All class winners and overall winner were first-time entrants
By James Boyd and Sean McNeill
NEWPORT, R.I. — Following in the wake of three rebellious New Yorkers who inaugurated the Transatlantic Race in December 1866, a fleet of 13 intrepid crews conquered a restive North Atlantic Ocean from late June to early July in the 31st running of the classic yacht race.
Although this year’s race will go down as one of the slowest and lightest on record—the winning elapsed time was more than three days off record pace—there was plenty of competition throughout the fleet: battles for podium positions that were decided in the final 200 nautical miles of the 2,960-nuatical mile race. And battles with that old sage Mother Nature, whose ocean was at times frothy and wet and at others frustratingly windless and serene.
“We had a great race. It was really successful from our point of view in terms of enjoyment, fun and safety,” said Ian Budgen, tactician on Clarke Murphy’s 82-footer Aegir, which placed fourth in IRC 2. “In our class it turned out to be a small boat race. Realistically, when you go handicap racing offshore, you’re at the mercy of the weather systems. For us the race was calm with winds mostly in the single digits or teens. Our max windspeed was 27 or 28 knots, but for a very short period of time.”
Yachts crossing the North Atlantic typically have to deal with repeated fronts that pass them as a stream of depressions moves towards Europe. For the first few days of the race this was the case. After the start on June 25 off Newport’s Castle Hill Light in a 10-knot southerly, the fleet was beating in 15 to 20 knots with torrential rain and lightning that evening as they headed for the first mandatory waypoints south of Nantucket Shoals and the Right Whale Critical Habitat Area.
COWES, England – The Transatlantic Race 2019 will go down as one of the slowest on record, but for none was it more drawn out than for Constantin Claviez and his crew on Charisma. The German skipper and his trusty 1980 vintage Swan 441, which he has campaigned for the past 20 years, arrived in Cowes this afternoon after a slow day spent crossing Lyme and Christchurch bays in light winds before bucking a powerful ebb tide exiting the western Solent.
Charisma finally crossed the Royal Yacht Squadron finish line off Cowes at 16:47:00 UTC. Her elapsed time of 23 days, 1 hour and 37 minutes was some 5d:15h:39m after the previous arrival, Mark Stevens’ Hinckley 50 Kiva last Friday. Charisma’s time this year was some 4d:6h:31m slower than it took her in the Transatlantic Race 2015.
As has been the case for everyone in this year’s Transatlantic Race, Charisma’s crossing was one of light conditions. But her crossing was made worse when the crew just missed a band of southerly winds, the transatlantic express train that the group immediately ahead of her was able to ride until it ground to halt negotiating the high pressure bubble off southern Ireland.
In IRC 2, Peter Bacon’s XP-44 Lucy Georgina scored a come-from-behind victory over Giles Redpath’s Lombard 46 Pata Negra to win the class by 47 minutes on IRC corrected time. The two boats finished under the cover of darkness last night, separated by a little more than eight minutes on elapsed time in what is one of the closest ever finishes in the history of the Transatlantic Race.
At one point last weekend, Lucy Georgina was more than 100 nautical miles astern of Pata Negra, but the leader fell becalmed off the coast of Ireland while the hunter rode strong southwesterly winds up from behind.
By the time the two crews reached Land’s End on the southwest corner of England, Lucy Georgina was within two nautical miles, and a match race ensued over the next 180 miles to the finish. They swapped positions on numerous occasions, always taking an opportunity to cover when it was there, but Lucy Georgina proved nimbler in the light winds experienced up the English Channel.
COWES, England — Laurent Pagès stood dockside in Cowes and let out a sigh. Ça va bien, merci, he answered, affirming that all was well after Teasing Machine finished the Transatlantic Race 2019. But it was his sigh that told the story of the crew's languid final days in the 2,970-nautical-mile race.
"The last five days were really tough. Being stuck in high pressure, which was moving with us, there was no way to deal with it," said Pagèsè, the project manager for Eric De Turckheim's Nivelt/Muratet 54-footer. "We had a great atmosphere on board. Teasing Machine is an awesome boat, and the spirit among the crew was very uplifting."
"We're physically fit, maybe mentally exhausted, but that's what it is after a long race. Everything is okay," said De Turckheim, the 68-year-old owner from Geneva, Switzerland. "It wasn't easy because the weather was not kind with us. All the way was really complex weather systems right from the start. I've done three trans-Atlantics and they were all totally unusual. I've never had a good race, downwind all the way."
Teasing Machine finished the Transatlantic Race today at 1335:34 UTC for an elapsed time of 15 days, 22 hours, 15 minutes and 34 seconds. Fourth in line honors, Teasing Machine is projected to place third in IRC 2. The Teasing Machine crew included Quentin Bouchacourt (Lorient, France), Tony Brochet (La Rochelle, France), Bertrand Castelnerac (Lorient, France), De Turckheim (Geneva, Switzerland), Laurent Mahy (Morbihan, France), Jean Baptiste Morin (La Rochelle, France), Jean Luc Nelias (Quimper, France), Gabriele Olivo (Belluno, Italy), Pagès (Sainte Marie de Re, France), Emmanuel Supiot (Saint Rogatien, France) and Jerome Teillet (Le Pradet, France).
NEWPORT, R.I. — Clarke Murphy and the crew of the 82-footer Aegir were the third boat to finish the Transatlantic Race 2019. Last night they crossed the finish line off the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes, Isle of Wight, England, at 2213:58 UTC for an elapsed time of 14 days, 6 hours, 53 minutes and 58 seconds. Aegir is currently projected to place fourth in IRC 2.
The Aegir crew included Mike Broughton (Dartmouth, U.K.), Ian Budgen (Hayling Island, U.K.), Tim Davis (Geelong West, Australia), Amy Dawson (Palma de Mallorca, Spain), Abby Ehler (Lymington, U.K.), Alec Fraser (Lymington, U.K.), Julien le Duff (Palma de Mallorca, Spain), Youri Loof (Paris, France), Romain Mouchel (Llucmajor, Spain), Devon Murphy (New York, N.Y.), Caitlin Murphy (New York, N.Y.), Clarke Murphy (New York, N.Y.), Liam Murphy (New York, N.Y.), Jake Newman (Belmont, Australia).
This was the fourth Transatlantic Race since 2005 for Clarke Murphy, the 56-year-old CEO of a New York-based executive recruiting firm. For him, the race was about introducing three of his children, daughters Devon and Caitlin and son Liam, to the wonder of open ocean racing. In that regard, it couldn’t have gone better.