be the first transoceanic race between two fully crewed MOD 70s for over three years and it is highly likely that the race will be incredibly close. In the last fully crewed Transatlantic Race featuring MOD 70s, three teams finished within two hours of each other.
Concise 10 was launched this summer and broke the RORC Cowes-Dinard-St Malo race record in its debut offshore race. Concise 10 crew includes the world speed record holder, Paul Larsen, who achieved over 65 knots in Sailrocket, IMOCA 60 sailor Jonny Malbon plus Wouter Verbraak and Andy Meiklejohn from the Volvo Ocean Race.
British sailor and RORC member, Ned Collier Wakefield has been with Team Concise since it was launched in 2006. At just 21 years of age, Ned started to race in the Class 40 division with immediate success, setting the 40ft record for Round the Isle of Wight, the RORC Caribbean 600 Class 40 record and winning the Class 40 World Championship. In 2011 Ned skippered a young team to win class in the Transatlantic Race and set a world record for the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race. Ned is still only 27 and is new to multihull racing:
“This has been a very steep learning curve. We are still learning every time we go out and we have been lucky enough to get a lot of sailing in this summer with structured learning sessions, but we still have a lot to learn,” commented Ned Collier Wakefield. “It is totally exhilarating to be on the tiller of Concise 10. The whole team are able to drive at a high level and in certain conditions, we are changing over the driver very quickly. The speed that it is capable of is incredible and you have to keep your wits about you and stay on the ball, as you have the ultimate control over the power of the boat.
“On a reach, the apparent wind can be as much as 60 knots. That is a hell of a lot of wind going across the deck; you can’t hear each other at all and the boat speed is 30 knots, it is amazing. The sensation on a reach is really violent, it is hard to move around the boat and you really have to hang on. We will be using the delivery down to Lanzarote as part of our training with the full race crew. It will be the longest and the furthest we have sailed on the boat. We will be getting to Lanzarote about 10 days before the start of the race and continue to practice intensively in the trade winds and Atlantic swell, which will be the conditions for the race. For sure we are out to win, but there is mutual respect between the two teams and Brian (Thompson) doesn’t hold back when it comes to advice. It will be a full-on race but we are looking out for each other as well.”
Phaedo^3 shot to fame in February this year breaking the RORC Caribbean 600 record which has stood since the first edition in 2009. During 2015, the records in the Caribbean just kept tumbling, including the Round Antigua and Round St. Maarten course records and the Antigua to Newport Record. Lloyd Thornburg’s team includes Extreme 40 champion Pete Cumming, Figaro and Class 40 sailor Sam Goodchild, Warren Fitzgerald from the Hydroptère project and Miles Seddon, performance analyst for Team SCA. Phaedo^3’s co-skipper is Jules Verne record holder, Brian Thompson.
Brian Thompson started his professional career by winning the 1992 OSTAR single-handed transatlantic race in which he sailed his own 35′ wooden trimaran Transient, and since then his record in offshore sailing speaks for itself, having broken an astonishing 30 world records and clocking up close to 300,000 ocean miles in multihulls alone. His greatest achievement to date was setting the current Jules Verne Round the World record in 2012, as part of Loic Peyron’s crew on Banque Populaire V. Highlights of his achievements before the Jules Verne win would include winning the 2004 Quebec St Malo Race and in the same setting the Round the World Record on Cheyenne and winning the Oryx Quest Round the World Race in 2005.
“There is no difference in speed between the two boats and it will come down to tactics and navigation,” explains Thompson. “The MOD 70 is the best boat in the world; super-fast, very strong and reasonably safe offshore. In terms of navigation, once we leave Lanzarote we will have to negotiate the Canary Islands which will be an interesting conundrum before heading towards Grenada. Then it is principally a downwind course, although at this time of year, there is the choice of going north to hook into a cold front or going south to find the trade winds. During the race, squalls are always a big factor and this is a very open race course, so we could be hundreds of miles apart, but we will be watching each other and I think this will be a really close race. The last few hours could be very interesting. Which side of Barbados to go will be in the mix and we could see some double bluffing going on. It is quite rare to have this opportunity and a big thank you to the RORC for organising the race. We are very glad to be supporting it and the RORC Transatlantic Race is the perfect way to arrive for the RORC Caribbean 600.”
Image: © Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images