Cole Brauer – A Woman’s Breath Over the Ocean

By Margherita Pelaschier / Global Solo Challenge

Cole Brauer, a young American sailor, entered in the Global Solo Challenge aboard her Class40 First Light, adds a feminine touch to the event with her infectious enthusiasm and passion for sailing. Cole works tirelessly to prepare for her round-the-world trip and has assembled a team that shares her values and assists her in managing the project. “Sailing is both my profession and my hobby; I never take breaks. Preparing for a round-the-world race means constantly thinking about the next step. Thankfully, I have an extraordinary team that supports me and tries to relieve the psychological pressure so I can focus solely on the race aspect. Moreover, I wholeheartedly believe in my boat and her equipment.”

For her round-the-world journey, Brauer chose a boat to which she is sentimentally attached: “I’ve always wanted to sail around the world and envisioned doing it on a boat I know, love, and trust. For this reason, I chose First Light. To me, she embodies all of this. When we’re at sea, I talk to her as if she were my child. When she’s fine, I’m fine. We have a wonderful relationship and deep mutual understanding: when things aren’t going right, I feel she’s showing me she’s doing her best to improve the situation. Furthermore, as a Class40, she was born and built sturdy and resilient for challenges like this.”

First Light was previously named Dragon, and Cole had captained the boat for four years before she was sold to the Day brothers, who subsequently changed her name. The two brothers didn’t have enough time for the boat, so they asked Cole if she’d continue sailing her and develop a racing program. Initially hesitant and busy with other boats, Cole eventually agreed and relocated to Florida, where First Light was based. She participated in various races, honing her skills and forming an even stronger bond with the Class40. This led to her desire to expand her horizons to international competitions. “The original plan wasn’t to participate in the GSC; I wanted to compete in the Transat Jacques Vabre. However, when one of the Day brothers asked if there was a chance to win it, I said ‘no.’ Given her age, First Light wouldn’t be competitive.”

First Light is a 2008 Class40, designed by Owen Clarke Designs and built in the UK by Composite Creations, the same model as ZeroChallenge (formerly Fuji) sailed by Ari Känsäkoski.

The Owen Clarke design studio, based in Dartmouth, UK, with branches in the USA and New Zealand, is renowned for designing performance cruising and racing boats, superyachts, and high-latitude exploration boats. Their designs range from Mini 6.50s to eighteen Class40s and eight IMOCAs that participated in the Vendée Globe, culminating in the creation of a massive 75-meter aluminum schooner.

Founders Merfyn Owen and Allen Clarke began collaborating in 1993, bringing their unique skills to the table to devise high-performance, seaworthy, and attractive vessels. Merfyn Owen, a graduate of University College London, boasts extensive experience not just in naval architecture but also as a sailor with over 250,000 miles covered in races and expeditions. Allen Clarke, trained at Falmouth Boat Building College and Southampton Institute, is a reference point in the world of Class40s and in the development of fast cruising boats. He gives particular attention to details and aesthetics, thanks to his previous career as an interior designer.

In preparation for the Global Solo Challenge, First Light underwent a detailed refit and thorough examination at the Newport Shipyard in Newport, Rhode Island. “By November 2022, the mast and rigging had already been replaced and are now brand new. First Light was in the yard from June to September this year. The mainsail track on the mast has been reinforced. The keel was inspected, repaired, and subsequently reattached. All running rigging, including halyards and sheets, have been renewed. The team dedicated an entire month to reinstalling the equipment, making sure every single detail was examined. We only entered the GSC a few months ago and therefore started preparations later than other teams. Without the patience and understanding of Newport Shipyard, which believed in this project from the start, none of this would have been possible. First Light’s sails, made by North Sails, are new, and during the Atlantic crossing to A Coruña, I had the opportunity to test them, and I was pleased with the results…”

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Continue to the GSC website…

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