Infiniti 52 lost in the North Atlantic
Published on May 1st, 2022
Built in the USA, the first Infiniti 52 to be delivered has been lost in the North Atlantic after colliding with an unidentified floating object (UFO). Designed by Hugh Welbourn, the monoull is the first foil assisted high performance racing yacht developed for semi-custom production.
Along with a keel, the boat is fitted with a Dynamic Stability Systems (DSS) retracting lateral foil which protrudes out the sides of the hull, just beneath the water to leeward. The DSS provides ‘righting moment on demand’ and provides more lift the faster boat (and foil) pass through the water, just like adding crew weight to the rail or ballast to the keel.
The net result is a significant speed boost, but high speed leads to high damage in a collision. The Tulikettu Racing Team, which christened this first boat in October 2021, share what happened:
It is with great sadness, that we must report an incident that occurred in the North Atlantic while Tulikettu was sailing from Cascais, Portugal back to the Team Base in Gosport, United Kingdom. All four delivery crew members survived the situation unharmed, and have returned to the United Kingdom with their loved ones.
The yacht collided with an UFO on April 18. The EPIRB was launched on April 20 at 00:54 am UTC. Will Jackson, Tulikettu shore team manager, supported the Person-In-Charge via a continuous satellite connection. On April 20 at 10:45 am UTC, the entire crew was evacuated to an oil tanker that had been diverted to assist, and Tulikettu had to be abandoned at sea.
A salvage operation commenced on April 21 with a high-powered tug sent to search the area with direct assistance from a spotter plane. The search efforts continued 24/7 with support from MRCC Turku and MRCC Delgado. The multinational team worked together producing daily drift calculations to assist the sea and air recovery specialists. However, hope of recovery has faded after intensive searching, and the Tulikettu Team stopped the search late on April 29.
“We managed to sail almost 5000 nautical miles aboard our magnificent yacht, which was long enough time to conclude that the new Infiniti 52 exceeded all our expectations for the performance of the boat,” noted Arto Linnervuo, Tulikettu Racing Team owner.
“I will never forget the feeling when Tulikettu leaned on its foil and lifted herself above the waves for the first time reaching effortlessly boat speeds of 28 knots without help from surf waves, and the wind speed didn’t come even close to our boat speed back then.
“I have been through many sleepless nights as I have wondered what else we could have done to find our beautiful new beast. Very slowly my thoughts are beginning to look at the future, which gives me strength in this devastating situation.
“Losing such a revolutionary vessel that had attracted so much attention and interest across the global sailing community is, after many years’ work, one of the most difficult moments in my life, but giving up on our goals and my dream to win something big together with my all-Finnish offshore racing team on the international grand prix offshore racing scene would be much worse. The more wet rags on the face, the harder I want to achieve our goals.
“A Formula One team would not stop racing after crashing its new car in the winter tests. Therefore, I have made the decision to continue our Team efforts as soon as possible in collaboration with Infiniti Yachts.
“In the meantime, the Team will continue to train and compete together with the other offshore racing yachts of our sailing club, Xtra Stærk Ocean Racing Society, including our Xp44 and JPK 10.30 yachts proven to be successful. We will explore the possibility of chartering other competitive boats. God damn it, we will be back!”
Gordon Kay, founder of Infiniti Yachts:
“The Infiniti 52 showed every sign of being the best yacht to have been fitted with DSS ever. Her behavior and balance were impeccable and speed easy to find. Having spent so long developing and building the Tulikettu her loss is a significant disappointment, notwithstanding hull 2 is well underway and hull 3 is expected to start in a few weeks.”
Brian McInnes, boat builder Composite Builders:
“I speak for the whole team at Composite Builders and all of the people involved in getting Tulikettu on the water, how heartbroken we are to hear of the unfortunate accident with this beautiful yacht. In its short life the boat’s performance had exceeded expectations!
Unfortunately, we are seeing more instances of collisions with foreign objects at sea, and the effects this is having on the health of our oceans and the sailing community. We are happy that the crew are safe and hope to see Arto and his team back on the water very soon.”
Stu Bannatyne, Tulikettu Racing team’s coach and Doyle Sails representative:
“I was in total shock and saddened to hear about the loss of Tulikettu. The few times I sailed on the boat during early sea trials were truly exciting and she gave more than a few glimpses of her very impressive performance through a range of conditions.
“An absolute pleasure to drive and trim, Tulikettu was I think a genuine step forward in technology and performance for an offshore 52 foot race boat. I understand that Arto is very keen to be able to get back into a new Infiniti 52 as soon as possible. This is great news and completely understandable! I look forward to the opportunity to join him once again.”