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transatlantic race

A Maverick review of the RORC 2016 Transatlantic Race

A Maverick review of the RORC 2016 Transatlantic Race

Our founder Quentin reviews the Maverick 2016 RORC Transatlantic Race...

The team had planned to join the RORC Transatlantic race 12 months prior and in a moment of mental frailty I folded to the dream of a trade wind fuelled blast to the Caribbean, average weather routing of about 9 to 10 days. I flew into Lanzarote with some trepidation. The latest forecast had a routing of 14 days and looked to be taking us to the Arctic. Not at all the warm water sled ride I had signed up for.

Our yacht Maverick is a 46ft race boat. Down below she is a mobile sail loft, all mod cons and creature comforts were designed out. On deck at speed, which is our preferred operational mode, the experience is akin to a wash down with a fire hose. All good fun for 3 days on the traditional 600 mile classics, but 14 days seemed a psychological bridge to far.

A beautiful first afternoon turned into a grim 24 hours as we had to beat in 20knts and sharp chop to clear the Canaries. You can roll with those punches if there is some fun to come, but that’s not to be our luck. We are mid Atlantic with 2,500 miles to go in a high pressure system taking us North when we want to go South having to use our mast head zero in 5knts of breeze. That’s when I knew it was going to be a long two weeks.

After about 8 days we finally found some trade winds and we were off. On this boat there is nothing quite as enjoyable as smashing out miles with easy speed, in a constant breeze on a long swell. After 2 or 3 days of enjoying ourselves we had given up all pretence of trying to stay dry, board shorts were on, it was warm and what could possibly go wrong.

It must be 48 years since I last had nappy rash. Thanks to RORC I have new found respect for crying babies. We were all struggling to a greater or lesser extent and despite having every conceivable bit of safety kit and extensive medical supplies for a Cat 1 rating, no one had remembered to pack the Sudocream.

Around day 11 our spirits were lifted as we crossed paths with a gentleman 4 weeks into his crossing (and still some 500 miles out) who expressed some surprise that we thought it sensible to be using a kite. Smug as we felt blasting away, expecting our pain to be over in about 2 days, his scepticism prove prophetic and within 24 hours we were quickly relived of all of our nylon.

As with all great adventures things got a bit tougher. One of the pins that hold our oversized bowsprit in place failed. A bit of frantic lashing and a winch handle were the best repair we could come up with; patently inadequate to deal with the loads on the sprit if the 2nd pin failed. After ten minutes of quite reflection on the relative importance of beer, shower, Sudocream, food and a bed (in any particular order) against the cost of replacing the sprit, it was no contest and up went the fractional zero (our last big sail) to the end of the prod. We kept a wary eye on the bowsprit which proceeded to move not 1 millimetre.

The last day was the usual roller coaster of emotions. The class win was there but we needed wind, which of course died. Resigned to a near miss we put in the gybe to set course for Grenada and from nowhere we had 20knts at 110 degrees. The yacht took off and within 7 or so hours we were tied up to a warm welcome from the RORC and Camper and Nicholsons team drinking the first of many cold beers. After 3000 miles of racing we pipped Leopard on handicap by about half an hour.

This was a proper race and not a crossing. It was a test of endurance for the boat and the team. As ever the organisation by RORC and the facilities provided by the marinas at both ends were first class. It is an event which we should be proud of and need to nurture because it offers a real test to those committed to offshore racing.

Would I go again; of course (just don’t tell my long suffering wife). However I might see if Mike Slade could spare a berth on Leopard, by all accounts a more comfortable experience.


Kees Postma RORC Transatlantic Race blog: Day 5

Kees Postma RORC Transatlantic Race blog: Day 5

Hello world!

Kees here, bringing you the latest from rocketship Maverick. As I sit here in Eric's office, the guys on deck are foiling at 18 kts of boat speed in 16 knots of wind. Finally we get a chance to use this boat like it was meant to!

After a few days of straightforward sailing today has been an eventful day. We started the day with the Masthead Zero, then changed to the A2 for better downwind VMG. Now we are cycling through our sail wardrobe as the breeze is shifting forward and building. We've seen the Fractional Zero for a few hours, right now its the Jib Top and Genoa Staysail combination, and sometime tonight it will be the J2 which is ready to go on deck. Hopefully these conditions will allow us to make some gains on Aragon and Leopard before we're back to a bit of upwind sailing.

Today is also Sean McCarter's birthday! He failed to mention this to any of us but fortunately Skipper Olly got a reminder email. We all celebrated with a swig of rum and the birthday boy had a 1000 calorie Chicken Korma for his birthday lunch. What more can a man wish for!

Last night we saw an enormous piece of space junk that made its way into the atmosphere, we think no more than 50 miles away. It lit up the whole boat and lasted for a number of seconds. We concluded that in space terms this classifies as a near miss and we are now space junk survivors.

After so many days, weeks, months of working on this yacht it is nice to get the chance to enjoy and learn her for more than just two or three days at a time.

Thanks for reading, Kees out.

Navigator Eric Holden's RORC Transat Blog: Day 3

Navigator Eric Holden's RORC Transat Blog: Day 3

Day 3 Blog

Conditions have been pretty gentle today with winds of 5-10 kts and a light northerly swell. This has allowed us to chase down some gremlins in the boat systems. We have an oil leak in the hydraulic system, air is getting into the watermaker plumbing, and we're getting about half the expected output from the hydrogenerator. Earlier we fixed an electrical fault in the bilge pumps and boat instruments. The watermaker is behaving again and we're monitoring the other problems which aren't critical at this stage.

With the weather as benign as it currently is, the team is asking when we might see the trade winds. I hesitate to answer as it looks like we're stuck with what we've got for the next few days. This is not really the conditions that suit us over the larger boats but as we're still making progress and sailing a couple knots above the wind speed we don't have much to complain about.

A nice perk in these conditions is that we're all getting plenty of rest while the boat glides along gently. This is a treat as when she gets moving she is noisy and rough, and sleep only gets easy once exhaustion sets in.

Until later....Eric

Sean McCarter RORC transat crew blog Day 3

Sean McCarter RORC transat crew blog Day 3

Good morning sports fans!

Team Maverick are well underway in this years RORC Transatlantic race. To be totally honest, it wasn't the start we were looking for with almost 24hrs upwind. Some of the bigger yachts are definitely better suited to punching through short, steep seas than our 5.5 tonne flyer.

At lunchtime today, we finally hoisted the first kite of the race and have been sitting comfortably between 12-17 kts (in similar wind speed) making good use of our DSS foil.

It's hard to complain; blasting into the sunset, impressive volcanic-backdrop of La Gomera to port and a delicious bag of Expeditions finest freeze-dried Spaghetti Bolognaise......

(big gap in typing...... as Sean gets called on-deck)

Sorry about that. As I was writing this I must have jinxed us as the wind shadow reached out from La Palma to grab us. We are all good after some quick crew work we are back in the gradient wind and making good boat speeds.

Anyway I have been up now for three watches so am going to sign off.

PS Can someone tell me how much Ireland beat Australia by?

Sean McCarter out...

Maverick RORC Transat skipper blog: Day 3

Maverick RORC Transat skipper blog: Day 3

Good Morning Team Maverick Fans!

Day 3 08:40 UTC

Firstly let me apologies that this is the first time we are checking in. As you will gather from this blog the race has been reasonably challenging thus far.

Next we would like to send our love to Nikki Curwen who had to step off the boat at the last minute for medical reasons. She put in a huge amount of work shoreside to make this journey possible and we are all thinking of her.

Our start was good. We hit the line soon after the gun with our GS (Genoa Staysail) and JT (Jib top) we did think it strange that everyone else had elected for a J1. Things were to become a little clearer. Most of the fleet were pushing inshore... It soon became apparent why, there was a mark inshore off Puerto Del Carmen. Whoops somehow we missed this in our planning... Thus having having sailed lower than the rest of the fleet we had given them all a lot of time on the course and we made the long tack inshore to round the mark.

Mistakes happen its how you deal with them that counts. As a team we focused on working our way back through the fleet. Luckily the mistake was realised early enough so that the consequences were not too bad. We rounded the mark just after Pata Negra and soon were working our way back toward the head of the fleet.

As we left the lea of Lanzarote we changed to a J2 and full main combination for what would be a 200nm beat upwind. This was NOT in the brochure. This is the toughest point of sail for a crew just putting to sea and there were one or two who were suffering the effects of the green monster but pushing through.

Anyone who knows the yacht also knows that this is our least effective point of sail in terms of rating. We have a strong rating but a small waterline so upwind into a short sharp chop does not suit us at all. However as I write this our navigator Eric is happy with our position in the fleet and is confident we will see more of “our” conditions.

Another unexpected feature has been the squalls. I think it is fair to say that this race is not occurring in a “traditional” Atlantic weather pattern. Usually you get at least a few after leaving before you need to worry about squalls. We we have been getting them from day 1!

Usually I am used to having a RADAR. This is a very useful tool for plotting the movement of squalls and it gives you an idea of their size and potential intensity. Unfortunately as is the case of many yachts this size we do not have it so we rely on the Mark 1 eyeball. This is made all the more tricky at night as there will not be a good moon for this race.

Anyway we have been hit by numerous squalls. We have seen 36 kts of wind in the strongest what we call “givers” and 0 kts what we call “takers”. We have sat wallowing after one but went foiling at 17 kts during another., you really never can tell! One thing is for sure though. squalls mean crew work and as a result we have already used nearly every sail in our wardrobe already! The crew have been working really hard and I am certain I can count on that continuing.

Anyway I am due on watch. The crew are well and moral is good. We are currently in great conditions making good progress under our M0. We expect the wind to ease over the course of the morning as we push westwards.

“A climb to the top of a mountain no matter how large starts with the decision to take the first step”

Olly out...