Saturday, 7 March 2009
Alfa Romeo II. Supplied image.
by Edward Rowe
It’s taken 30 years, but Neville Crichton, Australia and New Zealand’s leading maxi yacht skipper, is to return to the USA’s most important single yacht race and this time, at the helm of Alfa Romeo, he’s determined to win.
The Transpacific Yacht Race runs for 2,225-mile (4120 km) course from Los Angeles to Honolulu and is the USA’s answer to the Rolex Sydney to Hobart, but its nearly four times longer and heads out into the Pacific Ocean with nowhere to come ashore in case of problems, making it the USA most important single yacht race.
"It has taken me the best part of 30 years to get back to the Transpac Race, but I can't wait," says Neville Crichton, who, at the helm of two generations of Alfa Romeo super maxi yachts is one of the world’s most successful yachtsmen as well as 2003 Yachting New Zealand Sailor of the Year.
Neville Crichton was the skipper of the 42-foot Uin-Na-Mara in Transpac 1979, finishing eighth in the 22-boat B Class. "We were up with the frontrunners until the middle of the race when the winds turned against us - something we will be lot better equipped to avoid this year!"
Neville Crichton. Supplied image.
This summer he returns to the Pacific in Alfa Romeo, the 100-foot Reichel Pugh design some call 'the fastest yacht in the world' ... certainly the fastest monohull ever to grace the Transpac race course. And after dominating the racing scene in Europe (having won line honors in 139 races to date in both Alfa Romeos) Crichton no doubt has his eye on Transpac line honors too, and hopes of upsetting the monohull record of 6 days 19 hours 4 minutes 11 seconds set in 2005 by Hasso Plattner's Morning Glory.
"Given the right winds, I firmly believe the race record is achievable, something we could only dream about back in 1979!" Crichton adds. "Alfa Romeo has clearly established itself as the yacht to beat in Europe and, after all our success in Europe, the Transpac will provide our team with a fresh challenge and a race that is unlike anything in which we have competed in Europe, in terms of both the event and our competitors."
Alfa Romeo will compete in the new "Unlimited" division of RSS 52 waiver yachts (exempt from the Racing Rules of Sailing limitations on stored power) up to 100 feet in length. This class does not qualify for the Transpacific Yacht Club Perpetual Trophy (AKA 'Barn Door') but instead a newly deeded trophy which will debut this summer.
It marks a momentous homecoming for the 63-year-old yachtsman and automobile importer, who purchased his first boat at age 11 from change collected gathering and selling empty beer bottles in his native New Zealand; and who later moved to Hawaii for several years.
Crichton's passion is typical of Transpac racers: once they've had a taste of the competition and downwind thrills, they come back again and again - and from all over the world. Other returning entrants include Ruahatu, from Mexico; Lawndart, Canada; Bengal 7, Japan; and Hawaii's Ragtime - competing in a record 14 Honolulu Races. Forty-seven yachts have already entered this 45th running of the Transpacific Yacht Race, with Close of Entries still two months off (May 27). Transpac 2009 starts begin Monday June 29 with subsequent starts for faster rated boats Thursday July 2 and Sunday July 5.
ALFA ROMEO II RESULTS
Skipper: Neville Crichton
Oct 2008 Barcolana Race Line Honours
Sept 2008 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 4 x Line Honours, 2 x Corrected time wins
June 2008 Boat International SuperYacht Regatta 3 x Line Honours, class & event wins
June 2008 Rolex Giraglia Race Line Honours, new race record
June 2008 Rolex Giraglia Cup 3 x Line Honours, 2 x Handicap win
May 2008 Rolex Capri Race Week Maxi Class Event Win, 2 x Line Honours
May 2008 Pirelli Cup Maxi Class Event Win, 4 x Line Honours
Oct 2007 Barcolana Line Honours, race record
Sept 2007 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 5 x Line Hons, 1 x Handicap
August 2007 Rolex Fastnet Retired
August 2007 RYS Trophy, Scandia Race Week Line Honours, Class win
June 2007 Superyacht Cup 1 Line Honours Win
June 2007 Rolex Giraglia Cup Offshore Race Line Honours
June 2007 Rolex Giraglia Cup Regatta 2 x Line Honours to take event
April 2007 Hublot Palmavela Regatta 5 x Line Honours to take event
October 2006 Rolex Middle Sea Race – offshore race Line Honours
October 2006 Barcolana Race Line Honours
Sept 2006 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 4 Line Honours, event win
June 2006 Rolex Giraglia Cup Offshore Race Line Honours
June 2006 Rolex Giraglia Cup Regatta 2 Line Honours, 1 Handicap win
April 2006 Hublot Palmavela 4 x Line Honours wins
Dec 2005 Rolex Sydney to Hobart 2nd Overall
Dec 2005 Rolex Trophy Regatta Win
Dec 2005 CYCA Big Boat Trophy Line Honours
Dec 2005 Savills Short Ocean Championship Line Honours/Handicap win
Nov 2005 Cabbage Tree Island Race Line Honours
August 2005 South Molle/Daydream Islands Race Line Honours/Handicap win
August 2005 Edward Island Race Line Honours
August 2005 Lindeman Island Race Line Honours/Handicap win