Friday, April 08, 2005

"I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm's way." - John Paul Jones

The NYYC’s 2005 Rolex Transatlantic begins May 21, 20 - an epic race where the world's largest and fastest sailing yachts cross the North Atlantic. It’s the centennial anniversary of the 1905 race where the record time set by the race winner, 185-foot three-masted schooner Atlantic, set a high water mark for transatlantic crossings not yet bested by a monohull racing without powered winches. My family has some personal history with the Atlantic – in the 1970’s my Grandfather invested in a partnership with the goal of restoring the old yacht and outfitting her for charter. I have distant memories of waving them off as they took her out of a New Jersey shore harbor down the coast to the boatyard to be appraised. The high cost of restoring her doomed the enterprise, but my Grandmother still talks about when her husband almost “bought” the Atlantic. In 1905 Atlantic crossed to Lizard on England's Cornish coast in 12 days, 4 hours, 1 minute and 19 seconds. For more history on this fabled vessel pick up "Atlantic: The Last Great Race of Princes." According to the WSSRC (World Sailing Speed Record Council), the “Transatlantic, Ambrose Light Tower to Lizard Point, Crewed” record set by the Atlantic in 1905 was bested in 1980 by the trimaran Paul Ricard from France. The current record (4d 17h 28m 6s) was set in 2001 by Steve Fossetts multihull PlayStation. Mari-Cha IV, a 141-foot canting keel two-masted schooner, is the current holder of the WSSRC transatlantic monohull record - 6 days, 17 hours, 52 minutes and 39 seconds. It may be a bit confusing but when 20 competing yachts begin the 2005 Rolex Transatlantic off of New York in May its worth noting that the Atlantic's time was set without being able to choose an optimal departure date, before GPS and satellite communications – an age when weather forecasting was about intuition, not data.

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