Emily Nagel has cited safety concerns as the primary reason for her team retiring from the ongoing Royal Ocean Racing Club Caribbean 600 offshore race.
The Bermudian sailor and her team-mates, that included America’s Cup winner Shannon Falcone, were forced to drop out less than 24 hours into the 600-mile classic after the DNA F4 foiling catamaran they were competing on encountered electronic issues in challenging conditions that have taken a heavy toll on the racing fleet.
“It was in the early hours of Tuesday morning when our wind gear failed and we lost all our numbers,” Nagel told The Royal Gazette. “While normally in a monohull this wouldn’t be the end of the race, as the conditions were so bad it was decided it would be safer to head back to Antigua. Going downwind without instruments in these conditions could have had serious consequences.
“The Caribbean 600 was an awesome experience, with over 25 knots and a messy sea state it was a wet and wild ride.
“The first day went really well for us, we were able to get the F4 up and going quickly, keeping up with bigger boats. It was very squally and so had the full crew on deck for the duration of the day, making multiple sail changes and constantly being ready to ease the sails if needed.”
The DNA F4 is a new carbon 46-foot foiling One Design catamaran designed and built to push the boundaries of long-distance racing, with Nagel using her naval architect expertise to help improve its design platform.
“While it was disappointing not to finish the race, it was very reassuring for the team to see that the F4 can race in these conditions and do well offshore despite many people believing catamarans are too high risk offshore,” Nagel said.
“Having only minor setbacks when many of the fleet had much more serious breakages in the conditions showed us that the platform has a very promising future with a little more development.
“All the sailors on board including myself are using our experience to help improve the design of the platform, which is what makes it such an exciting project to be involved with.”
Strong winds has resulted in more than 30 yachts among the record fleet of 84 having to retire from this year’s Caribbean 600, including the 53-foot multihull Fujin that capsized.
The crew of Fujin, that included Olympic gold medal-winner Jonathan McKee, were all safely rescued.
“As far as offshore races go, this one had multiple nerve racking moments, particularly when passing the island of Saba where distress calls from other boats were being made with Proteus and Fujin both retiring, Fuijin having capsized only a couple of miles ahead of us,” Nagel said.
The 63-foot trimaran, Paradox, seized multihull line honours after crossing the finish early Wednesday morning in an elapsed time of 1day 13hr 5.16sec.
The Maxi, Rambler 88, crossed the finish line just under half an hour later to take monohull line honours and set a new monohull race record of 1day 13hr 41.45 sec.