NEWPORT, R.I., USA (June 16, 2011) – The extremes of crossing the Atlantic Ocean will be experienced very differently by crews on the longest and shortest yachts competing in the upcoming Transatlantic Race 2011 (TR 2011). This adventure challenge, which aims to add 2,975 nautical miles to its participants’ log books, is co-organized by the Royal Yacht Squadron, New York Yacht Club, Royal Ocean Racing Club and Storm Trysail Club. The TR 2011 starts off Castle Hill in Newport, R.I. (on Sunday, June 26; Wednesday, June 29; and Sunday, July 3) and expects to greet its first finisher off Lizard Point in South Cornwall (UK) sometime in mid-July, depending on many things, not the least of which are the lengths of the boats making the crossing.
On the one hand there is the Perini Navi designed Maltese Falcon, at 289 feet, one of the largest privately-owned sailboats in the world. On the other there are two Class 40s, which at 40 feet are specially designed for short-handed offshore and coastal racing. These extremes are punctuated by the fact that Maltese Falcon looks every bit the world cruiser, with stem-to-stern luxury incorporated into its design, while the Class 40s seem relatively stark–even like dinghies–in comparison. But each team at either end of the spectrum has its reasons for undertaking the TR2011 challenge, and each team intends to succeed, if not win.
"The experience of sailing on Maltese Falcon is incredible," said the boat’s longtime captain Chris Gartner (Antibes, France). "Since there is no other boat in the world like it, it’s really a one-off. Every time I go sailing on her and we get her wound up, I’m almost in awe just looking up at the rigs."
The yacht’s three self-standing and rotating carbon fiber masts, which carry 15 sails with a combined sail area the size of three and a half tennis courts (25,833 square feet), are of such an imposing height–190 feet, in fact—that recent visitors to Newport have experienced ―the Falcon‖ at almost eye level as thaey’ve crossed the 206’ high Claiborne Pell Bridge, which serves as the gateway to Narragansett Bay and its adjacent Newport Harbor.
With its long waterline and such magnificent sail power, Gartner thinks Maltese Falcon has a good chance to win, but "it’s hit or miss with the weather," he says. "If we get good pressure coming up behind us and we stay with it, we could finish this race nicely."
Gartner added that logging 500-mile days would make Maltese Falcon’s voyage about six days, but longer is more likely. "If we do it in less than 12, I would be very happy," he said, noting that the World Sailing Speed Record Council will ratify a new Newport to Lizard Point race record based on the fastest yacht’s elapsed time.
And while Maltese Falcon will be dry and comfortable, and sailing with a large crew, the two Class 40s will be roughing it with minimum comfort, eating freeze-dried food and sailing with anywhere from two to six onboard.