by Robbie Doyle
The 2012 Newport Bermuda Race started on Friday June 15th with a total of 166 entries. This year’s race was by far the fastest one ever. The first three finishers: the 90′ Reichel/Pugh Rambler, the latest 72′ Judel/Vrolijk Bella Mente, and the 72′ Reichel/Pugh Shockwave all shattered the old elapsed time course record, with Rambler setting a new record of 39 hours and 39 minutes, beating the previous Lighthouse Division course record set by Roy Disneys Pyewacket in 2003 by over 14 hours.
Shockwave Wins Five Awards
The Newport Bermuda Race is sailed in two divisions: the amateur crewed division that races for the St. David’s Lighthouse Trophy, and the professionally crewed division, which competes for the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Trophy. Both divisions race under two different rating rules: the condition variable ORR and the single rating IRC.
This year’s overall fleet winner in the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Division under both ORR and IRC was the 72′ Shockwave owned and skippered by George Sakellaris and powered by Doyle Sails. The North Rock Trophy, awarded to Shockwave as the IRC corrected time winner of both the Gibbs Hill and St. David’s Divisions, is a silver replica of the 1960-1990 North Rock Light Tower that once warned mariners of the rocky approach to Bermuda from the North.
This was George’s first Bermuda Race and marks the third major victory for Shockwave this year, starting with Charleston Race Week and then the New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta. While her results so far this year have been consistent, it is remarkable to note that between Charleston Race Week and the NYYC Regatta, Shockwave was fitted with a new mast and every sail in her inventory needed to be heavily modified to fit the new rig.
In the three weeks between the first sea trial of the new mast and the start of the Bermuda Race, Doyle’s team of sail designers and sailmakers worked tirelessly to adapt the existing sail inventory to fit the new dimensions of the rig and associated hardware and produce winning sails. The combination of experience sailing the boat and CFD/FEA analysis helped Doyle guide the boat through a seamless transition that produced sails that performed brilliantly out of the bag.
The jumbo head configuration of Shockwave’s carbon fiber Stratis main was optimized for IRC using Tyler Doyle’s CFD/FEA analysis, matching the boat’s stability verus the driving force and heeling force of the sail. Shockwave’s offshore main used in the Bermuda Race is estimated to be 40% lighter than our competitor’s similarly sized 3Di sail.
Similarly, the shape and construction of our Stratis Technora Code O was optimized using the combined CFD/FEA analysis. Even the aerodynamic sectional shape of Shockwave’s new rig was optimized using Doyle’s CFD analysis. While the resources required to run full RANS CFD/FEA analysis is not trivial, it ends up being much more efficient than multiple rounds of sail testing in real life and makes the reason for one sail’s advantage over another much easier to comprehend.
Shockwave’s latest secret weapon was an ultra-lightweight, high-performance, Stratis Code O on an innovative furling system that she used at both the start and finish and about 40% of the miles covered. This sail carried Shockwave to speeds as high as 24.9 knots! Many on the crew attributed this sail in their 30 minute victory on corrected time. See photo of Shockwave’s Code 0.
Three keys to the race were:
1. Choosing the right sail inventory for the race based on weather forecast. Key to our inventory call was taking a Code 0 and not an A3 spinnaker. We also had a jib top and genoa stays’l. In addition to the main, those were the three sails we used the entire way.
2. Hitting the stream just right. Navigationally, we nailed the entry and exit point of the stream and had 5 hours of 3+ knots of favorable current.
3. Helmsmanship. To drive the boat as hard as we did and not have any damage required some very good helmsmen, and we had a handful.
- Robbie Doyle