I spent most of the last few days helping out with the start of TR2011, much of it hanging out at Newport Shipyard. Not to be too crass about it, but for a yachting fan like me it was like Disneyworld. At one end of the yard is Maltese Falcon, docked next to Rambler 100 and ICAP Leopard. A little further down is Mar Mostro, the new Puma boat for the VOR, looking almost petite compared to the other guys. In the main part of the dock, the two Class 40s Concise 2 and Dragon lay close to the awesome orange Gunboat, Phaedo; Ambersail a 63' Farr with a crew from my father's homeland, Lithuania. Either at the dock or still on stands were Jazz, a Cookson 50, Ourson Rapide an Italian-crewed 60 footer, Prodigy a 54' sloop from South Africa. Many others from the race were in other parts of the yard.
I had a beer with Prodigy's skipper on Friday. They had raced her from Capetown to Rio, then delivered her to Antigua for the RORC Caribbean 600. After TR2011, she like many of the yachts will race in the Fastnet.
Seeing these boats close hand was fascinating but the best part of the weekend was getting to chat with some of the crews. At dinner of Friday night, I sat at the same table as Michael Hennessy and Rob Windsor from Dragon, who are the only double-handers in the race. These guys have prepared well, racing in the Atlantic Cup and Annapolis-to-Newport. Two guys, a 40 foot high-performance boat, 3,000 miles of Ocean, they start tomorrow and these guys are ready.