North Sails NEWS

TWICE ON TOP

Argo Racing Breaks Two Records in a Doubleheader Week of Racing

­čôŞ: Rick Bannerot

First, it was the Around Jamestown record, then it was the Vineyard Race, a mix of excellent conditions and determined crew gave Jason Caroll’s MOD70 Argo the opportunity to break, not one, but two records this week on New England waters. Is the team excited? Yes. Are they satisfied? No. North Sails sat down with Project Manager Chad Corning to talk about their titles, and what they are aiming for next.

NS: What a week! Tell us about the sailing.

Chad Corning: The┬áfirst one was the around Jamestown record, which is a cool local record here in Newport. It’s about 19 miles around Conanicut Island in Narragansett Bay. We had been doing laps around Jamestown as a training exercise. In the MOD 70, it gives us a focused training session. It was probably been the fourth or fifth time that we had contemplating doing a lap of the island this summer.

We got out on Tuesday, the wind was easterly, southeasterly, it was an okay direction for going around because you want an easterly or westerly to reach the whole time. So we got out and we got the boat ready to go, the sails up, and by the time we opted to start, the wind had become even more easterly, which made it even better. We were able to fetch out to Beavertail, have a nice fast Gennaker run down the backside of Jamestown, and then just have to do one tack on the way back up to the bridge. As it goes with records, everything needs to be perfect and it was a perfect day on Tuesday.

The Vineyard Race was quite different, you look at the weather and you download it into the computer and it spits out a route and there’s a lot of modeling. Hypothetically, the record was possible, but the conditions in the forecast didn’t quite meet up. By the time we got back into the sound, it looked to be impossible because of light winds between the tower and Block Island and the entrance to the sound that was not really expected.

Then things looked up, there was much more wind than forecast for the next leg, from the entrance to the sound to the finish. So all of a sudden we started ripping and started doing the math and made the decision to keep pushing the team. From the navigator’s desk, I knew it would be kind of five minutes either way with a couple of hours to go. It was an exciting few hours, the boat was lit and everyone was just kind of pushing as hard as we could. Which makes it very satisfying after an intense effort like that to get it that was really cool. It was just by a few minutes and it was kind of breaking the record that we set in 2018, but a record of a record and it was cool.

With no other boats to race against, in a race like the Vineyard Race, it’s really the only way to kind of stay focused. So it was great to get it.

­čôŞ: Sharon Green / Ultimate Sailing

NS: How did the sails and equipment affect the decision to keep pushing for the record in changing and building conditions? How was the performance of the boat?

Corning: Our relationship with North Sails, starts with our sailmaker Fuzz Foster and Steve Calder our sail designer, it’s a great collaborative process with those guys and that sets us up to be very confident. We didn’t think twice about anything with the sails and we had a mixed sort of mixed inventory age-wise. We had our original 3Di main, we have a newer one, but didn’t use it. We had our original Gennaker which is two-plus years old. It’s been around the block, it’s been to Hawaii and we pushed that sail very hard and didn’t even think about it.

We know that even if it’s older stuff, we can be confident in pushing just as hard as we want. We’ve had zero trouble and the sails have been perfect. In terms of North, I can’t give enough credit to Fuzz and Steve, in terms of how they set us up on all this, that’s the secret sauce.

NS: Because of travel restrictions, your crew is mostly Americans, right?

Corning:┬áWe have a great team of sailors. Some guys from the UK and France that we would normally have weren’t here because of travel restrictions, but that’s okay. We’ve got good people here in Newport and here in the US that we tap into. Seven out of eight onboard were American, other than┬áBrian Thompson who came from the UK, who’s a multi-hull sort of God and he helps us sort of stay out of trouble.

Charlie Ogletree has the same sort of status in terms of experience as Brian, so those two guys gave us sort of the depth of experience on the boat and then the rest of the team, it was Jason Carroll [the owner], myself, some guys here from Newport, and US sailors, all who have a lot of experience on the boat. It’s kind of a low drama, good chemistry team and that just makes everything very easy. Everyone’s got each other’s back and everyone knows what to do instinctually without … there’s very little verbal communication. It’s a bit of a machine.

­čôŞ: Rick Bannerot

NS: What’s next for the Argo crew?

Corning:┬áA record that we really want is the Caribbean 600 record, which has been elusive, although we’ve tried a couple of times, so we are reconfiguring the boat with new foils and new rudders for this winter campaign and the campaign next year. We have a very focused program to start that race on the very best possible foot. So, hopefully, the conditions are such where that’s possible.

Then next year we’ll be in Europe with the boat, for the Fastnet and Middle Sea Races. It’ll be cool to do the Fastnet on the new course for the first time and I suspect many of the hundred footers will race, so a record or anything line honors might be impossible for that race, but perhaps the Middle Sea race record is in our sights.

Then maybe the last thing we have in the longterm plan is to perhaps try for the Route of Discovery record which is Spain over to the Bahamas in the fall. But that is obviously a pretty far out there and we’ll kind of see what happens with it.