All bar one of the nine boats that competed in the Panerai Transat Classique, from Lanzarote in the Canary Islands to St Kitts in the WIndies, have crossed the line and are in Christophe Harbour. From the start only the three masted bermudan schooner Xarifa appeared to be heading due west, with the rest of the fleet bunched to sail south of the Canaries seeking the Trade Winds. But Xarifa‘s course soon converged and the fleet sailed across the Atlantic ocean as a group. Stiren, the 1963 Olin Stevens 48ft 8in (14,85m) inboard yawl owned by Oren Nataf led with some early competition from Eilean, the sponsors’ 1936 72ft 8in (22.2m) Fife ketch.
Lys a a 55ft (16.7m) S&S one off design built in Italy in 1955 and sailed by ocean racing veteran Philippe Monnet with a crew of septuagenarians did well to catch up with the fleet, after her start was delayed because of mechanical issues. She ended placing sixth in the end. The feat was all the more remarkable because electrical issues meant they could not receive any weather forecasts during the race.
One boat, Aramis a 37ft 5in (11.4m) GRP Maas design built in 1964 skippered by Christian Welter is still at sea; she had early problems with her rudder and had to put into Gran Canaria for 24 hrs to effect repairs. Bryell II the last boat into port on Monday night, had also suffered problems with a broken rudder over the preceding five days. Skippered by Jerome Cathala, she crossed the finish line to a very warm reception.
After the 1966 55ft (16.7m) S&S yawl Hilaria placed 4th over the line, retired Merchant marine captain Philippe Thurneyssen, owner, said: “The weather situation was difficult with some tricky tactical choices to make. We pushed the boat hard and we had a lot of things to do. The boom vang broke, we ripped a spinnaker and the blockers on the spinnaker brace got stuck in the carabiners, so we had to saw them off. Then Janette Danel made amazing Turkish hats to replace them. And then Noel rode at the top of the mast for almost 3 hours as we tried to untangle our spinnaker.
“The management of our water supply was also complicated because we realized after 3 days that we had consumed a third of our tanks. Since we did not have bottles, we made restrictions… and finally, we still have water. The atmosphere on board was great. I played the “good cop” and Noel, the tactician, the “bad cop” to manoeuvre the crew. The conditions were fantastic with gusts up to 43 knots in squalls, beautiful moons the second week, a beautiful dolphin for company. Now we will go down to Guadeloupe and, later, participate in the regattas of Antigua.”
Paolo Zangheri, owner of Coch y Bondhu, a 1936 18ton 49ft 6in (15.1m) Gauntlet came third in real time. He said: “I did not expect to have such complicated weather conditions at first. The first week, the wind was very unstable in strength and direction. We only reached the trade winds in the last week of the race. Halfway through, we had less wind, but a lot of squalls, day and night, with the wind rising to 30 knots, then dropping to two and then back to 30. It was very difficult to put up the spinnaker in these conditions and life on board was tiring with the boat rolling a lot. From the start, we were racing, ready to manoeuvre whenever necessary. Claudio made no mistake about the tactics and, besides, he is an excellent cook. On the 18th, we broke the boom: the boat moved from one side to the other and the boom hit a wave hard and broke at the level of the restraint.
“Ivana did an incredible job dismounting the hardware, resizing the remaining boom and reassembling it. In 24 hours, we were operational again, even though we sailed with two reefs until the finish. At first we were doing 3-hour watches, but with fatigue we changed to 2 hours. We all had this dream of crossing the Atlantic. Not only did we do it, but in addition racing a classic yacht… It’s fantastic! ”
Glenn Maël‘s owner Jean-Philippe Gervais is a wine expert who told us before the race he was going to uncork a special burgundy each night to discover which one best sumed up his 1973 36ft 10in (11.23 m) S&S one tonner. Coming 7th in real time and described the race as being more than one crossing: “We made several ocean crossings in one. There was the race itself, the one of our delusions on board and the one of the friendship betweenv the crew. We did well, with probably the shortest route of any competitor, but we sailed without pushing too hard. We ate very well – we were obliged to do so with our bottles of fine wine – with a good stew with cabbages, smoked fifet mignon, Marius vacuum mushrooms, sauteed asparagus tips … I was a little stressed the days before the start, and I didn’t feel well, but as soon as we left the quay, everything disappeared and on the starting line, we were immediately into the race. We steered 24 hours a day because we do not have an autopilot. The race brought a kind of beneficial tension. We also had a moment of amazement with the appearance of a dorsal fin 2m off the transom. We never had time to get bored, between sailing, bar hours, cooking, joking, trimming the spinnaker, sewing – eight hours on that spinnaker – and I barely had time to read three pages of my book. For all, it was our first Transatlantic and it is an incredible experience with these beautiful boats. ”
For Eilean it was skipper Stefano Valente’s second Atlantic crossing, the first as her mate shortly after she was restored in 2012. She came 5th: “I remember Angelo Bonati (former CEO of Panerai) saying: ‘If all the sailors are going well and the boat is in good shape, it’s a win.’ We sailed well, but were very quickly penalized after our gennaker exploded. We had another one, but it was very light that we could not use it above 10 knots of wind. We had to hoist, drop, hoist and drop again. Finally, we left it in the bag. We were making 15 knots at one point and could have sustained 10 knots plus, but not in the right direction. The boat is going fast. Eilean is made for crossings like this. The atmosphere on board was excellent even if tacking took time because everyone was laughing so hard! It was great. ”
Order of finishes on real time on 29/01
1 – XARIFA – Finished in 17 days 17 hours 30 minutes 31 seconds
2 – STIREN – Finished in 18 days 2 hours 5 minutes 50 seconds
3 – COCH Y BONOHU – Finished in 18 days 12 hours 15 minutes 38 seconds
4 – HILARIA – Finished in 18 days 12 hours 58 minutes 40 seconds
5 – EILEAN – Finished in 18 days 22 hours 43 minutes 49 seconds
6 – L YS -Finished in 19 days 6 hours 30 minutes 56 seconds
7 – GLEN MAEL – Finished in 19 days 13 hours 26 minutes 20 seconds
8 – BRYELL II – Finished in 20 days 11 hours 01 minutes 00 second
9 – ARAMIS – In race
The race is organised by the Atlantic Yacht Club; MORE HERE