After initial sea trials on the Hauraki Gulf, Speedboat was shipped to Newport to prepare for its debut in the New York YC's Annual Regatta and the Bermuda Race. A day before its first race, I joined the crew for a day of training.
Once on board, it doesn't take too long to get used to the size. In many obvious respects, it's like any other race boat, just larger. But this level of comfort was fleeting.
The deck, for example, is cambered, the rail chamfered to save weight. The winch drums feature two-stage non-skid to aid with the easing of loaded sheets and halyards. The 14-foot bowsprit, which has the maximum girth of an offensive lineman, is integral to the hull.
Getting the main up requires two halyards-one for either end of the massive flat-top head-and two men aloft. Getting the headsail of choice out of the hold requires five burly grinders and a halyard.
Once we unfurl the Code Zero-a $200,000 sail according to one crewmember-and we are sailing upwind with the speedo comfortably in double digits, I join the 20 or so crew not involved with the sailing the boat on the rail, our feet dangling over the massive lead bulb of the canting keel.
Moments later, the final shards of comfort evaporate with a sudden powerful bang; the sort of noise that has everyone ducking and then checking body parts. One of the titanium anchors for the outhaul ram has broken free. It's not fatal, we'll sail the rest of the day with a little extra depth in the mainsail. But, it serves as one final reminder that while this radical boat may have the same key components as every other sloop, it's like nothing I've ever sailed.