North Powered Swan 115 Sets Unofficial Superyacht Race Record
North Sails and North Technology Group President Ken Read has logged thousands of ocean miles in three round-the-world race programs, over a dozen Transatlantic crossings, and countless high-profile distance races. For the 2023 RORC Transatlantic Race, Ken was a Watch Captain on board Swan 115, Jasi. A true performance cruiser, Jasi completed the 3,200-mile race in an elapsed time of 09 days, 14 hours, 43 mins, and 37 seconds. Notably, this is the fastest time for a superyacht in the nine-year history of the race, besting the previous “unofficial” superyacht record set by the 130ft Baltic My Song in 2018 by 15 hours.
“This was a completely different experience from any other offshore racing I have ever done. When you go down below on Jasi, you walk into a luxurious, quiet, air-conditioned condominium that just so happens to have some pace.” said Read. “On board, the crew takes showers, eats excellent food, and each has a bunk to sleep in. This race was a downwind dream ride, but on a boat of Jasi’s size, you have to manage safety and competitiveness in equal measure.
Up on deck, it was definitely a boat race. The primary mission for Jasi’s owner and his two friends, dubbed the ‘three amigos,’ was to experience a true offshore adventure. And the RORC Transatlantic Race delivered.” Trim, tactics, pace, crew work, sail changes, squalls, watch systems all on a 90-ton superyacht to drive down waves and push like a race boat.
“Jasi, as a sailing machine, was still new to racing. She had done a few inshore regattas but had yet to put on any real ocean miles. We had a bunch of first-time transatlantic sailors on board, and it was fun for me to pass on a bit of knowledge and share my experience, especially with the younger crew members. Hopefully, I helped them avoid some of the mistakes I have made (and learned from).”
Learning on the Fly
“Very quickly during this race, the three amigos settled into the watch rotation, and the crew opened up their personal playbooks to start sharing their knowledge of offshore sailing.” According to Ken, wWatching the amigos experience offshore sailing and learning was the trip’s highlight.
The owner made an incredibly quick study of apparent wind driving, and Jasi is a challenging boat to drive. He was fearless, never missing a beat driving through a 27-knot squall. He never thought about relinquishing the helm, nor did it cross our minds to ask him.
Jasi had a team of 21, living together in reasonably close quarters, so like all offshore adventures, everyone had to be on the team. For example, a few days into the race, one of the newbies came up on deck with ten sandwiches. He never would have done that at the start of the race; more likely simply making one sandwich for himself Making ten wouldn’t have occurred to him. “When offshore, it is not just the subtleties of learning how to use a boat; it’s also learning how to be a team player.”
Jasi’s program in the Caribbean will include the famous Supermaxi regatta, St. Barths Bucket. Read believes that the lessons learned in the RORC Transatlantic Race will be of great use at the regatta. “The skills and knowledge learned are 100% transferable to inshore racing.”
“In many ways, the Transatlantic was a ten-day practice session for the ‘Bucket. Changing spinnakers, for example, all of the systems and maneuvers will be the same, and during the Transatlantic, we got progressively better and compiled comprehensive speed, angle, and polar data. The big goal for the team and the owner is to finish each day satisfied that we sailed the boat well and let the chips fall on where we stand after time correction.”
Ken knows that there is no question that the transatlantic rookies all went home telling all their friends about their amazing experiences. “We need to bring new blood into our sport, and the RORC Transatlantic is a perfect way to do that. For many yachts who started the race, it was never about winning and losing, but it was about the experience; the stars at night, the marine life, and living offshore.”
Jasi’s Inventory: Her Engine Above Deck
Mark Sadler from North Sails Palma, was the project manager for Jasi’s sail inventory and also raced on board for the RORC Transatlantic Race. Mark is a fantastic sailor in his own right and was a watchmate of Ken’s for this trip. For over a decade, Sadler has competed in and supplied sails to many Superyacht, Offshore, and Grand Prix regattas for North Sails. Like all successful teams, its people like Mark and their experience that remain a significant strength for North Sails.
Jasi’s sail inventory is made up of: 3Di Raw 870 mainsail, 3Di Raw 870 Helix J2, 3Di Raw 760 Helix J4, J5 storm jib, 3Di Raw 760 Genoa staysail, Cuben fiber Spinnaker staysail, A1.5 Nylon spinnaker, A4 Polyester spinnaker, A6 Polyester spinnaker, Top Down Furling Helix Code 0, Storm Trysail
Ken recalls, “We may have done about 30-40 sail changes during this race. We used the J2 only at the start and the finish, but the Code Zero saw a ton of use. The J4 was used as a staysail and a Genoa Staysail as a triple-head sail. We had three kites that had plenty of use, and the loads kept working against us. We had to attend to some small nicks after the lazy sheet burned a few holes in the luff sections.“
One recommendation Read had for future racing with Jasi is to bring a sewing machine on board. Squalls are a huge part of sailing in the ocean, morning, evening, and nighttime, requiring multiple sail changes to ensure they didn’t have too light a sail flying in the more punchy squalls.
This race was a great reminder of the total team effort it takes to pull off any transatlantic race, not just out on the water but also in advance, getting the boat race-ready. Toby Clarke and all the permanent crew did a fantastic job. Read shares “A big thank you to the Royal Ocean Racing Club for providing a safe and well-organised race.”
North Sails powered all of the major winners in the 2023 RORC Transatlantic Race, including Multihull Line Honours winner Maserati, Monohull Line Honours winner I Love Poland, and the Overall Winner, NMD54 Teasing Machine.
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