What do the canting keel Ker 56, Varuna; swift-sailing Swan 60, Emma; and super maxi, CQS, have in common? These high-powered yachts are among the near record 30 teams expected to compete in the 4th RORC (Royal Ocean Racing Club) Transatlantic Race, which finishes this month at Camper & Nicholsons’ Port Louis Marina, in Grenada, after a 3000-mile race departing in late November from Marina Lanzarote, in the Canary Islands. This fleet includes transatlantic veterans and some of the world’s top offshore professional sailors, as well as regular RORC racers and individuals notching up their sea miles with a highly qualified skipper on a race charter boat. Even better, most, if not all, will be staying in the Caribbean and participating in the region’s late winter and spring regattas.
“The Transatlantic Race is the lengthiest in the RORC’s offshore calendar,” explains spokesperson Trish Jenkins. “It originally started as a feeder race to get RORC members, serious race boats and teams who wanted to race across the Atlantic to the Caribbean to compete in the RORC Caribbean 600, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in February in Antigua.”
Just for this year, the RORC Transatlantic Race is part of the Atlantic Anniversary Regatta (AAR). The AAR celebrates the Hamburg, Germany-based Norddeutscher Regatta Verein’s (NRV) 150th anniversary in 2018 and features two transatlantic sails in one year: the RORC Transatlantic Race leg and a return sail from Bermuda to Hamburg, starting July 8th 2018. It’s the added German entries in the AAR, plus competitors from nearly ten countries and crews from many more, who will arrive in Grenada.
Two entrants in both the AAR and RORC Transatlantic Race are Germany’s Jens Kellinghusen, aboard Varuna and France’s Eric de Turckheim, sailing his Nivelt-Muratet 54, Teasing Machine. Both yachts are relatively the same size, new to the racing circuit and favorites to win under the IRC handicap rule. However, there are important differences between the two.
“Varuna has a canting keel and a powerful hull shape,” says Teasing Machine’s tactician Laurent Pages, winner of the 2011-2012 Volvo Ocean Race as tactician and alternate helmsman aboard Groupama 4. “Teasing Machine is a fixed keel. I have no doubt that Varuna will be quicker in strong reaching conditions, but racing across the Atlantic is not a straight forward sprint; there are local effects and you need to always be looking forward to getting your strategy right. Varuna should be ahead of us for the race. However, after time correction, Teasing Machine has the ability to change that.”
Germany’s Johann Killinger and co-owner of the Swan 60, Emma, Alfred Paulsen, will sail their first Atlantic race, with Paulsen at the helm. Emma is registered in both the AAR and RORC Transatlantic Race.
This “is a dream for him, (Paulsen),” says Emma’s captain, Sven Hadler. “Emma’s crew are all from Germany and very experienced. We started an Atlantic race in 2012 with Emma and had to retire due to an injury on board, so this is unfinished business. Our first goal is to finish, to be safe and to try our best. When racing you are always serious, but we will also have fun. We have heard that this race has a great atmosphere, and we are looking forward to meeting other competitors and making new friends.”
One of the largest and most high-profile boats this year is CQS, Finland’s Ludde Ingvall’s 100ft high-performance super maxi racing yacht. Originally slated to compete in this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Ludde and sponsor Sir Michael Hintze had to withdraw from the Australian race due to a shipping schedule change that meant the boat could not return Down Under in time to properly prepare.
“The up-side of this schedule change is that we will have the chance to help support the Caribbean communities devastated by the recent hurricane by entering some of the events on their circuit,” says Ingvall.
The first finishers are expected in Grenada between December 2nd to 5th, with the bulk of the fleet arriving December 6th to 8th, and the late finishers December 9th to 14th.
Once in Grenada, the fleet will enjoy a warm welcome.
“We are thrilled to welcome the 100-plus visiting sailors taking part in the 2017 RORC Transatlantic Race to Grenada and provide them with baskets containing some of our finest rums and chocolates flavored with our island-grown spices,” says Nikoyan Roberts, manager of nautical development for the Grenada Tourism Authority. “Sailors will have the opportunity to relax on our white sand beaches and visit amazing waterfalls and historic forts. The prize-giving festivities will take place December 12th.”
For more information and to track the fleet, visit: http://rorc transatlantic.rorc.org
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.