Fifteen Class 40’s and international field racing in the second Atlantic Cup
In 2011, Mike Hennessy and his yacht Dragon won the offshore leg and placed second overall behind the winner of the inaugural Atlantic Cup, Cutlass. Both boats were designed by the most experienced and prolific Class 40 design office outside of France, Owen Clarke Design. On May 11th Hennessy will be joined by Class 40 designer Merfyn Owen who will race on Dragon in the first leg of this year’s Atlantic Cup from Charleston SC to New York. After racing Cutlass in 2009, Owen sailed with Hennessy in the 1010 Newport Bermuda Race, placing first against four other US based Class 40s.
This year’s Atlantic Cup though is set to be quite a different challenge with ten boats from Europe comprising the fifteen boat fleet, including international professional skippers with a wealth of experience in Mini Transat, Figaro and Class 40 races. Joerg Riechers winner of the recent Solidaire du Chocolat on the new Mare.De will be on the start line along with Whitbread and Volvo veterans Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron. Miranda co-skippered the first 40 Degrees (now Cutlass) to the 2008 Class Championship and Halvard Mabire sailed the second 40 Degrees to a second place in the 2010 Normandy Channel Race. Both just completed a half circumnavigation in their own PogoS2.
If ever there’s an opportunity for US based sailors who are interested to see the latest Class 40 hardware and talk to the sailors then this is it. Go to the stopovers in Charleston, New York or Newport and you’ll find the latest in Class 40 technology, the fourth generation of Class 40 designs in the form of the Manuard Mach 40, Mare.De and the Farr BT40 Bodacious Deream. On the dock, there will also be nine third generation designs (many of them launched in 2011), the Akilaria RC2, PogoS2, a Rogers 40 and Owen Clarke’s 40 Degrees 2, third in last year’s Transat Jacques Vabres, with American co-skipper Jesse Naimark-Rowse and Atlantic Cup entrant Hannah Jenner. Hannah’s sailing the Atlantic Cup this year with one of the Class’s most experienced Corinthian owner/drivers, Peter Harding.
The pre-race favourite must be the pro crew, Joerg Riechers and Marc Lepesqueux on Mare.De, the latest European Class 40 to be launched and winner of the recent transatlantic Solidaires du Chocolat. But, with the fleet brimming with talent and new boats the finishing order could be decided by the weather and individual strategy, especially if light winds prevail for a significant portion of the race. In this case the 2008 Dragon and the other older boats will have more of a level playing field against the more powerful newer generation designs.
The sixteen boat North American Class 40 scene is very strong, particularly on the east coast with ten boats, the latest two of which were launched in 2011 (Gryphon Solo) and 2012 (Bodacious Dream). There are eleven US sailors starting from Charleston on seven boats of which five are US flagged.
For more information about the race and how to follow it go to: www.atlanticcup.org