Cook­son 50 dom­i­nates RORC Transat­lantic

Yachting World - - On The Wind -

Noth­ing was go­ing to stop them. When Swiss sailor Franco Niggeler’s crew won the 2018 RORC Transat­lantic Race in De­cem­ber, they did so de­spite call­ing into Cape Verde to deal with an elec­tri­cal prob­lem, and later hav­ing to put out a fire on board.

Their win in the Cook­son 50 also ce­mented this de­sign’s in­cred­i­ble rep­u­ta­tion off­shore. The Farr de­sign may be over 12 years old, but the Cook­son 50 con­tin­ues to win in blue riband events such as the Rolex Syd­ney Ho­bart and Rolex Fast­net Race. Kuka3 dom­i­nated this edi­tion of the RORC Transat­lantic on hand­i­cap.

The Swiss team did have one not-so-se­cret weapon: for this race Kuka3 was skip­pered by Roberto ‘Chuny’ Ber­múdez de Cas­tro. Chuny Ber­múdez is one of the best ocean rac­ers in the world. He has com­peted in seven Whit­bread/ Volvo races and is held in par­tic­u­lar es­teem for his abil­ity to make Volvo 65s go fast.

Ber­múdez en­joys sail­ing the cant­ing keeled Cook­son 50; he told us in Lan­zarote be­fore the start that it’s be­cause you can sail them very sim­i­larly to the VO65.

“To me, it’s re­ally sim­i­lar to sail­ing a Volvo boat, it has a lot of the same sys­tems.”

For this race Kuka3 has had two years of fur­ther op­ti­mi­sa­tion with a re­duced sail wardrobe, de­signed to be sim­ple to han­dle with a small crew. And there were a few more Volvo style ad­di­tions which in­cluded ro­bust cus­tom built frames around the twin wheels, each with a ded­i­cated MOB alert mounted to it.

Owner Franco Niggeler says: “An­other big im­prove­ment against stan­dard Cook­son 50s is that our cant­ing keel is elec­tri­cal driven and not di­rectly by the mo­tor.”

Niggeler pre­vi­ously owned the cus­tom de­sign Kuka Light, which mainly raced in the Mediter­ranean. Ber­múdez said he had em­pha­sised safety above all, be­cause few of the crew had transat­lantic ex­pe­ri­ence be­fore the race. “For me safety is about per­for­mance, be­cause if ev­ery­body feels more safe then

First home

you can re­ally push to the lim­its.

“I was re­ally im­pressed with the guys, es­pe­cially as some of them are a bit new to off­shore rac­ing,” he re­ported af­ter the fin­ish.

“Five days be­fore the fin­ish we also had a fire on board which we dealt with very well. Ev­ery­body went straight up on deck and we used the ex­tin­guisher. How­ever, we were with­out com­mu­ni­ca­tion for days and it was a re­ally big test for us.” First home of the mono­hulls was Pier Luigi Loro Piana’s su­per­maxi My Song, which set a new mono­hull race record of 10d 5h. The big­gest yacht in the race by some 60ft, the Baltic 130

My Song did not set out to chal­lenge the record, pre­vi­ously set by Finot-conq 100 No­mad IV – in­stead the owner wanted to de­liver his yacht to the Caribbean for a sea­son of cruis­ing. Nav­i­ga­tor Na­cho Postigo’s orig­i­nal brief was to pick a route that wouldn’t re­sult in any break­ages. But per­fect con­di­tions put My Song on track for the record, and the 22-strong crew pushed hard enough to shave just over an hour off the course time.

“The con­di­tions were the best I’ve ever had across the At­lantic,” com­mented Postigo, “Ev­ery night was just bril­liant, with plenty of stars, the wind al­ways be­tween 16-22 knots – per­fect.”

The clos­est con­test was be­tween the two

70ft tri­marans, Pow­er­play (for­merly Con­cise, now owned by Peter Cun­ning­ham) and Maserati. The lat­ter’s skip­per, Gio­vanni Sol­dini, has been work­ing on con­vert­ing his Multi 70 to foil­ing mode for over a year now, but on the de­liv­ery to Lan­zarote the tri­maran hit de­bris in the wa­ter which broke away one foil­ing rud­der, leav­ing Maserati with an asym­met­ric foil set-up.

De­spite the set­back, Maserati was the first to fin­ish, cross­ing the line af­ter just six days and 18 hours of rac­ing. Con­cise, with skip­per Ned Col­lier Wake­field and crew in­clud­ing Paul Larsen and Jonny Mal­bon, fin­ished some 50 min­utes later.

With just 11 en­tries this year (down from 25 last year) in the Transat­lantic Race, this was a small event, but RORC CEO Ed­die War­den Owen said he was not par­tic­u­larly con­cerned about the lower en­try num­bers, point­ing out that it clashed this year with the solo Route du Rhum Race, which at­tracted a large num­ber of mul­tis and Class 40s. He added that, by con­trast, the club’s Caribbean 600 in Fe­bru­ary al­ready boasts a healthy en­try of nearly 40 boats.

Race win­ning yacht Kuka3 and owner Franco Niggeler

The largest yacht in the 2018 RORC Transat­lantic, the Baltic 130 My Song, set a new course record

Off to a fly­ing start: the Multi 70 Maserati

Ap­proach to the fin­ish in Gre­nada by Trevor Mid­dle­ton’s Sun Fast 3600 Black Sheep

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.