Currently flying back home from a long, three-regatta trip. First up was Bermuda in early June for two events, the Americas Cup Superyacht Regatta, and the Americas Cup J Class Regatta, both on the J boat TOPAZ. For those not familiar with the J Class, these are yachts from the 1930 Americas Cup era. They are being restored or built new to original 1930 designs in this incredible resurgence that is taking place in the class. It is akin to classic cars, being fitted with the latest in turbo charged engines (all carbon rigs and sails), and racing around a track in anger. For Bermuda we had 7 of these beauties racing, the most J Class yachts ever assembled in one place together. About 135 feet long and crewed by as many as 30, these are some of the most challenging yachts I have ever raced.
TOPAZ is J8, an unbuilt 1935 Frank C Paine A design. Frank Paine had previously designed the yacht “Yankee”, which was built by Lawleys in 1930. ‘J8’ has been researched by the Hoek office, and found to be a good all round performer. She is the longest waterline J Class designed, with the highest keel aspect ratio, combined with the lowest wetted surface area. Frank Paine had already calculated in the 1930s that it was better to take a penalty on an increased waterline length in a trade off against sail area and displacement.
We still have a lot to learn on J8, and many upgrades needed to be able to challenge the other J’s that are years ahead of us in this evolving class. But we showed signs of speed, and the crew did a great job keeping us in the hunt at both events, where I think we finished 5th.
Three hours after our final race ended in Bermuda I was on a charter flight to Sardinia, Italy where my next regatta was starting the following day!! My PROVEZZA team in the 52 Super Series had to do the training days without three of us who were in Bermuda racing J’s, but we made it in time, hopped on the boat, and started race 1 at 1300 hours that next day. We ran 3rd for most of the race, but ended up 4th in this opening race. We then fought over the remaining 4 days and 8 races against the other 10 teams in everything from light winds to 25 plus, and on short windward/leewards and long coastal courses, in one of my favorite places to race. It was a fantastic week, and all came down to the final leg, of the final race, to determine the winners. We rounded the last mark of that final race and headed for the finish in position to win the regatta. But in one of the cruelest outcomes I have felt in a while, the small shackle on the tack of our spinnaker failed, and in the minutes it took for us to recover, all of our opponents passed us. So from wining the regatta, we end up tied for 4th, and losing on the tie-break to finish 6th. Buggar!
But now that the tears have all dried, we will try to take confidence from this experience that we are capable of wining if we can piece it all together again.
I am now looking forward to a couple weeks at home to debrief, hit the reset button, and enjoy a little time off. Then I’m off to France to visit the Outremer yard and see my new Outremer 45 being built. This will be my European base in the coming years that I will live on between events and move between regattas. All work of course!! Following this visit to the yard I will fly directly to Palma Majorca Spain for the next 52 Super Series event where we currently sit in 4th for the season, and hungry to redeem ourselves from having that win stolen from us in Sardinia!
My newest partner Outremer Catamarans has just finished a complete upgrade to their website. Really impressive, with controllable camera angles for a virtual tour of their product line, and all the information you might need to learn about the Outremer brand. http://www.catamaran-outremer.com
I had two great events in March. First up was the Miami 52 Super Series on the TP52 PROVEZZA. It was another close one, where it all came down to the final day to determine the top five places. Our goal this year is to sail conservatively, minimize risk, and try to benefit from good average results. There are no discards during a regatta, or for the overall annual series, so avoiding a bad result is as important as winning one. It is a long series and we are a new team that is striving to improve with each event, so if we can achieve that, we will be satisfied. We finished on the podium in third, which is one better than our first event in Key West, so the team is satisfied and eager to keep improving. We are now building a new keel fin that we hope will bring a nice performance gain and help our chances in the coming events. Next up is the TP52 World Championship in Scarlino Italy in mid May.
My second event in March was the St. Barths Bucket on the mighty J Class TOPAZ. There were five of these magnificent J Class boats racing together on a combination of windward-leeward and around the island courses. It was some of the most incredible and intense racing I have ever done. The challenge of racing these yachts is as tough as any class of boat I have ever sailed. Strike that, it is tougher! Thirty crew, 140 foot full keel yachts that turn slowly, huge sail plans and loads on everything, and four other teams that are all out to win, makes for down right scary racing. But when you stop and look around, and realize that we are replicating the racing they did back in the early 1900 America’s Cups, on some of the most beautifully restored yachts ever built, you have to realize that it is an absolutely incredible life experience. The racing was great, super close, and our team did a great job getting us around the course without any incidents. We are a new team so must be content with a 4th against the others that have been at this for several years. These are very tricky boats to master, so we have a great challenge ahead of us learning with each new event. Next up for us are two events in Bermuda in June during the America’s Cup. Should be very interesting to race our 1930 vintage yachts around the foiling cats of todays Cup. I hope they are not too upset that we will have more entries in our J Class, than they have in the actual America’s Cup !!!
I just returned from a week at the Outremer yard in La Grande-Motte France meeting the team that I will be working with and seeing how they build catamarans. It was an awesome experience and I am even more excited to be getting my Outremer 45 later this year. The Outremer 4X just won the 2017 European Yacht of the Year.
Well a nice start to 2017, so feeling like this might be a great year for me. Not sure I can say that about the rest of this crazy world of late! First up for me was my new project with the Turkish PROVEZZA team on the 52 Super Series. We scheduled a few days of sail testing in Florida, which was also a good opportunity for me to meet the other team members and get familiar with driving this JV designed TP52. These are the Formula 1’s of monohull racing and the boats are a true joy to sail. The level of development on all aspects of the project are almost as high as the America’s Cup (but without the extra three zero’s), so the design, sails, coaching, and talent onboard is fantastic. Driving a 52 with a tiller gives great precision and feedback, and brings the natural sailing style and skill to a big boat. Really nice.
Three of us then did an Etchells regatta as an added training session to get us better in race sync prior to our first 52SS event. We chartered an Etchells and launched it the morning of the regatta, one of the Miami Winter Series events being held nearby in Biscayne Bay. This 30 foot keel boat, with three crew, and some very good fleets of talent to race against, was an easy way to get real race time together. We had about 50 boats, ended up fourth, and had some valuable race practice with our driver, tactician, and trimmer from the big 52 all learning language and style under race pressure. Good stuff.
Next up was our first event of the 52 Super Series, Quantum Key West Race Week. This will be followed by an event in Miami, and then 4 more events in Europe through 2017. Our week started a little rough, but as we settled down and started to work better as a team, we slowly moved up in the standings. Going into the final race we were leading a tight pack, but a bad start by me cost us and we finished tied for second in the event, but fourth after tiebreak rules. Not too bad for our first event, still in the hunt for the overall series, and lots of room for improvement, so very excited about the year ahead. Add in a great owner and some great guys on the team, and I am very much looking forward to the year ahead.
Next up for me is a trip to France to start working with the Outremer Catamaran team on my new 45. Following this will be the Miami 52 Super Series event, and then my first event with my other big project, the 140 foot J boat TOPAZ, at the St. Barths Bucket. I know. Hard work, but someone has to do it! 🙂 All the best, peter
Happy New Year to everyone. I start the year with some big news on an exciting project that I have just started. After years of thinking and dreaming about it, I have finally decided to get a performance/cruising catamaran to travel and use as a base of operations when I am racing overseas.
After researching everything on the market, I arrived at an Outremer 45. This company has found the perfect balance of incorporating the comforts needed for living, within a sexy performance oriented catamaran. So yes, you can have both, a fast and fun cat to sail, and a comfortable home to travel the world. And I believe more of my friends and clients will see this perfect solution and consider following my lead. Outremer has built a solid reputation of building ocean-going cats for over 20 years and their new line of cats take advantage of all they have learned, and then incorporates modern thinking and design to achieve a perfect cat. To see their range and learn more about Outremer, see their website at http://www.catamaran-outremer.com
So in addition to reporting on my professional sailing around the world, I will also be updating everyone on my new adventure with Outremer.
Best wishes for a great year ahead, peter
I am about to wrap up another good year of professional sailing. It has been a busy year, having done the full Caribbean circuit, followed by a packed summer of racing in the Newport area, and finally some big events in Europe at the end of summer.
My goal for 2017 is quality, not quantity. And I am very excited about my two new projects, driving the TP52 PROVEZZA and the J Class yacht TOPAZ. It is interesting that after 10 years of being back on the Pro Sailing circuit following my 10 year stint in the Americas Cup that I have finally found myself back in the driving role, as opposed to the tactical role. The fact is that on the pro tour most of the available jobs are as tactician. And it’s a great role, basically leading the team, coaching an owner-driver, and playing the tricky tactical game. But the fact is that I spent 99% of my racing career as a driver, and making boats go fast is what i do best, and enjoy most, so I am super keen to be driving again.
And the two circuits that I will be racing in are the best two you could ask for- the 52 Super Series and the J Class. The 52 Super Series is the highest level of monohull racing in our sport, on par with the incredible racing we had in the Americas Cup before they switched to multihulls. The campaigns are totally professional and filled with the best talent in the sport. And the racing is razor close, with heaps of action. I will be sailing on PROVEZZA, a Turkish team, with Tony Rey as my tactician. We start training this week, and our first event will be Quantum Key West Race Week in mid January.
My other project is with the new J Class yacht TOPAZ. The J Class for those not aware, is the type of boats that were raced in the early 1900’s in the Americas Cup, huge 140 foot majestic beauties. Well there is now a revival taking place, where owners are either rebuilding an original, or building to the original plans, but with modern technology, particularly in the rig and sails. There are currently about 6 or 7 of these J boats sailing, and another 2 or 3 in build. And the racing is awesome. A mixture of history, grace, extreme loads, power, complex team work, and exciting racing. And this year is a big one, with a series of events planned to coincide with the Americas Cup in Bermuda, and then a World Championship in Newport.
So all good, really thrilled to have these wonderful programs lined up. Hoping to have a great year of racing, travel to some beautiful places, meet new people, and share good times with friends and competitors.
Wishing everyone a great 2017.