This time last year, we were watching the Volvo boats blasting up the South American coast and calculating carefully when in early May they might arrive in Newport – just down the road from TotalBoat HQ here in Bristol, RI. We were thrilled that not only the hometown hero driving Team Alvimedica, Bristol’s own Charlie Enright, would be pulling into home port, but also that a full fleet of the Volvo 70s would be in town and would stage their restart right here in our awesome sailing mecca – Narragansett Bay.
This year around this same time as last year – we again watch the horizon for some of the Ocean Masters solo sailors who are making their way across the chilly Atlantic Ocean, and are actually bound for New York. Many though, have their bows pointed towards Newport where the Newport Shipyard will serve up first class dockage, services and hospitality as well as a great base for executing repairs.
On or around May 15, these IMOCA 60’s will blaze into Newport in much the same way the VOR boats did: possibly one by one – possibly stacked atop each other – salty as all get-out from a solo crossing from Europe, and ready to get some solid food, solid footing and a bed that doesn’t rock and roll. They won’t stay long, as they have to head to NYC in time for a May 29 TransAtlantic start, racing from New York back to the Lizard in the UK. Back across the Atlantic they go – but this time it’s not a delivery – it’s a race to add to the list of ocean races these sailors are tallying called the Ocean Masters Series. With a similar boat (the IMOCA 60), a running score and a long list of ocean races they compete in, one sailor will emerge victorious – Best Sailor in the World: the Ocean Master – from the whole series – and that includes the completely nutty solo, non-stop circumnavigation that starts in the fall – the Vendee Globe.
The IMOCA 60 boats used for the Ocean Master series is a type of monohull administrated by the International Monohull Open Class Association (IMOCA) and they are 60′ long with a box rule that does not limit design, but keeps all boats inside this rule with strict requirements for stability, weight and performance. And the Ocean Master? Well, their website bills it like this:
Over a period of 24 months the best sailors in the world test their will, skills, endurance, their art, their limits on IMOCA 60 racing yachts in legendary solo and double-handed races under the harshest conditions – across oceans and round the globe – with dramatic passages around the most famous capes.
Over 1000 people have climbed Everest, over 500 have been into space…but less than 100 have ever sailed single-handed non-stop around the world.
The Vendee Globe, the Fastnet Race, Route du Rhum, Transat Jacques Vabre, and Barcelona World Race are some of the spectacular legs in this IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship.
So – If you are nearby Newport mid May – and you, like us, enjoy meeting boats who have put some miles behind their transoms – then keep your eye on the Atlantic horizon or this website – as we will try to give you tracking and arrival info should you want to go meet these crazy solo sailors. At the same size as the VO 60’s – it should be a sight to see just one sailor aboard where the Volvo boats sail with 8 crew. And they will be tired, salty and ready for a crowd to greet them. See you there!
(You can follow along with Alex Thomson aboard Hugo Boss who is already 5 days out heading west towards NYC. Doesn’t look like Alex will be coming to Newport, though.)