Video: Comanche and Rambler 88 face off at Les Voiles St Barth regatta
by Risa Merl
Les Voiles de St Barth regatta, running 13 to 18 April, has set the stage for the showdown between high-performance Maxi sailing yachts Comanche and Rambler 88. Racing in the Maxi 1 class, each has something to prove and is vying for top spot. The duel has made for exciting competition as both new launches are eager to win first place as both have taken second in recent races.
The 31.5 metre sailing superyacht Comanche was built to win by US yard Hodgdon yachts for her owner Jim Clark and sports a high-tech sail plan from North Sails. Rambler 88 was launched by New England Boatworks for owner George David, who has done well with his previous larger Rambler yachts, including Rambler 90, which is currently for sale.
After two days of racing, the prowess of both racing machines has been proven, as can be seen in the video above. Comanche has bested the competition in the Maxi 1 class on actual time, but on corrected time Rambler 88 has come out on top in both of the first two races, followed by Lucky in second place so far on corrected time.
“Comanche is built to be fast, and it’s built to win elapsed time. I don’t even know what our handicap rating is,” Comanche’s Skipper and North Sails’ President Ken Read says. “It’s been a two year design and build process and Rambler 88 is in the same boat – it just so happens these two boats came out at the same time. It’s the first time these new super maxis got to line up.
“Today we got the better of them,” Ken Read says in regards to having the fastest time on the first day of racing. “We like what we saw today. Any time you beat your arch rival, it’s a good day. We also know there’s a long way to go. Plenty more to happen.”
Once the new kid on the Caribbean regatta circuit, Les Voiles de St Barth has been gaining steam and in its sixth year celebrates a record number of entries. Nearly 80 boats are competing – a dozen more boats than last year’s event.
Race organisers opted to throw down the gauntlet to the largest and fastest yachts competing, putting them through the paces on a new course designed for speed. On the second day of racing, the Maxi 1, Maxi 2 and Multihull classes set out from Gustavia on a 42 nautical mile course St Barth, across to the Canal de Saint Barthelemy and around Tintamarre, a small island east of St Martin. Comanche set the record time on the new course in the Maxi 1 class, finishing in 3 hours, 38 minutes and 7 seconds.
“It was a little bit like NASCAR racing out there: drive fast and keep turning left,” says Phaedo 3‘s skipper Lloyd Thornberg about the course. The electric-green Phaedo 3 made news only days before the regatta, breaking the record set by Steve Fossett’s Playstation for fastest time sailing around the island of St Martin.
Les Voiles de St Barth racing will run over four days, from 14 to 15 April and 17 to 18 April with a lay day today on 16 April.