Whitbread Race Does The Chesapeake in Style


Bruce Farr & Associates designed about eight boats in the Whitbread Round The World Race and Judel/Vrolik designed one. That one, the Dutch boat Brunei Sunergy, skippered by match race champion Roy Heiner, won the seventh leg of the Whitbread from Fort Lauderdale to Baltimore. Farr’s company, head quartered next door in Annapolis, had to settle for second through last place.

It was the first win for Heiner, in what is arguably the most difficult sailing race in the world, but it leaves his Netherlands team in eighth place overall with only the all-women’s EF Education, a Swedish vessel, behind him.

Still in the lead, with only two legs to go, is EF Language another Swedish boat, but this one skippered by American Paul Cayard. His point score thus far is 689 makes him almost unbeatable in the overall race. In second place is Swedish Match, with 585 points, while Dennis Conner’s Toshiba in third.

The leg was only 870 miles, but as veteran British sailing correspondent Bob Fisher reported in an interview with Paul Cayard, it got old quickly.,, "The waves were 10 to 12 feet when we got back into the Gulf Stream. The boat drops off them and you wonder as it drops whether there is going to be damage—-the mast tries to thump its way through the bottom of the boat," Cayard said.

But it was evidently worth it as these ocean-defeating boats sailed up Chesapeake Bay under spinnaker, with hundreds of small craft escorting them. Not even large powerboats could keep up, but the parade to the finish was one neither the competitors nor the spectators will ever forget.

Baltimore turned out in mass and its refurbished waterfront became a week-long festival of the Whitbread Race for the Volvo Trophy.

The Whitbread, with its 65—foot boats, sporting 85—foot masts and crews of 10-12 people, is the mother of all ocean races. It covers almost 37,000 statute miles and began in 1973 as a race around the world following the routes of the famed clipper ships of the 1800s. Sailors around the world pretty much look at the Whitbread as one of three "holy trinity" of sailboat racing—the other two being the Olympics and the Americaa’s Cup.

The boats departed on May 3 from Annapolis on the sixth leg—a 3,900 statute mile run across the North Atlantic to La Rochelle, France. The optimum way to go—the Great Circle route—is strewn with Titanic-sized icebergs this time of year, so it could be a long trip and the North Atlantic is notoriouslsly unfriendly to small boats. The final leg starts May 22—a two day, or thereaboutss, run of 517 statute miles from La Rochelle back to the race’s starting point in Southampton, England.

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