Comanche crushes transatlantic speed record
The transatlantic monohull world record now belongs to the first yacht to finish this year's Newport Bermuda Race.
The 100-foot supermaxi Comanche, co-owned by American billionaire Jim Clark and Kristy Hinze-Clark, completed the 2,880 nautical mile journey from New York to Britain in 5 days 14 hrs 21 min 25 sec, travelling at an average speed of 21.44 knots.
Comanche's crew capitalised on a favourable weather window offering strong wind, great angles and flat seas all the way to Europe after setting sail from New York on July 22.
“The big thing for us was we were leading a small storm and the weather in front of us was quite calm so there were hardly any waves to slow us down,” said Richard Clarke, the watch captain and Bermuda Red Bull Youth America's Cup team head coach.
“We managed to sail almost minimum distance — only 60 miles more than shortest course — in the perfect weather with the perfect boat.”
The New York Yacht Club yacht sliced more than 24 hours off the previous record of 6:17:52:39, set by Robert Miller's 139-foot Mari-Cha IV in October 2003.
“We blasted the record because the boat is one of the first that is fast enough to sail across the Atlantic in the same weather system and we waited for the perfect weather for the boat,” Clarke, the multiple Olympian, said.
A collision with a whale off Newfoundland nearly scuttled the yacht's record attempt.
“There was no damage to the boat or whale but it was a great surprise and caused a few anxious moments,” Clarke said.
Comanche's world-class crew was without several regulars, including Ken Read, the skipper, and Jimmy Spithill, who were both involved with last month's Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series in Portsmouth. Read was commentating while Spithill competed as skipper of Oracle Team USA.
Comanche set a new Newport Bermuda Race elapsed time record in June after completing the 635 nautical mile course in 34:42:53, slashing nearly five hours off the previous record of 39:39:18 set by George David's Rambler in 2012.
The supermaxi won the iconic Sydney Hobart Race in January and presently holds multiple speed records.