North Sails NEWS

July 11, 2019


Ken Read Shares His Perspective on Sailing Across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans

There are currently two big ocean races on the radar this week; finishers are trickling in from a very light air Transatlantic Race, while the Transpacific Race fleet sets off for the 50th edition of this West Coast Classic. North Sails President Ken Read has done his fair share of ocean sailing—eight Transatlantics alone, plus plenty of other crossings.

We asked Ken for his perspective on these two races, and to share a bit of insight into his experience in crossing both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. He says these two sailing events could not be any more different.

Transatlantic Race

Typically cold and windy and rough, this year’s race was often painfully light with high pressure and rain and upwind sailing dominating the race track. Crossing the Atlantic is predictable in its unpredictability. 

I have had the distinct pleasure of crossing the Atlantic eight times, and each time brought its own craziness.  My first time was with Ericsson for a leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-06, when a life was lost and a boat sank. Talk about unpredictable.

On another Atlantic crossing aboard the 90’ Rambler, we sailed through a low pressure so large that one edge of it hit America and the other edge bumped up against Ireland. On Comanche, we set a new 24-hour speed record during the 2015 Transatlantic Race. And although it was not a Transat race year, in 2016 Comanche set a new monohull Transatlantic record of 5 days, 14 hours, 21 minutes and 25 seconds. 


And then there’s the Transpac, about as predictable as it gets. This race is a downwind sleigh ride mostly in T-shirts and shorts. Too much sun is about the biggest issue. Breaking the elapsed time record (5 days, 1 hour, 55 minutes and 26 seconds) with Comanche was about the most pleasurable multi-day sail I’ve ever done—by far! (For more memories from other North Sails veterans, read 50th Transpac.)  

Quite different, but…

All of these crazy adventures had one thing in common for me, and that was North Sails. We are proud to help people prepare for whatever conditions these famous distance adventures can throw at a yacht and crew. Whether you are crossing large bodies of water in days or weeks, racing or cruising, you need a safe working sail package that covers the entire gamut. Our company’s team of experts thrives on helping people reach their dreams, and seeing the smiles and hearing your stories at the end of each adventure—predictable, or completely unpredictable—makes it all worthwhile. 

Congratulations to the Transatlantic fleet, and good luck to the Transpac sailors!

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