Thinking about Superyacht Racing!
With the European racing season drawing to an end and many race yachts going into their winter refits for some well needed TLC, it’s time to start thinking about the upcoming events in warmer climes.
While there are many events around the globe in the southern hemisphere summer, a key focal point for northern fleets is the Caribbean season and it’s hard to think about that without thinking of superyacht racing!
Superyacht racing has been around for some time now, in fact my first superyacht event (and I hate to admit this as it’s shows my age somewhat!) was nearly 20 years ago, but it is an area of our sport that has shown a remarkable amount of growth in the last 10 years.
I competed in last season’s St Barths Bucket, on the Dubois 43m Bella Regazza with the wonderful owners Christian and Jasmin, where we raced against 33 other yachts. In my first Bucket in 2004 there was less than half that number. Not only are there far more entries now, the boats are being raced harder and harder. Racing a superyacht in the Caribbean might sound like a luxurious beautiful blue water cruise, but, although there are definitely elements of luxury (the evening socials for one!), pushing hard on a 250ton yacht in 20-25 knots and big Atlantic swells is not for the faint of heart.
Most of the yachts have carbon race sails now and nearly all are flying spinnakers downwind. These are huge kites that aren’t generally too much trouble to get up but require the whole crew and some smart sailing to get them down.
With the yachts racing hard and the sheer size of these vessels, audio communications systems are also becoming a greater requirement. Some of the yachts are using various types of audio systems already, but none that have been designed specifically for yacht racing, so no doubt we’ll be working with some of these teams in the near future.
Closer to home - Next week we are range testing to get these yachts a greater distance for intercom between the chase and safety boats. For some customers we are up to 500 meters, but we want to be even better than that – I’ll let you know how it goes….
Matt Cornwell is a British professional sailor with 28 years of experience in the sport of yacht racing.