Jan 6, 2010, 4:39 PM
Post #1 of 2
Here's the abridged history:
Whatever happened to SPEEDBOAT?
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When the new Juan Kouyoumdjian designed 100-foot maxi SPEEDBOAT was launched on April 14, 2008 in Auckland, New Zealand's Viaduct Basin, all heads turned to look at the product of Cookson Boatbuilders and Southern Spars. Commissioned by American Alex Jackson, this supermaxi represented the latest in sailing technology and innovation, and would soon be coming to the USA.
Using the New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta in mid June as a tune up, Speedboat’s offshore legs would see its first test later in the month, where she took line honors and the "First to Finish Prize" for the 2008 Newport-Bermuda race. But Speedboat had its sights on bigger goals, specifically setting a new transatlantic monohull record, which had been held by MariCha IV since 2003. Interestingly, the skipper of that record run, Mike Sanderson (GBR), was now in a similar role for Jackson to set a new standard.
In what must have been a busy month, Sanderson and his team onboard Speedboat began their attempt on June 29th to beat the Mari Cha IV record of 6 days, 17 hours, 52 minutes and 39 seconds. The effort would not last long, as by June 30th they were forced to drop out after one of their daggerboards broke. The team returned to Newport, RI for repair and evaluation, with plans to try again. And then things got complicated.
In late August 2008, Jackson inked a deal with Richard Branson and Virgin Money to sponsor their sailing program. Also joined by many British America’s Cup Team Origin members, the boat and team became exceedingly branded with the Virgin Money logo as they went on standby in Newport, RI for another attempt at the transatlantic record run.
On October 22nd, the monohull maxi-yacht now named Virgin Money set sail for the transatlantic record attempt, with the crew also including Branson, his two kids, another rich buddy, and a camera man. The conditions were rough, the Branson contingent was uncomfortable, and two days later the effort was abandoned with purported claims of gear damage.
The truth of what really happened has been a closely guarded secret as Branson controlled all the media, but with the weather window closed for further attempts for the season, the boat was able to head south for Florida where it could be “repaired” and live out the remaining time of the Virgin Money contract.
Fast forward to now, the boat appears ready for a return, and with the absence of any new builds during the economic downturn, Speedboat remains atop the fleet. She is in West Palm, FL getting fitted out for a spring return to Newport, RI, where the cycle will begin again to compete in the Newport-Bermuda Race, and then give the transatlantic record another try. -- Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
Virgin Money record attempt: http://tinyurl.com/yb4dfa4