Thursday 23 November 2017

Sea Monster devours Transatlantic opposition


WM Nixon

The Sea Monster has zoomed into European waters -- and is looking fierce and fast.

Kenny Read's new Volvo 70 Puma -- dubbed 'Mar Mostro' in some jurisdictions, just as his previous Puma was simply 'The Monster' -- has made an impressive debut in the Transatlantic Race from Newport Rhode Island to the Lizard Point in southwest England.

Though competing boats are still at sea, none of them can now beat the Read machine's corrected time. Only the mighty 100-footer Rambler challenged the new Monster.

George David's majestic ship -- which Read had recently commanded -- clocked a sensational crossing of six days and 22 hours, but Puma was only 13 hours behind and corrected into a four-hour win.

It almost wasn't like that. After tearing across the Atlantic at speeds sometimes above 30 knots, the wind was dying as Puma approached the finish. With the tide turning against them, Read and his crew were preparing to anchor in order to ride out an adverse current, when the race organisers told them they had just crossed the finish line, albeit at a speed of less than one knot over the ground. Absurdly slow for a Volvo 70, but that's boat racing.

Thus the markers are being put in place in advance of the Volvo World Race start with six new boats in October at Alicante. However, for Irish sailors, it's a time when we must make the best of what we've got, and this was stylishly demonstrated at the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta when the overall trophy in a fleet of 420 boats was taken by an immaculately maintained 1978 design.

Ken Lawless and his partners, who pipped Flor O'Driscoll's J/24 in their Starflash class Quarter Tonner Supernova, had upgraded their veteran boat through the off season, and had been overall winners in the Lambay Race in June. The win in Dublin Bay was eloquent testimony to dedication, enthusiasm and skill.

By staying in contention on the Irish Sea, Supernova has not challenged the strong group of Quarter Tonners in Cork. They are now in the Solent where the revived Quarter Ton Cup is in action, with George Kenefick's Tiger and Eamon Rohan's Anchor Challenge getting into the frame.

It's Classics racing of a sort, and alongside them the week-long annual British Classics Regatta is getting under way this weekend, with Ireland represented by Hal Sisk's 1894-vintage Peggy Bawn and Stephen O'Flaherty's Spirit 54 Soufriere. A modern classic perhaps, but Soufriere won her class in this regatta last year, and sails the sea with the style of a star in a James Bond movie, which she, indeed, was, once upon a time.

Meanwhile, in West Cork the Glandore Classic Regatta concludes with its traditional sail past tomorrow, and in Abersoch in Wales a record turnout of the International Dragon Class has seen Martin Byrne of Dun Laoghaire well in the running for the historic Edinburgh Cup, which concludes today.

Irish Independent

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