After two delays to the start due to horrendous weather conditions, the RORC Transatlantic Race in association with the International Maxi Association started from Puerto Calero Marina at 1000 UTC, Sunday 30th November.
It was third time lucky as the RORC fleet departed Puerto Calero Marina, Lanzarote bound for Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina, Grenada West Indies, 3000 miles away across the Atlantic Ocean. Rain squalls had been disturbing the air in the early hours of the morning, but virtually nothing would have prevented the eager fleet to set off on the inaugural RORC Transatlantic Race. Sunshine and a gentle northerly breeze prevailed for the start – the only abnormal weather feature was a perfect double rainbow, pointing the way to the turning mark off Marina Lanzarote, Arrecife – the only mark of the course before the fleet would make landfall in Grenada.
American Class40, Oakcliff Racing, skippered by Hobie Ponting, got away well and took an inshore line to take the lead. However, the young team from Rhode Island were soon overhauled by a trio of Maxi yachts; Jean-Paul Riviere's French Finot 100, Nomad IV, Russian Southern Wind 94, Windfall skippered by Fabrizio Oddone and Jeremy Pilkington's British RP78, Lupa of London.
The rainbow was not the only surreal experience at the start, a fleet of young Spanish Optimist sailors had decided to use the yellow inflatable turning mark for a training session. However, three loud blasts from the coach's whistle recalled the young sailors to a safe position, as humming deck gear and huge sail area, announced the imminent arrival of the Maxi fleet. No doubt the young sailors will tell the tale for years to come.
Five hours into the race, Nomad IV had rounded the southern tip of Lanzarote just ahead of Windfall and Lupa of London. Derek Hatfield's Canadian Volvo 60, Spirit of Adventure was leading the chasing pack. Frank Lang's French X-40, Optim'X showed impressive speed, making the turning mark in the company of Class40, Oakcliff Racing and ahead of Nigel Passmore's British J/133, Apollo 7.
Quotes from the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race
Optim'X skipper, Frank Lang is taking part in his fifth Transatlantic race:
“I wanted to participate in this new RORC adventure and to share the experience with sailing friends,” commented Frank. “We’re looking forward to some fun racing and competition and to the long spinnaker surf rides bought on by the trade winds. It will be interesting to compare our result on corrected time with the big boats in the fleet.”
Don José Calero, President Calero Marinas:
“It has been an absolute pleasure to see the impressive racing machines for this inaugural RORC Transatlantic Race in Puerto Calero. We have enjoyed hosting the crews and helping them to discover our incredible island of Lanzarote and we are pleased that they seem to have appreciated everything that Puerto Calero Marina has to offer.”“We would like to thank Eddie Warden Owen and the RORC team for choosing Puerto Calero for what we very much hope will become an established and popular annual event and we are already looking forward to next year for the second edition of the RORC Transatlantic Race.”
RORC CEO, Eddie Warden Owen:
“Just over two years ago, the RORC decided to start a transatlantic race and it is just fantastic to see these yachts away. I am delighted to see a really competitive start. They were all pushing very hard, even though it is an endurance test for them, I am very proud to see them all going especially after the amazing weather we have had this week. The plan has come together, we have 11 boats for the first edition, but this race will grow and become a classic in the future.”
RORC Admiral & Secretary General of the IMA, Andrew McIrvine:
“It is an impressive sight to watch the Maxis powering away. Once the breeze came up, the acceleration was absolutely phenomenal and they just sped away from the rest of the fleet and I am sure the Maxis will have a great battle. They have only been going for an hour, but they are already changing sails and employing boat-on-boat tactics and the lead has changed three times already. This is a perfect race for Maxis at a perfect time of year to cross the Atlantic in superb conditions to take part in the IMA Caribbean season.”