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North Sails NEWS
STRATEGIST TOM WHIDDEN TALKS ABOUT WINNING THE 2018 WALLY CLASS TROPHY
Wally Cento Magic Carpet 3 Sweeps The Series
Since 1994, the Wally Class has grown into one of the most elegant and aesthetically pleasing yacht racing fleets. The Wally Class Trophy, equally elegant and donated by North Sails, is awarded to the boat with the most points after four events: Palma Vela, Rolex Giraglia, Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup & Maxi Worlds, and Les Voiles de St. Tropez. This year Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones’ Magic Carpet 3, a Wally Cento 100’, stole the show. We caught up with team strategist (and the CEO of North Technology Group) Tom Whidden to learn more about the program, the fleet, and the boat.
Tom has been racing with the Magic Carpet team on and off for twelve years, and this year he focused on strategy.
“It’s a versatile job that I like doing a lot. I could help with boat speed and with communication. I worked with the owner on crew performance, and I gave him feedback on how he’s going against the other boats and how to get around the marks. I also gave the tactician suggestions.”
The majority of the fleet is fully equipped with North Sails, and Tom says all the boats are extremely well matched. In the middle of the 2018 season Magic Carpet 3 upgraded to a Southern Spars mast and Future Fibers’ EC Aero rigging. Tom believes that these mid-season updates—along with a new set of sails—set them apart from their two toughest competitors, Tango and Galateia.
“It really made a big improvement in our boat speed going into the end of the series, and our performance in the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and St. Tropez won us the overall trophy.”
This year’s fleet was smaller than previous seasons, and not all the boats are 100 footers. But Tom said any one of the teams could’ve won any race.
“Each boat is run very well, which makes each event tough regardless of yacht size.”
What does Tom like about the Wally Class? He first mentions the high level of talent and beautiful locations, and then adds, “I like the fact that it’s a five-race series, because you can improve over the course of the year. You don’t have to win the regattas to win overall. You just need to stay consistent.”
The four regattas in the Wally Trophy season include both course and coastal racing, and Tom says it’s hard to pick a favorite because he likes both. “It just depends a little bit on where we are. Porto Cervo has beautiful coastal racing. I would prefer windward-leeward courses in St. Tropez.”
Racing Magic Carpet 3 requires both teamwork and camaraderie in the crew of 25. “They are all highly qualified sailors, and for the most part, the nucleus of the team stays the same.” Tom says. And the ride?
“It’s big, powerful, and fast. We can easily hit 25 knots downwind and typically go upwind at about 12 knots. We push these boats to a very high level, and there is so much value in being a part of something as sophisticated as a boat like this. Anybody who wants to make the best sails in the world has to be involved, because you learn the most about the extreme loads and the power that comes from bigger boats.”
Tom has really appreciated working with Luca Bassani, the key driver behind Wally Yachts.
“Luca designed many of the details that make these boats very special-looking and quite easy to sail. They are not simple to sail at the top level, but nevertheless, easy to sail for a boat of this size. Wally Yachts have always lead the way in innovation and I have really enjoyed being a part of it.”
The Wally championship trophy is awarded by North Sails to the top scoring team at the end of the season. Each year, Tom has the pleasure of handing the trophy to the overall winner, and this year was special.
“ It was a real honor for me to award the Wally Trophy to my skipper, Lindsay Owen-Jones, in recognition for the entire team of Magic Carpet 3.”