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Panerai Transat Classique 2012

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Panerai Transat Classique - White Dolphin sails to victory
Panerai Transat Classique – White Dolphin sails to victory

White Dolphin won the Panerai Transat Classique 2012, the spectacular transatlantic race for classic and vintage yachts organized by the Atlantic Yacht Club and sponsored by Officine Panerai. As her prize, the 1967 Marconi ketch received a Luminor 1950 Rattrapante 8 Days Titanio, a Special Edition watch created by Panerai for the event and featuring the Transat Classique logo on its case.  Having started from Cascais, Portugal, on December 2nd, White Dolphin sailed into Barbados on December 23rd ahead of Corto and the oldest member of the fleet, The Blue Peter (1930), which finished third.

White Dolphin ran a perfect race and finished first on elapsed time and corrected time on the leg between Saint-Tropez and Cascais, and in the main event from Cascais to Barbados. These victories owe much to the ketch’s magnificent lines but also to the skill, determination and enthusiasm of her crew led by her owner Pascal Stefani and skipper Yann Delplace. Demonstrating a spirit of solidarity and ingeniousness, they battled with the technical problems that characterized their passage — engine and generator problems, torn spinnaker, broken boom track. But they also enjoyed some memorable moments with unforgettable night watches, thrilling surfing and spectacular sunsets.

“We had our racing heads on throughout the race, first to catch up and overtake The Blue Peter and then to hold on to our lead,” says Pascal Stefani. “We also had to ward off the attacks by Corto and Persephone, the two rivals threatening us on corrected time. Our best option was to head directly south, going east around the Canaries. There, we found some wind while our opponents were stuck in light airs. But even if it was a significant moment, we still had a lot to do to win the race.”

Between Cascais and Barbados, the wind blew mostly from the east however the crews had to put up with tiring choppy seas. The most affected were the smaller boats in the fleet. Cooking was sometimes impossible and sleeping was almost a gymnastic experience.

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“The three guys on board are heavyweights and easily wedged themselves into their bunks. Whereas I’m much lighter and couldn’t stop rolling from one side to the other,” says Juliette Petres of Cipango.

Despite the discomfort, everyone agreed that it was a magnificent adventure, especially Pascal Stefani, owner of White Dolphin and outright winner of the Panerai Transat Classique 2012. After receiving his Panerai watch, Pascal had this message for the organizers: “We all had the same dream; thanks for helping us make it come true.”

During the prize-giving ceremony, the atmosphere was particularly emotional. Those present were extremely touched by Elizabeth Kelman (7) and Matthew Kelman (6) as they collected their special prize.

The good-humoured competitiveness of the sailors was also on display, especially in the case of two crews who fought a race-within-a-race. Gérald Ravache, the young proprietor of Gimcrack, presented Maurice Benzaquen, owner of Cipango, with a piece of the spinnaker halyard and snap hook that gave way during the latter stages of the race to deprive them of any hope of crossing the line before their rival. This offering was also a symbol of how the crews pushed their boats hard but always in full knowledge of their limits.

Some of the competitors remained in the Caribbean to take part in the Barbados Round the Island Race and the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, one of the main events of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge.


Name  |  Built  |  Designer  |  LOA  |  Rig
White Dolphin  |  1967  |  Vincenzo Beltrami  |  20.2m  |  yawl
Corto  |  1970  |  Dick Carter  |  13m  |  sloop
The Blue Peter  |  1930  |  Alfred Mylne  |  19.65m  |  sloop
Persephone  |  1969  |  Dick Carter  |  11.3m  |  sloop
Gweneven  |  1975  |  Olin Stephens  |  11.6m  |  sloop
Valteam  |  1965  |  Renato Levi  |  22.25m |   yawl
Gimcrack  |  1961  |  David Simmonds  |  11.58m  |  yawl
Croix des Gardes  |  1947  |  Henri Dervin  |  15.3m
Cipango  |  1966  |  Franz Maas  |  11m  |  sloop
Artaius  |  1999  |  Nigel Irens  |  6.31m  |  gaffer
Marie des Isles  |  1973  |  Daniel Bombigher  |  20m  |  gaff schooner

Rally Category                
Red Hackle  |  1989  |  German Frears  |  18.28m  |  ketch

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Gary Brown
Gary Brownhttp://garyebrown.net
Gary E. Brown is the Editorial Director of All At Sea Caribbean. He is a presenter on Island 92, 91.9 FM, St. Maarten, and the author of the thriller/sailing adventure Caribbean High. For more information, visit: garyebrown.net

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