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Argo smashes Newport Bermuda Race record

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The MOD70 Argo rode starboard tack all the way to Bermuda. Note the mast's angle of attack to the wind (Photograph by Daniel Forster/PPL)
Jason Carroll's MOD70 Argo takes the start of the Newport Bermuda Race (Photograph by Daniel Forster/PPL)

Jason Carroll and the crew of Argo outran every elapsed-time record associated with the Newport Bermuda Race when they completed the 52nd edition last night just after 11.20pm.

Crew members grind and tail on board the MOD70 Argo (Photograph by Daniel Forster/PPL)

Argo’s elapsed time of 33hr 0min 9sec is more than 30 hours faster than Carroll’s Gunboat 62 Elvis set in the first multihull division in 2018. It is also 1:42:42 faster than the 100ft monohull Comanche’s Open Division mark of 34:42:53 set in 2016. And it is more than 6½ hours faster than Rambler 90’s mark of 39hr 39min, which earned owner George David the Schooner Mistress Trophy in 2012 for fastest elapsed time by a monohull in the race’s four major divisions.

Argo is the first Saturday night finisher in the history of the storied race, which is co-organised by the Cruising Club of America and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.

Carroll’s international crew on board Argo included Chad Corning (New Rochelle, New York), Pete Cumming (Warsash, England), Thierry Fouchier (Marseilles, France), boat captain Chris Maxted (Melbourne, Australia), Charlie Ogletree (Seabrook, Texas), Alister Richardson (Bournemouth, England), and navigator/sailing master Brian Thompson (Cowes, England).

“This crew has been on the boat a lot, we’ve all worked together for a lot of years,” said Corning, the 50-year-old crewman and programme manager, in a pre-race interview. “For the shorter 600-mile races, we like to sail with eight. It just makes sail-handling that much easier.”

Argo averaged 19.24 knots in setting the multihull course record, and sailed approximately 486 nautical miles in the 24 hours after the start. Argo sailed mainly to the west of rhumb line and took advantage of a meander in the Gulf Stream that gave it a favourable boost towards Bermuda.

The trimaran started the race on Friday at 2.20pm. Watching the boat do its pre-race preparation, one could see the mast canted heavily to starboard, indicating the crew knew it would be a starboard tack slog until they got within sight of Bermuda. The only two manoeuvres were a tack to port and one back to starboard to the finish line off St David’s Lighthouse in the final ten miles of the course.

In April, Argo set a record from Antigua to Newport of three days and 15 minutes, shaving 5½ hours off the previous mark set by sistership Phaedo. The Newport Bermuda Race record is the sixth course record to go with two world records that Argo has set since Carroll purchased the foil-assisted trimaran in 2018.

Argo’s preparations for the Bermuda race included fitting a new rudder to replace one that was broken in April during training in Antigua before the record run to Newport.

“We toasted the V2 rudder and replaced it with one of our first-version rudders for the record run,” Corning said. “We’ve got two generations of foils and rudders, and the new rudder is a direct replacement of the first V2 rudder.

Argo is as good as a MOD70 can be. The only development we’re considering is a switch to flip-up rudders instead of being destroyed. Things break when we hit things, and that’s a problem. In terms of how the foils and rudders work together, it’s as good as can get across the range. The underpinnings of the V2 foils and rudders are from our capsize in 2019. We wanted a safer boat. The boat’s a bit faster in some conditions, but better overall because it’s safer and more under control.”

More under control likely means many more records for Carroll and the Argo crew in the future.

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Published June 21, 2022 at 7:59 am (Updated June 21, 2022 at 8:05 am)

Argo smashes Newport Bermuda Race record

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