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Comanche holds Transatlantic Race lead

Published on January 20th, 2022

(January 20, 2022; Day 13) – With threats to the 2022 RORC Transatlantic Race overall title, the 100-foot Comanche (CAY) retains the lead following the finish last night of David Collins’ Botin 52 Tala (GBR) and Max Klink’s Botin 52 Caro (CAY).

Billed as the closest battle within the record fleet, IRC Zero did not disappoint. The dismasting of Botin 56 Black Pearl (GER), which has safely made landfall in the Canaries, resulted in two hi-tech fifty-footers battling across the Atlantic Ocean.

Tala has won IRC Zero, completing the course in an elapsed time of 11 days 10 hrs 13 mins 9 secs. Tala is also ranked second overall, just over an hour behind Comanche after IRC time correction. Caro was just an hour behind Tala on the water – a virtual photo-finish after over 3,000nm of racing.

Caro is a new Botin design taking part in only its second race and the first transatlantic. Caro is second in IRC Zero and third overall. Caro and Tala are relishing the next battle, which will be in February at the RORC Caribbean 600.

Tala is the first modified TP52 to even attempt the RORC Transatlantic Race, let alone win class, and is believed to be the first of its kind to complete a west-to-east race Transatlantic race. Tala has been a familiar competitor for the RORC for several years. However, the boat was specifically modified for the race.

Tala’s skipper owner David Collins said it all started when Pete Redmond (Tala crew) jokingly suggested doing the RORC Transatlantic Race. “We have always dreamed of sending-it downwind for days, so I decided to do this race and then the RORC Caribbean 600,” said Collins.

Once the decision to race was made, Tala was modified in her home port of Hamble UK, specifically for additional waterproofing. Work included making a bespoke main hatch enclosure and additional bilge pumps below decks. Tala was then sailed over 1,500nm to Lanzarote for the start.

“We did get to send it for a few days at the start and we enjoyed it,” continued Collins. “A low-pressure system affected the race and our fleet had different views about what to do. Black Pearl went south and Caro to the north.

“Tala’s navigator Campbell Field didn’t like the extra distance around the top, but we wanted the slingshot from the system, so he took the decision to just skirt the low, punching through the pressure band on the way in.”

Tala’s course was the most direct, but it meant the team and the boat would experience big conditions with 35 knots and confused seas and an erratic wind direction.

“Tala is a good boat, but she suffered. We were very confident that she would be able to cope with the conditions, but unfortunately the electronics on board were taken out by the water ingress. We lost just about all the electrical systems, including the YB Tracker, our ability to download weather data and the position of other boats. We were becalmed for a while, but we then reached out on a good shift and came powering out of the low into the trade winds.”

With the electronics compromised, Tala was effectively racing by compass and the weather they could eye-ball. The team had no information on their big rival Caro.

“We were utterly unaware of the position of any other boat,” admitted Collins. “We were getting no weather reports either. We didn’t know` where Caro was until we got in cell phone range off Grenada.

“When we found out Caro was behind us, we were astonished. My bet was they were 20 miles ahead, especially as we had a shocking final 24hrs. We made two back downs and Robbie (Southwell) as a swimmer, trying to clear weed from our rudder. I was really down, but then elated to find out that we had got the win.

“It was really nip and tuck with Caro and I am very sentimental about this race. Sometimes you get a great boat like Tala and you just want to do it justice. Tala is a cracking boat, a joy to sail but now it’s time to go back to my wife and two kids!

“We have a lot of work to get ready for the RORC Caribbean 600, but I am sure the lads will do it. The RORC have done a brilliant job organizing this race, it has been a great experience. A massive think you to the Tala crew, they are a solid bunch of lads and we will enjoy a couple of days in Grenada.”

Another finisher was the Austrian Ocean Race Project’s VO65 Sisi (AUT), completing the course yesterday afternoon in an elapsed time of 11 days 04 hrs 43 mins 29 secs. The Austrian Ocean Race Project’s VO65 Sisi (AUT), like Volvo Open 70 I Love Poland (POL), is another young team with ambitions for The Ocean Race.

The OCR50 Club 5 Oceans (FRA) skippered by Quentin le Nabour finished the race in the early hours today.

From the start, six of 23 monohulls and five of seven multihulls have finished, with two of the monohulls having retired.

Race detailsEntry listTracker

The 2022 RORC Transatlantic Race started January 8 for 256 sailors from 27 different countries. The record fleet of 30 boats set off from Lanzarote for the 3000nm course to Grenada.

Multihull elapsed record is 5 days, 22 hrs, 46 mins, 03 secs set in 2015 by Lloyd Thornburg’s Phaedo 3, skippered by Brian Thompson.

Monohull elapsed record is 7 days, 22 hrs, 01 mins, 04 secs set in 2022 by the 100ft VPLP Design/Verdier Comanche, skippered by Mitch Booth.

Source: Louay Habib

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