Tough Break

Friends of Prospector

 As many of you know Prospector dismasted at 3am on Sunday June 9th while participating in the 2019 Annapolis to Newport Race.  At the time of the incident we were in the Atlantic approximately 50 miles offshore and 80 miles northeast of Norfolk.

 A hanger pin, a one-inch stainless steel piece of rod that holds the head stay to the mast, failed.  We were sailing upwind on starboard tack in 22 knots of wind and 8-foot seas.  The rig came down to port.  The crew was all hiking to starboard which kept them out of harm’s way.  

 The rig broke about 20 feet above the deck.  The next 40' collapsed down the port side.  The final 45 feet was trailing in the water astern of Prospector and in minutes broke away due to wave action.  When we cut it away, it sank taking the mainsail with it.

The Prospector crew was amazingly calm.  We had trained for how to handle a mast failure and everyone knew what to do, quickly and quietly got about their jobs and executed according to plan.  The boat was sorted out and under way in less than 45 minutes.  We motored back to Norfolk under our own power.

 We were sailing a perfect race up until the mast came down.  We made it down the Chesapeake, 120 nautical miles, in 8 hours, exiting the bay at 7pm on Saturday night, we were tight and broad reaching, not our fastest point of sale at 15 knots.  It was epic fun. By 8:30pm we had passed the Chesapeake Bay light, the last mark before the finish.  At 11pm the wind shifted and we tacked and headed for Newport.  

 When the mast collapsed Prospector was leading for line honors, ORC overall and ORC 1A.  Most significantly, we were poised to challenge the existing race record.  Our routing and models had us finishing the race in 35-36 hours, well inside the existing 40-hour record.  We are more disappointed about losing the chance to break the record than losing the rig. Had we done so Prospector would have held course records for Marblehead to Halifax and A2N, two of the three major east coast ocean races.  Oh well!

 Thanks to all of you for your messages of concern and encouragement.  We are hard at work assessing options for getting our beloved and amazing boat back together and back out on the race course again soon.  We will keep you posted on our progress.

 In the immortal words of Robert Earl Keen "the road goes on forever and the party never ends"

 Team Prospector

Annapolis to Newport: 2019 Kickoff!

Team Prospector kicks off its 2019 campaign this Saturday June 8th in the 2019 Annapolis Newport Race.

Prospector is all buffed up after her long sojourn in Australia and our successful Sydney to Hobart race.  Tery, Quinn, Lu and Jules have worked hard on all components and systems and she has never looked better.

The team has been gathering in Annapolis and practicing for the last couple of days.  It has been almost six months since we last sailed Prospector and we are shaking off the rust, making sure everything works and testing our improvements to the boat.

The Annapolis to Newport race is one of the oldest US East Coast blue water races.  It links two historic seaports that have roots back to the colonial era, and offers the challenge of racing in both the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

The 475 mile course heads south for 120 miles from Annapolis to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, then east to the Chesapeake Light and then north east to the finish off Castle Hill in Newport.  Navigationally we break the race down in to 3 segments, the first leg down the Chesapeake to Chesapeake Light, the second from there to Block Island and the third from Block Island to the finish.  We effectively treat them as 3 different races.

The first leg can be very tricky with the wind impacted by geographic features and the potential for strong adverse current. Our 15.5 foot draft will pose particular challenges in the very shallow Chesapeake and limit some of our options on this leg. Our start is 11 am on Saturday June 8.  The current forecast is for a 10-15 knot easterly wind at the start.  That means we can sail straight down the bay in deep water which will eliminate the tactical disadvantage of our deep draft in the shallow Bay.  The trip down the Bay should be quick with routing showing us exiting the bay early Saturday night.

The leg from Chesapeake Bay to the Block Island will is highly dependent on how long it takes us to get out of the Bay and the wind conditions and sea state we have when we get there. But, once into the deep water, our options free up and we can focus on going fast, hopefully straight down the rhumb line. Our exit from the bay could be a bit more challenging with the wind shifting to the north east and strengthening to 25-30 knots.  This means we will be sailing upwind in a strong breeze with 2 meter waves. Not a pleasant prospect but excellent training for the Transatlantic race coming up later this month.

Eventually, as we tack up the course to Newport the wind will shift right to the east and we will free up to a reach, though the seas will remain rough.  These conditions will last till we approach the south shore of Long Island, when, surprise, surprise the winds will lighten and veer to the south.

The final leg, Block to Newport, is dominated by the time of day we arrive, given the potential for the wind to shut off at night and in the early morning, as well as land effects and strong current.  These challenges are very familiar to us as we near our home waters.

Interestingly, the course record was held by the Prospector Mark 1 until Warrior, a Volvo 70 skippered by Stephen Murray Jr. set the bar at 40 hours, 14 minutes and 36 seconds.

There are 52 boats entered in the race in 10 classes under 3 rating rules, ORC, PHRF and ORR.  We are in class ORC 1A with 7 competitors. Prospector is the biggest boat in a class comprised of principally 40 footers.  Assuming we can avoid breaking down we should be first to finish. Tactically, we will be focusing more on the clock than on boat on boat tactics.  

Come join us on our voyage.  You can track us live on YB Tracking at the following link:

Sydney to Hobart: 2 Days Out

It’s Christmas eve here in Australia and Santa’s Silver Sleigh, the mighty Prospector, is ready to go. We have had three good days of practice and now are enjoying a little holiday time with our families. Matt Baldwin is working his usual magic in the kitchen and the facilities at the Balmain Rowing Club, which is serving as our private dining club, have been terrific.

The start will be an epic spectacle. The Great Race is a big deal in Australia. We will be on the northern start line with all of the glamour boats, a fleet of 14 that include five 100 footers, eight 60-70 footers and one 50 footer. The coast will be lined with tens of thousands of spectators. On the water a thousand spectator boats will be vying to get as close as possible to the start and then escort the first boats, which we should be among, out of the harbor.

The start of the race will be broadcast live on national TV in Australia and can be seen via a live webcast internationally. The link for the webcast will be available on the race website at the start time ( As we are in the most competitive class, the broadcast will focus on our start, and hopefully we get a shoutout or two from the commentators! We hope you tune in to watch.

The race starts at 1:00pm in Australia on December 26th. That translates to:

Tel Aviv: 4am December 26
London: 2am December 26
US Eastern Time: 9pm December 25
US Western Time: 8pm December 25
US Mountain Time: 7pm December 25
US Pacific Time: 6pm December 25

We seem to have attracted a fair bit of betting attention. Our betting line has tightened from 41:1 at the start, to 26:1 and now we are at 8:1. The oddsmakers now have us as the fourth favorite in the race. We will do our best to hit the line as the gun goes off at full throttle and lead the fleet out through Sydney Heads.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas to all!

Sydney to Hobart

December 26, 2018 brings the next chapter in Prospector adventures when the silver canoe crosses the start for the Sydney to Hobart race.  

Australia’s Great Race is 628NM long down the southeastern coast of New South Wales, across the Bass Straight and ultimately up the Derwent River to the finish at Constitution Dock in Hobart.  The race renowned for challenging, changeable conditions across a tough patch of water.  It can be either a downwind or an upwind race, though typically it is downwind with a shift to upwind as the fleet crosses the Bass Strait and approaches Tasmania.  To cap it off, the race is often won and lost in the last 40 miles from Tasman Island up the Derwent River to the finish at Hobart as teams that had previously seen upwards of 30 knots content with light, localized breezes.

While the usual stars will all be in attendance - no doubt Australian TV’s will flicker images of Wild Oats XI, Black Jack, Scallywag and the current race record holder LDV Comanche (1 day 9 hours 15 minutes and 24 seconds), Prospector will line up against a strong fleet of 60 to 70 footers.  Whether Winning Appliances, Naval Group or the extremely skilled ladies on Wild Oats X, a strong challenge will arise somewhere, and it will take all of the Prospector crew’s talent and dedication to reach the podium.

As of writing, the weather models are still waffling through various states of disagreement, so our ETA is a bit up in the air.  Fans can follow our progress on the tracker

As usual, watch this space for updates and photos for life on board!

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