Monohull winnerWith Mike Slade's Leopard, the monohull Round the Island record holder undergoing major repairwork after sustaining damage to her rudder mid-Atlantic and then as she was being shipped back to the UK, the monohull line honours winner for the Observer Trophy was Alex Cooper on board the Dutch Whitbread 60 Sunergy. This was the boat which Roy Heiner skippered in the 1997/8 Whitbread Round the World Race.
Cooper works for the fixed income division of Morgan Stanley in Canary Wharf, London and chartered the boat from her Dutch owners as a corporate entertainment exercise for his clients. "I want to get people involved in the teamwork of working the boat in a competitive environment and using the formula of having a fast boat this is demanding to sail on a race that is not too long has worked for us."
This is the third consecutive year he has chartered the boat. "It's just gets better and better," Cooper told madfor sailing. They sail the boat over from Rotterdam a trip which they use as an opportunity to carry out some pre-race training.
In addition to his corporate guests Cooper was racing with his brother and two experienced sailing friends, plus three Dutch sailors representing the boat's owners. "The rest are customers who enjoy sailing. We had 14 crew on board in total," Cooper said. He and his brother were brought up sailing by their father who was in the army. He now mostly sails out of Aldeburgh, Suffolk on his own Halcyon 27, while his brother owns an Alan Buchanan 32 and races an RS400.
Of the race Cooper says the Whitbread 60 enjoyed the hard beat up the Solent. "We seemed to be making ground on everyone. We've been getting some practice at pointing, and it went fine, we were not too overpowered." However he felt their performance downwind was not as good as it had been last year. "We had to put a few more gybes after St Cats than we did last year. But we had a powerful run up to the Fort and a reasonable beat."
The only hair raising moment of the trip came when they approached the finish line and went into a broach because they had too much main on.
Their elapsed time was 5 hours, 49 minutes and 57 seconds.