Well here we go. As many of you know, since we last posted from the Rolex Middle Sea Race in October 2015, we continued to have a great run with our Farr 60 Prospector. After a well-earned third place in that race, we shipped her from Italy to the Caribbean where she raced the 2016 Caribbean season both on charter and with our partners. We closed the season with a solid win in the Maxi II class at the Les Voiles de Saint Barth regatta beating both Ian Walker and Bouwe Bekking who finished first and second in last year’s Volvo Ocean Race. Not bad. To say we had a good time in St. Barths is an understatement of epic proportions. And it made us hungry for more.
Alas, while we loved Prospector, she was showing her age and we decided that it was time to send her on to the next owner who could find out like we did what a great boat she is. While we definitely had the fever to keep going with another boat, we decided we would take some time to maybe let the fever break. That idea lasted all of five seconds.
Even before Prospector was hauled out of the water in June, we had already looked at more than a dozen boats both on the internet and in person. After a bit of flirtation with a smaller boat, a TP52 or maybe even a multihull, the continuing partners Dave Lawn Dart Siwicki (or as I call him, Too Deep Dave), Larry Pol Pot Landry and your humble correspondent decided on our “design brief”. Design brief is fancy yacht talk for what we wanted the boat to be able to do. It’s pretty simple really: we wanted a more modern boat that can plane downwind, is safe and comfortable for long ocean races (comfortable being a relative term), can compete well day racing, has a decent head and navigation station for said ocean racing and can be sailed competitively by our mixed team of Corinthians and pro sailors. It’s so simple that it fits in a sentence but very hard to find in the real world with our budget.
In looking around, we kept coming back to a single boat, a Mills 68 built by New England Boatworks in 2008 originally named Alegre and now named Caol Ila R. The boat had been impeccably maintained by both owners and was constantly upgraded. She has an unbelievable race record. The designer Mark Mills designed White Witch as well so we liked that. The more people we talked to, the more we kept hearing that this would be a terrific boat for us. Oh…and she is conveniently located in Sardinia.
As is typical of Larry, once we figured out this boat could work for us, he set about making it happen. If it wasn’t complicated enough buying a boat in Europe from a European owner with virtually everyone on vacation for the month of August over there, Larry decided we could not only buy the boat but be ready to race our first event at the Maxi Yacht Cup hosted by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in Porto Cervo, Italy. After all, the boat was already in Sardinia! We made a After a quick trip to Sardinia in mid August to test sail the boat – let’s just say we were pretty impressed – followed by our team taking the boat for a little shakedown cruise to Albania, for tax reasons, here we are, ready to go with a new Prospector on a new adventure.
Our crack team of Tery Glackin, Quinn Tobin and Lucien Moore have been in Europe for a month working tirelessly getting all this done. Our heartfelt thanks to them. They were recently joined by the inimitable Scotty Tompkins and the rest of us will fly over later this week for a few days of practice followed by the regatta start next Sunday. While it has all happened super quickly, we have gathered a top notch crew to sail with us including sailing legend Peter Isler and the designer of the boat Mark Mills. We have some new pro sailors with terrific pedigrees including Volvo experience also sailing with us to help us learn to sail what is definitely a big step up from the old Prospector. Veterans from the Transat that are back for another round include: Matt Landry, Henry Little, Tim Keyworth and Andrew Wolf joined by newer crew members that have sailed more recently on the old Prospector, Stuart McNeil and Dennis Willette. All in all, it will take 20 of us to get this boat around the course.
While we know we have a very fast boat and some outstanding sailors on our team, this will be our first event and so we are tempering our expectations but not our competitive spirit. No matter what, the setting will certainly be photogenic and we will post pictures and updates as the week progresses. We are proud to represent the Shelter Island Yacht Club and the New York Yacht Club sailing what it is one of the marquee events in the world of yacht racing. While it is impossible to predict the result, it is possible to know already from a deep reservoir of recent experience that we will have fun. More later.
Click on the link below to see a Flickr collection of pictures of the yacht in her previous incarnations as Allegre and Caol Ila R prepared for us by our yacht broker and good friend Bill Titus.