MIRABELLA & THE MALTESE FALCON MEET AGAIN IN ANTIGUA
Originally Posted by Mirabella V
..The word "race" must not be used since MV is strictly prohibited from racing by insurance companies (my guess is that MF is too, since Lloyds is fairly standard). So there will be no formal start and end point. My father has spoken to Tom Perkins about this already, and the idea was just to go out and sail together (!) if possible.
There are clearly problems with two large boats sailing together, not the least of which is wind disruption. It may end up that we ruin each other's ability to sail well if we're too close. So this may not end up being quite the scene everyone is picturing.
We are hearing interesting numbers from MF's sail trials, and these are similar to MV's, so this should be close. The difference in waterline length may be just too great to us overcome for outright speed in heavy air, but the weight differential may work for us in medium wind.
Anyway, don't hold your breath for this to happen anytime soon, but eventually we'll come across each other in open water. That will be fun.
The world’s biggest sloop and the world’s biggest clipper met up again in Antigua.The Mirabella V wasn’t racing, of course, just doing a bit of sail testing, but everyone wanted to know who won. This is how the Superyacht Cup organizers saw it
The first day’s sailing was a spectacular sight for all, with a stunning display by two of the world´s largest sailing yachts, as the three masted Maltese Falcon (88m) and the sloop Mirabella V (75m) sailed away from the start area outside English Harbour.
The two yachts started together one hour after the first boat, in the pursuit style race for superyachts. Maltese Falcon and Mirabella V are two radically different yachts, but they both performed impressive speeds of over 22 knots in the 18 – 20 knot trade winds. The course took the fleet on a close reach, south of Antigua, followed by a bear away, towards Curtain
Bluff, and a beat back up the coast.
There was little doubt that on the broad reach Maltese Falcon was the fastest boat, flying full sail, but after rounding the bottom mark for the beat back up the coast Mirabella V showed she was willing to put up a fight. Although officially not competing, boat for boat, the two yachts were clearly displaying their credentials. This is how Mirabella V’s captain saw it
We were sitting at anchor, in Antigua, minding our own business. I got talking to Chris, captain of Maltese Falcon and told him I was taking Mirabella V out, as I needed to do some work on the sails while underway. He told me how happy it would make Tom Perkins if we would go and “play” with them in the Superyacht Cup the next day, off Antigua.
When I called Mr Vittoria, to ask if I could take her for a spin, he said he had received an email from Tom, not an hour before, asking him to let us sail. He cautioned me that insurance doesn’t let me race, so to just cruise along, but that it was a great opportunity for the two boats to have a great sail together.
We’d had some work done on the bottom section of the mainsail, in Genoa, by Doyles, and I had yet to re-attach it to the top section of the main, not an easy job to line up the batten pockets so the batten can lace them together, but I decided I could sail with a reef in, because I didn’t have the bottom section attached. I can hear the keyboards typing away already at that comment “still not sailing at full hoist, yadda yadda yadda........”. In retrospect, it was a fine sail selection; I had ample power and all the speed I needed. After the hoist, I gingerly bore away and sheeted in. When I settled onto the course to the leeward and a little ahead on a beam reach. Maltese Falcon was piling on sail all over the place and I thought that it was all over the way she looked to be passing me. I killed the engines, feathered the props and rolled out a jib.
In the 18-22 knots of wind, I found we were only just being overhauled by Maltese Falcon. Because of my concern for the mainsail foot, I didn’t want to vang on, or sheet on, to what I would normally like, so the main was not doing
its best, but I figured Mr Vittoria might not like it if my next phone call was about a ripped mainsail, especially with charter season starting, as I don’t have another in the container!
Anyway, that’s my excuse for the reach, at first; being gentle on the main. The staysail is the equaliser
I unfurled the staysail and found that we were now pretty even on the reach, both doing around 17 knots. The staysail was the equalizer.
Maltese Falcon looked magnificent; waterline length rules, on a reach, and Maltese Falcon has plenty of that over us, so I was surprised we could hang on.
Remembering that Maltese Falcon was competing and we were not, I had to confront my next problem. Maltese Falcon was above me and had to bear away and gybe at the turning mark. I don’t gybe and now had the problem of letting Maltese Falcon roll me and gybe in front of me. I furled the staysail and she creamed along in front and gybed; it looked pretty good from where I was driving. I then, despondently watched Chris take off down the run. He was sailing very high of the mark, because I assumed he needed to run square to reduce sails before the next beat, so he put distance on us very quickly, before slowing down as he ran square to the mark.
I rolled the jib and tacked under main. We came out of the tack at
about 3 knots, set the jib and bore away. Next thing we are still doing 15-16 knots on the run, which amazed me. Once I was up and running I don’t think we lost distance down the run/broad reach.
I closely watched Maltese Falcon round the bottom mark and saw her come out of it at very slow speed and then tack. I realized she was being squeezed for water beyond the mark. My plotter showed her as being in less than 10
metres of water, so I avoided the mark and stayed in deep water (draft being 10 something metres).
I then waited until she was well to windward of me again and then came on the wind. This was Mirabella V country moderate seas and 20 knots. I was getting more confident in the mainsail, so sheeted and vanged a little more. I never was trimmed on as tightly as I wanted, though, and thus was carrying a little lee helm up the beat. We saw 33 knots AWS up that leg, with 35 AWS being the jib’s theoretical limit. I found that 30 degrees AWA worked well with the main undertrimmed. The alarm went off for the jib sheet tension, set at around
20 tons, so it was near its limit. I am glad we had just end-for-ended all the running rigging, because we were maxing stuff out. We also had the cap shroud 200 ton limit alarm going off, but it felt very comfortable.
We put a mile on Maltese Falcon
Curtain Bluff to the finish, off English Harbor is about 5 miles and I don’t think I am exaggerating if I say we put a mile on Maltese Falcon up that beat. I so severely overbaked the layline that I reached into it, but this is what Mirabella V is supposed to do and I can’t take much credit for it. No shame for Maltese Falcon on this leg, it’s just not her point of sail.
At this point we’d had a chance to compare the boats on different courses and I had work to do to the mainsail, so I bailed out and left them to it. The original start time for Maltese Falcon was 1400. Tom Perkins requested it be brought forward an hour, but I don’t think anyone told the chopper pilot, so that cameraman missed some great footage of the two boats barreling along at 17 knots.
That night we all had a beer together in Nelson’s Dockyard. Maltese
Falcon stole the show by going stern to all lit up. I saw Chris and we were both pretty happy to have had a blast together.
There just aren’t that many sailing boats over 200 feet that can actually get out of their own way and we had just had two of them, only a couple of boat lengths apart at 17+ knots. It all makes it more fun for owners and spectators and that is the name of the game. The tortoise & the hare
Mirabella V and Maltese Falcon are apples and oranges; you can’t compare them. I, personally, think Mirabella V is faster on all legs in moderate wind, as she should be, but Maltese Falcon eats me on the corners, as they just brace the yards around and steer. It is the Tortoise and Hare scenario.
I commend Chris on the way he runs and drives Maltese Falcon. His skill complements a very fine craft; she is a really handy vessel. Mirabella V sat out the rest of the races, so I could keep prepping for charter. Sadly, I watched Maltese Falcon through my porthole as she tore up the Caribbean Sea.
As the race organizers have adjusted the handicaps, the racing has become closer and closer, with Maltese Falcon finishing mid fleet today, in the final race, I think. Good job Chris, I was jealous every day.
The best thing to come from the day is that Maltese Falcon is toying with some underwater mods to improve upwind performance. I say “bring it on, Chris”, then she will draw too much water to be able to use my favorit berth at Antigua Yacht Club. See what our priorities really are now?
Guess I’m ready for a “flaming” from Sailing Anarchy readers. Bring it on, guys.
Everyone who saw the boats sailing that day loved it and I just had way too much fun to worry about it.
David Dawes, Master.
The Magazine from BYM News Issue 1 - January 2007 http://www.*******.com/magazine/January2006.pdf