Grand Prix Sailor–Monday Morning Digest

Carnage in the Route du Rhum

November 27, 2002
Brad Van Liew

Grand Prix Sailor is a 13-year-old racing news publication of Sailing World
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Route du Rhum
The Atlantic in November can be a very ugly place, no matter what type of vessel you’re on and how much experience you have. This year’s edition of the Route du Rhum has been a fine example. Of the 18 Open 60 trimarans that started, only three have survived the trip from France to Guadeloupe.

Sailing through the wreckage’a t one point appallingly close to one overturned tri’was Europe’s diminutive sailing star, Ellen MacArthur, who not only won the monohull Open 60 class, but beat every surviving trimaran boat for boat, and set a new course record; 13d:13h:31m, two days, five hours and 52 minutes off the previous monohull mark set in 1994 by Yves Parlier. ‘”That was one hell of a race,’ said MacArthur shortly after the finish. ‘The stress levels were hardly ever below maximum, I could not have given any more, the intensity has been extraordinary.’


The finish of the Route du Rhum isn’t any walk in the park either, instead of a grateful finish off a sea buoy at a harbor entrance, there’s an extra 82 miles to be sailed once the exhausted solo sailors reach Guadeloupe. The following details the end-of-race mini-leg. “The finish will be approached from the south of Guadeloupe. The competitors first have to pass the two islands La Destrade and Petit Terre to the left, then pass a waypoint off
Pointe ‘ Pitre, to continue west and round a buoy off Basse-Terre (southwest part of Guadeloupe) before heading back towards the finish line off Point ‘ Pitre. These 82 last miles close to the island of Guadeloupe will take around 7 hours for the monohulls and 5 hours for the multihulls. From the Basse-Terre buoy it will take approximately one and a half to two hours to the finish line. There is always a risk of getting stuck in light winds lee
of the island.”

MacArthur’s Offshore Challenges teammate Nick Moloney, sailing his Open 50 Ashfield Healthcare, is 596 nautical miles from Guadeloupe finish line as of Monday afternoon GMT. Second placed Luc Coquelin on Florys is 188.3 miles astern. Moloney is not just on pace to win the Open 50 Class, he stands a good chance of beating ten of the Open 60 boats that are still racing.

The winner of the devastated Open 60 Trimaran class is Geant, skippered by Michel Desjoyeaux. Fore the full story and to follow the 23 boats still racing, check out


Both Sailing World and Cruising World Magazines announced their 2003 Boat of the Year contest winners last Thursday in St. Petrsburg, Fla. Tops for SW was the 18-foot Javelin II, a high performance catamaran not intended for beginners. For all the winners, see’articleID=1507

Rolex Sydney Hobart Race 58 Strong
When entry applications closed on Friday 56 starters, the smallest number in 36 years, had been counted. “Certainly it’s down a little bit on numbers, but quality-wise it’s tremendous,” said Peter Campbell, the race’s media director said. “It’s a great fleet led by some of the best boats in the world.”

Sailing in this year’s edition will be Neville Crichton’s new Reichel/Pugh Shockwave, Mike Slade’s re-built and lengthened Leopard of London , the 2000 line honors winner Nicorette, Wild Thing, and Brindabella.


Smaller, but dangerous on corrected time will be the Farr 49 Sting (nee Yendys, the 1999 winner), Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin, and the Nelson/Marek 46 Quest. For the first time in Sydney Hobart history, there will be a One Design division, five Sydney 38s. To follow this race, which begins on Dec. 26, see

High Altitude Racing in Mexico
Competition begins today for the XIX Central American and Caribbean Games. While the main games are being held in San Salvador, the sailing event takes place in Mexico, nearly 6000 feet above sea level in the town of Valle de Bravo.

Classes include the IMCO One-Design for men and women, the Laser for men, and the Laser Radial for women . Hobie 16 and J/24 classes will be open. Although this is the first time that the sailing part of the games has been held on an inland lake, the venue should be perfect, Valle de Bravo, is the home water of most of Mexico’s J/24 sailors, and will be hosting the J/24 North Americans in 2003. To follow the racing, see http://, the website of ISAF


Want to make sure you get the good stuff at Christmas? Over the past year, we’ve reviewed plenty of great items for racing sailors, and the reviews have been put together online. Tell Santa to check out’articleID=1507

Terra Nova Trading Key West Race Week Preview
As of November 23, there are 134 boats entered in Key West Race Week, which runs Jan. 20-24. With an initial final deadline of Dec.11, there will most likely be a flood of procrastinators entering in the next few weeks.

Standouts in the fleet include two of the as yet unseen Farr 36s, which will be racing in the (so far) 48-boat-strong PHRF fleet. The largest boats in the PHRF fleet are two Farr 65s, which will be crewed by two competing teams of sailors from the United States and Great Britain. Also dueling it out in PHRF will be at least two of the West Coast’s TP-52s, Rosebud and Victoria 5.

Look for the IMS class to grow, as the IMS 50s, after a great Fall series in Annapolis, look to continue their competition off Key West. Numbers 97 and Canvasback are entered; Idler, Uarshek II, Ptarmigan, and Javelin can’t be far behind.

The one design fleets will also be flocking south. Thirteen Farr 40s, including a chartered boat sailing with a crew from France which includes Franck Cammas sailing as tactician. Other big names sailing as tacticians in this owner/driver class include Robbie Haines, Steve Benjamin, and Stu Bannatyne. The J/109s are flocking, with 19 entered so far, and the Melges 24 class looks strong, with 14 entries, including last year’s winner Blu
Moon, with Mascalzone Latino survivor Flavio Flavini on the helm. Eight F-28Rs, including the interestingly-named Porn Star, will represent the multihull community.

To follow the entries, enter your boat in the regatta, put your name on a crew list, or to just follow the action in January, see

Around Alone
This weekend was a fruitful one for Brad van Liew on Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America. In addition to closing the gap on Cape Town by more than 700 miles, he also set a new 24 hour distance record. From 0300 Saturday morning until 0300 Sunday morning (GMT) Brad ran an incredible 345.03 miles. That’s an average speed of 14.37 knots and is likely to be recognized as the longest distance sailed by a 50-foot monohull sailboat when it’s ratified by the World Sailing Speed Council.

The previous longest distance was recorded by J.P. Mouligne in the 1998-99 Around Alone race. JP sailed 333.6 miles aboard his Finot designed Open 50, Cray Valley (now sailed as Ashfield Healthcare by Nick Moloney.

As of Monday morning van Liew had 488 miles to go to the finish in Cape Town. If he continues at a reasonable pace Brad should be able to join his wife and new baby for their first Thanksgiving together. Thanksgiving is this Thursday. His rough ETA is for a daylight finish on Wednesday. For the rest of this article, see http//

Grand Prix Sailor and Grand Prix Sailor–America’s Cup Edition are weekly newsletters compiled by the editors of Sailing World magazine. If you’d like to
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Contributing Editors: Tony Bessinger ([email protected]), Dave Reed ([email protected]), Stuart Streuli ([email protected]), John Burnham ([email protected])


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