Transatlantic Race 2011

Wounded Leopard - ICAP Leopard Breaks Bowsprit

ICAP Leopard contacted the Transatlantic Race 2011 media team today to reveal a major breakage in board. All of the crew are fine and the boat is structurally sound. However, one can only wonder what might have been for ICAP Leopard if they had not suffered this fundamental failure so early in the race.

Friday 08 July 2011
ICAP Leopard’s captain, Chris Sherlock, has announced that their bowsprit broke at 20.20 UT on Monday 04 July, just over a day after leaving Newport, R.I.  The damage happened in flat water after passing the George’s Bank with a fractional sail flying off the sprit

No one was hurt in the incident and both the sail and the sprit were recovered safely.  Since then Chris has been working with the crew and the Farr office, Leopard’s designers, to work out ways to keep racing safely.

Fortunately the way the boat is built has meant that there is no threat to the integrity of the hull nor to the strength of the bow so that sails can still be flown from the stem. This has meant that Leopard’s performance on the long beam reach of the first three days from Newport has not been much compromised except that the yacht has had to sail slightly higher than optimum, which is why it is to the south side of its main competition.  However, as the high pressure system is approached, there are very few options for sailing downwind without the sprit.

“Obviously we are very disappointed but happy that nobody was hurt and we are now concentrating on finishing as well as possible,” said Sherlock by sat phone earlier today.  “We have a team on stand-by for our arrival in Southampton to make an effective repair in time for our corporate charter commitments and the start of the Fastnet Race. We are unable at this stage to establish the cause of failure.”

Leopard’s owner, Mike Slade, who is not onboard for this race, is as ever determined that Leopard will be back racing as soon as possible and Clarke Murphy, who is the charterer and skipper for the Transatlantic race, is still loving the sleigh ride across the Atlantic.

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Breaking news from the North Atlantic is that just over 24 hours into the Transatlantic Race 2011, at 20:20 UTC on July 4th, ICAP Leopard had a major problem onboard when the bowsprit broke off on the 100’ Maxi yacht.  None of the crew was injured and the boat is still structurally sound, but the failure will have had significant effects on the yacht’s performance over the last four days. The ICAP Leopard crew is obviously in a defiant mood; they have not only stayed in the race, but also have a real chance of winning on corrected time. 

After three days of fast, adrenaline-pumping, downwind sailing in Atlantic swell, the leading boats in the Transatlantic Race 2011 have started to slow down.  There is a complex weather scenario around the fleet and the front-runners are in a transition zone between two weather systems with the result that boat speeds have fallen like a stone.  This has renewed hope for the chasing pack, which is still in pressure.  These boats are catching up with the leaders in their respective classes, but they too must negotiate the tricky, tactical part of this fascinating race.  It may seem counterintuitive, but light headwinds provide some of the most grueling conditions for the crews; the myriad sail changes mean hard physical work and just about every sailor out there will be feeling the effects of fatigue compounded by poor diet and lack of sleep.

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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 took 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 – featured 26 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.