Giants across the Atlantic

Two significant new entries for 2005's Rolex Transatlantic Challenge Race

Monday November 17th 2003, Author: Barby MacGowan, Location: Transoceanic
The New York Yacht Club (NYYC) announced today the first two entries in the Rolex Transatlantic Challenge 2005. The race, for the world’s largest monohull yachts, is to start off New York on 21 May, 2005. The entries are from very different ends of the spectrum: the brand-new but already record-breaking Mari Cha IV and the venerable but transatlantic-race-winning Sumurun.

Both yachts will be looking to break the 100-year-old transatlantic-race record of Atlantic, skippered by the legendary Charlie Barr. In 1905 the 185-foot (56.4m) Atlantic raced from New York to the Lizard in England in 12 days, four hours, one minute and 19 seconds. That is the oldest race record in sailing.

Last month, the 140ft (42.7m) Mari-Cha IV, skippered by Robert Miller set the west-to-east transatlantic passage record in six days, 17 hours, 52 minutes and 39 seconds. During this record-breaking crossing, Robert Miller and his crew also shattered the 24-hour distance record by sailing 525.7 nautical miles.

Bob Miller said about Mari-Cha IV’s entry in the Rolex Transatlantic Challenge, “I am delighted to be able to participate with Mari-Cha IV in this exciting and historic race.”

Sumurun is skippered by A. Robert Towbin, chair of the NYYC’s Rolex Transatlantic Challenge Committee. In 1997, his 94-foot (28.7m) Fife design, built in 1914, won the Classic Division in the Atlantic Challenge Cup, this race’s predecessor.

“We are delighted that Mari-Cha IV has decided to join the Rolex Transatlantic Challenge 2005," commened Towbin. "As she has just set the transatlantic passage record, it will be exciting to see Mari-Cha IV challenged in our race to compete against the newest and fastest super-sailing yachts. This is how it was for Atlantic in 1905.”

Also expected to compete are the 257-foot (78.3m) Stad Amsterdam, chartered by the Storm Trysail Club, and several of the new Volvo 70s.

The Rolex Transatlantic Challenge is for monohull yachts of 70ft (21.34m) length on deck or greater. There is no maximum size. The race is sponsored by Rolex and hosted by the New York Yacht Club with the cooperation of England’s Royal Yacht Squadron.

There will be at least three divisions: Classic, Performance Cruising and Grand Prix.

Yachts will race for elapsed time, as well as handicap prizes. The classics will race under the NYYC Cruising Rule; the Performance Cruising and Grand Prix yachts will race under Americap II or IRC. The race is registered with the World Sailing Speed Record Council, part of ISAF, in case the record of Atlantic is broken.

Prior to departure, owners and guests will be entertained at the New York Yacht Club in New York City and aboard the aircraft carrier and museum USS Intrepid in New York Harbour where the entrants will be berthed.

The 2005 race will have two finish lines: The first will be off Lizard light, to mark Atlantic’s existing race record. After passing through the Lizard finish gate, yachts will continue racing to the second finish line, located at the Needles Fairway buoy, off the Isle of Wight. This adds about 142 nautical miles to the distance to the Lizard, bringing the total race distance to about 3,142 nm. Atlantic’s race record for the latter course is 13 days, 10 hours and 15 minutes.

When the fleet arrives in England, it will be welcomed by the Royal Yacht Squadron (RYS). A highlight of the post-race festivities will be a race around the Isle of Wight, on the classic America's Cup course. The 2005 Round the Island Race, hosted by the RYS, will be reserved for yachts that participated in the Rolex Transatlantic Challenge. Visiting yachts will also take part in England’s celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.

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