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The Leopard has left

We wrote last week about the impending departure from New York of ICAP Leopard 3 in her attempt to break the trans Atlantic speed record for a monohull from west to east – well that moment has come and the Leopard has left her lair.

The 100ft super-maxi racing yacht owned by Helical Bar PLC chief executive Mike Slade, crossed the start line at Ambrose Light to begin her attempt on the 2,925 nautical mile monohull transatlantic speed record. ICAP Leopard will need to cross the finish line at Lizard Point before 12h 37m UTC on Saturday 5th June to break the current record held by Mari Cha IV of 6 days, 17 hours and 52 minutes.

Aussie skipper Chris Sherlock reports on his daily blog about the crossing and the progress the Leopard is making to date:

Yesterday was a pretty tough day! We always knew it was going to be to stay up to pace with the front we were riding to try and stay in the stronger SW wind. All day it was reef in, reef out, squalls, change spinnaker according to the wind and sea state due to the fact we were also in the gulfstream. (ie a large river of warm water that snakes along the USA eastern sea board and runs up to 6 knots from South to North)

It is very frustrating sailing trying to make decisions on sail plan to keep the boat rolling along safely but fast. In the early hours of this morning we went back to our A-5 spinnaker for a period but the drivers could not distinguish between the sea and the horizon as we had no moon or stars just as black as the inside of a cow! We were surfing along at 35 knots and decided to reduce sail as it was too risky. Right now we are on the north side of the front in a much better sea way in 20-25 knots of wind making good progress towards the UK with the odd surf up into the 30’s but generally sitting on mid 20’s. Not exactly where we planned to be on the race course but we have to deal with our circumstances and see how it all pans out.

The guys are doing a great job and four hours in the bunk after a fire hosing on deck for four hours goes pretty damn quickly especially after last night where we had all the crew on deck for eight hours changing sails etc… I am sure a few more hours sleep would not go astray but life on board is not too bad. Our freeze dried food is pretty good for freeze dried food and we have a toasted sandwich maker on board as a treat to supplement the FD food – the ham and cheese toasties are hard currency out here as they are not an endless supply!!’

The reality is that she lies about 100 miles behind where she would like to be at this stage in her attempt on the record but she has 5 days in which to pick up that time. Her current speed of 19 knots will have to increase if she is going to threaten Mari Cha IV’s record but so much of that is to do with the weather and that, as we all know, is out of mere mortals control.

We will keep you posted on her progress but should you want to check out her position the link is http://www.leopard3.com/transatlantic_record_attempt_tracker_2010.html

Leopard - Race Photo

Some may ask what is the point – fair enough – but we suggest that this is another rather extreme example of someone, something trying to raise the bar again – for without individuals, teams and organisations pushing the boundaries just that little bit further this world would be left in a state of mediocrity. We laud their attempt and wish them good speed and fair wind.

Leopard - Race Photo

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