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Warrior Won wins RORC Transatlantic Race using partial inventory of Doyle Sails

by RORC/Doyle Sails 2 Feb 22:04 NZDT
Chris Sheehan's PAC 52 Warrior Won (USA) - Overall winner under IRC © Robert Hajduk / RORC

PAC52 Warrior Won (USA), owned and skippered by Chris Sheehan, has claimed the overall title for the 10th edition of the RORC Transatlantic Race.

Warrior Won’s corrected time under IRC after they completed the 3000 nm race on January 18 in an elapsed time of 11 days 5 hrs 18 mins and 28 secs. Warrior Won had Doyle Sails Stu Bannatyne and David Gilmour, onboard for this years race, the team are using a partial inventory of Doyle Sails utilising both downwind and reaching sails.

Warrior Won crew had Sheehan, Chris Welch, Collin Leon, David Gilmour, Dylan Vogel, Isamu Sakai, Matt Humphries, Richard Clarke, Sam Hallowell, Stu Bannatyne, and Tristan Louwrens.

“This race has been on the schedule for five years and my crew asked me what the goal was,” noted Sheehan. “Normally I say let’s win our class, but having looked at the given forecast, I was audacious and told them, I want to win overall, and we delivered, which is phenomenal!”

Warrior Won Strategist and Watch Captain was Bannatyne, the only sailor to have won four round the world races in a Whitbread Maxi, Volvo 60, Volvo 70, and VO65.

“The biggest strategic decision before the start was whether to go north and take on the low-pressure system, or go south and take on the somewhat weaker tradewinds,” commented Bannatyne. “The initial routing for the first three days showed that the northern route could be faster, but it came with problems, including managing the boat in a big sea state and also the potential inaccuracy of the forecast later in the race to get south.

“Working with our navigator (Matt Humphries) and working with our polars, we concluded it was a touch-and-go decision. We ultimately decided that we could push the boat a lot harder on the southern route. Warrior Won loves to go downwind so we made the call to go south.

“Confidence in the routing was improved during the race as the weather grib files downloaded proved to be very accurate. We have done a lot of racing miles with Warrior Won so our polars were spot on, and were confident that we were going to deliver what the routing was predicting on the racecourse.

“So, then it was balancing risk versus reward, short term versus long term strategy, and going with what we could see relative to the forecast. We were often sailing what I called the edge of the ‘Grand Canyon’; the big area of light winds to the north. It was high risk to go right to the edge, so we stepped a little bit further south and that worked well.

“Essentially, after that the boat did the work for us with a great team of drivers and trimmers that know the boat very well. These boats are not really designed for comfort; it was hot and wet on deck and below, so we were all pretty drained by the finish.”

Warrior Won Tactician was Richard Clarke who has competed in five Olympic Games for Canada and won the Volvo Ocean Race with Illbruck in 2002.

“As a tactician you are often in a battle with other boats around you, but for a lot of this race we were on our own,” shared Clarke. “So, for me as tactician, it was a more traditional role; taking the information from the navigator and trying to stay two moves in advance of mother nature. You think the RORC Transatlantic Race is going to be a downwind tradewinds surf, but this race was much more of a challenge. Just when you thought the unusual conditions were behind you, another challenge would crop up.

“Dividing the race into four quarters. First of all, the downwind section along the African coast, dodging the commercial and fishing traffic, but it was really pleasant racing south. Through the Cape Verde Islands it was really shifty, but we got through a light air ridge.

“Entering the third part of the race, we had good downwind pressure, but along came the sargassum weed everywhere, it was like salad! Then there was the nasty side-swell from the big system up to the north which made driving at night very challenging. For the last few hundred miles, we had a lot of squalls, up to 30 knots of wind and rain. It was a race that just kept on giving, but what a rewarding race and so great to win!”

PAC52 Warrior Won is the first American boat to win the RORC Transatlantic Race and the second smallest boat to do so.

Original article published by RORC 19th Jan 2024, republished from Doyle Sails.

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