The RORC Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland race has always been on my bucket list. 1800 miles of the best of the British summer wind conditions and increased tactics incorporating strong tides and even the choice of going clockwise or anti-clockwise around the British Isles. What’s not to like?
This years race is shaping up to be a great one to watch, Sydney Gavignet’s MOD70 Oman Sail will be there with a team of Omani sailors supported by Damian Foxhall and Jan Dekker ready to go for line honors, five VOR65 teams lining up to offer us a sneak preview of this winter’s upcoming VOR battle and even Sir Robin Knox Johnston will be there, double-handing his IMOCA 60 aged 75, what a legend!
So despite promising myself one month of NO racing, when I got the call yesterday to join the crew of “Stella Nova”, a brand new Class 40, I stopped in my tracks to give it serious thought. Then they told me the boat is Sam Manuard’s latest Mach 40 creation and I was already online booking my Flybe ticket to Southampton.
“Stella Nova” was delivered at the beginning of 2014 and will be raced by Guadaloupe skipper Nicholas Thomas for the Route du Rhum this coming November. Until then, its German owner, Burkhard Keese is running a very successful crewed campaign including a win at the local ArMen race last month.
The Mach 40 has quite the reputation already, boat #2 was Jorg Reicher’s MARE.DE that I raced in 2012 winning the offshore leg of the Atlantic Cup and then getting 2nd in the Quebec – St Malo. Boat #3 is none other than GDF SUEZ, skippered by Seb Rogues and currently cleaning up the Class 40 World Championship series with considerable ease. Stella Nova is boat #4 and has some interesting upgrades to the older generations including more rake in the rig, modifications in the ballast and the keel raked two degrees aft.
Here’s a video of the boat in ‘cruise mode’ back in May that also gives a nice view of the interior:
We will be lining up against three other class 40s this Sunday including Ned Collier-Wakefield’s new Ker design, Concise 2, current Class 40 course record holder. With Hurricane Bertha on her way, we’re looking at a fast ride which potentially could push us to an anti-clockwise course. This is a rare option, but in World Sailing Speed Record Collector Brian Thompsons words “I’ve got 3 records on this race and all of them were going anti-clockwise”.