Just finished an epic journey on my Outremer 45 catamaran here in the Med. I was joined by my racing navigator and good friend Nacho, who is considering getting a cat for himself, and so was keen to join and help me test mine. We sailed from Menorca, off the coast of Spain where I have been based, across to Tunisia on the Northern tip of Africa. Tunisia was the best non-EU country nearby to meet some VAT guidelines. It was a great trip and the perfect chance to finally unleash my Outremer 45 and see how she performs, test my inventory of North Sails, my B&G instrument package, and my Mastervolt power system. And everything has been awesome, even better than I hoped it would be. Tunisia was also a pleasant surprise, with lovely people and heaps of history. On the return leg, we stopped at the bottom of Sardinia and visited a cool little island named Carloforte, before sailing back across to Menorca. Absolutely one of the nicest sailing trips I’ve ever had. It was the first real outing with my cat using the full kit, and having Nacho along made for the ultimate test sail. We tested her in every mode, used every sail to learn it’s range, and trialed nearly every feature of the B&G navigation package and Mastervolt power system to see how they all worked. We both enjoyed every phase of it and came away highly impressed. So an awesome one for me, real happy to be so satisfied with all the choices I had made. Now headed back to the VI for a bit before returning to Sardinia next month for the Rolex Maxi Regatta. A big thank you to my partners in this cat venture, Outremer, North Sails, B&G, Mastervolt, and Harken.
I have just wrapped up a long prep and racing period in Palma Majorca. This was our first event of the season on TOPAZ, the J Class that I race. We had done a few tweaks during the off-season (top secret, can’t tell you more J) so a few early days to get things right, and then the Palma Superyacht Cup, where we would face a fleet of top boats, including VELSHEDA, a J Class similar to us, which I rate as the top J Class yacht around. So a great opportunity to test our changes, work on the endless process of refining how to sail these ultra challenging boats just a little faster.
We had an un-official race day with just the two J’s, where we did two races, and each won a race. Then the regatta proper, three days, three races. Day one they beat us by a few seconds, after over 3 hours of racing! Day two we returned the favor and beat them by 15 seconds. Day three would decide, so nothing like a little old fashioned match racing at the start in 140ft Americas Cup boats designed in the 1930’s. No crashes, so all good! And we battled feet apart around the entire track, changed the lead a few times, but finally got ahead on the last leg to the finish to score the win. This also gave us victory in our division, so a nice way to start the season.
It’s early days in the performance improvement game for TOPAZ, but nice to see some of the changes we made were helpful. VELSHEDA is the benchmark in my opinion, and a great group of guys to race against, so we are very grateful to have them to compete against all summer.
We now have a few weeks to analyze our performance, consider any more changes, re-cut a few sail shapes, and then we meet again at the Maxi Rolex Cup in Sardinia in late August.
So all good, our team sailed really well, very proud of our guys, and very happy for our wonderful owners.
Just finished racing the Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta in Porto Cervo Sardinia onboard the Wally Cento+ OPEN SEASON. She is a Vrolijk designed 100 footer, later stretched to 107 feet. Porto Cervo is absolutely one of my favorite places in the world to sail, so it was going to be a great week, no matter the results! This was my first time racing with this team, but we had a couple short training sessions in Palma prior to the event, so were pretty well prepared as a crew. The boat has not raced in over a year, and so this was a test event for the owner, with old sails, to help decide if he will do a proper campaign next year.
We were in the Performance class with about 12 boats. Magic Carpet was going to be the benchmark for everyone, as she is a fully optimized and campaigned Wally Cento. Sure enough, she sailed nearly perfect and easily won the event. The battle was for 2nd, and this was between us and about 4 other boats. Going into the final day the Briand 115 INUI held a 2 point lead over us, and unfortunately the final race was canceled when the wind died, so we finished third for the week. But a great regatta, the team sailed really well, and we were satisfied with the outcome.
I’m now on my cat in Menorca for one day, and then it’s off to Palma to prepare for the first event of the season on TOPAZ. This is the J Class that I will sail with for the remainder of the 2019 season. This first event will be at the Superyacht Cup Palma, where we will have some great competition there to test ourselves against, including the other top J Class VELSHEDA. Should be a great event.
My 2019 racing season started in late January on the Eastern Caribbean island of Grenada, where I helped a local team of Grenadians race their home built Carib 33. Grenada is about the only Caribbean island I had never been to, so I was keen to go when I got the call from my buddy Nacho. It was also an opportunity to help a local team sail. Although we are surrounded here in the islands by the best sailing in the world, our local people rarely get involved in the water and boating, so any opportunity to help promote this is welcome. I had a super time, helped them win the regatta, and finally got to see and enjoy the “spice” island of the Caribbean. Nice way to start the year.
Next up was the St. Barths Bucket in March, about as extreme a contrast as you could get to the regatta in Grenada. This one is on monster yachts all over 100ft. I was tactician on the 54 meter Hyperion and we sailed a good regatta and most important, had a great time on St. Barths. We were 3 boats tied going into the final race when our genoa split in half, forcing us to limp around the course. But we held on to third for the event, and the owners were pleased, so all was ok.
Next up for me is a series of events and training in Europe. I will be heading over in April and will base myself on the Spanish island of Menorca on my Outremer 45 catamaran. This year I have scheduled some breaks in between my regattas so I plan to take a few trips around Europe and finally get to enjoy sailing the cat.
Here’s to a great year of work, play, and enjoying life to the fullest.
One could not pick a better way to wrap up the 2018 racing season than by racing the J Class yacht Topaz in the Voiles de St. Tropez. We were placed in the modern IRC class with 24 other yachts, but mainly focussed on the boat similar to us, our rival J Class Valsheda. We had some great racing all week, and managed to beat them, finish 9th in class, and win the Loro Piana Trophy for top Superyacht.
The Voiles de St. Tropez is truly one of our sports greatest festivals of sailing, combining modern race yachts with some of the most elegant classics afloat. Everyday was a sight to be seen with the horizon filled with the full spectrum of racing to classic yachts. And all in the quaint and beautiful town of St. Tropez.
Thank you Topaz and team for a fantastic year. Now it’s time to head back to my lovely Virgin Islands for some time off.
And a special thanks to my partners Outremer, North Sails, Mastervolt, B&G, Harken, and Marina Menorca.
Just finished the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup in Porto Cervo, Sardinia on the J Class yacht Topaz. We had a fantastic battle all week in our class, especially against the two other J’s, Svea and Valsheda, and managed to come out on top by just one point. This definitely ranks as one of my sweetest wins ever. A truly great team spirit onboard and effort by everyone, proving that team is what matters most. Epic battles on the water, truly majestic boats to be racing, and the waters of Sardinia all add up to make this one really special.
I now have a couple days off before my next TP52 event in Valencia, so getting to enjoy my Outremer 45 on my new favorite island of Menorca.
Special thanks to my partners Outremer, North Sails, Mastervolt, B&G, Harken, and Marina Menorca.
Just wrapped up a very wild and windy event at the TP52 World Championships in Cascais, Portugal. We are still behind in all areas of development with our new boat and as a crew, so we didn’t have a flash result. But we had some incredible sailing, learned heaps, and have a great challenge ahead trying to get the boat and ourselves up to full potential. I now have a couple weeks off before our next event in Palma, so a nice chance to re-charge my batteries and enjoy life in Menorca where I am based for the racing season. A special thanks to my partners for helping make my European summer base possible- Outremer, North Sails, B&G, Mastervolt, and Marina Menorca.
Just finished 10 days of racing in the opening 52 Super Series event of 2018 in Sibenik, Croatia on the new PROVEZZA. Unfortunately due to a late launch and delivery, we did not get sufficient time to complete testing of the new custom bits onboard and we had several equipment failures during racing that cost us dearly. But on the positive side, the new design showed great speed potential, so once we get the systems sorted, we should be competitive. Also on the plus side is that we did not rack up a terrible amount of points in this “bad” regatta for us, so we still have a fair chance at a good overall season result.
And Croatia was fantastic. Endless islands, rich history, nice weather, and lovely people. A lovely place that i intend to return to and spend time enjoying on my Outremer 45 in the near future!
Next up on the 52 Circuit is another event in Croatia in a couple weeks, this one in Zadar. We are busy fixing things on our boat and hope to be running at full strength for this next event. Hopefully we’ll have an opportunity to see the full potential of our new boat.
We just finished one week of sea trials and training in Ancona, Italy following the launch of the new TP52 PROVEZZA. Everything went well and early impressions are all very good. The only issue is that we are very short on time to complete the final details and get the necessary sailing time prior to the start of the season due to the late delivery of the boat. All the other teams are ahead of us on this front, having launched months and weeks earlier than us, so we will have to work hard and smart to catch up to them as quickly as possible. I would hope that by the second event we can be racing at full strength.
Nine teams have built new boats for this upcoming season, so it will be an exciting period to see new design concepts tested, and how quickly teams get their boats up to full speed. Seven boats come from the Botin design office, and two are from the Vrolijk design office. Provezza and Platoon are the 2 Vrolijk designs.
Our season opens in Sibenik, Croatia in 2 weeks, and the second event is 3 weeks later just down the coast in Zadar.
So exciting and busy times ahead, and really looking forward to it all. More info at 52superseries.com and www.provezza.net
An update before I get really busy racing again. This is the first chapter of my new campaign of basing myself in Europe on my new Outremer 45 catamaran for the entire summer racing season, and it has been great. I chose Mahon, Menorca in the Balearic Islands as my starting point based on the nice impressions from racing here on two previous occasions. And it has proven to be everything and more than I hoped it would be. It’s small and quiet which suits me, plus it’s beautiful, friendly, and is perfect for mountain biking and hiking. So I’m super happy with it and will make it my base for this first year onboard.
I found a great marina here that will allow me to travel to my events and know that my boat is safe and in good hands. Marina Menorca has several dock and mooring options to choose from, plus a lovely team that are very friendly and helpful. They have been great to work with and have made my stay here super easy.
A few words about my partners in this cat project. I chose the Outremer 45 because it looked “right” for my goal of having that nice balance of performance and comfort. I did my research and talked to current owners, and Outremer ticked all the boxes. And now after my first 4 weeks of living onboard, I could not be any happier with my choice. Thank you Outremer.
For my sails, I decided to work with the team at North Sails. We use North Sails on all of my race programs, so I am very aware of the quality and performance of their technology, and it was the obvious choice for me. Working together, we designed an inventory of sails that would suit my exact needs- performance, durability, and a smart inventory of sail cross-overs that I could achieve the full range, with the least number of sails. With weight of sails being a big factor on catamaran performance, plus sailing short-handed most often, this was important. I have now sailed over 250 miles in the full range of conditions and am totally happy with my choice of North Sails.
The other important component needed to achieve the performance that i wanted from my cat was my instrument and navigation package. For this I chose B&G, and have been pleasantly surprised with every new feature i discover each time i use it. The range of features, accuracy, and ease of use makes B&G stand out from all the others, and I am continually being impressed with their product.
For my power systems onboard I chose Mastervolt and their Lithium Ion batteries. In addition to the standard panel to control your onboard electronics, Mastervolt has an EasyView control display that allows me into the entire network onboard and the ability to control and diagnose ever single electronic item onboard. Truly amazing.
And my final partner in this project are my good friends at Harken. Since I was going to be the one cranking in my fancy new sails, and not calling out to my grinders to man-up and just wind harder, I knew that I had to pick the best ones. I have six of their latest models onboard, and life is easy. I can’t understand what this grinders are always whining about!
Now I head off to Bodrum, Turkey for a training session with our TP52 team, followed shortly thereafter by the launching of our new boat in Italy early next month. Then the TP52 Superseries kicks off in Croatia in late May and the busy racing season gets fully underway.
Looking forward to a great season of racing, all based from my new floating home here in Menorca, with very special thanks to all my partners in this project, and my new best friends at Marina Menorca.