NEWPORT, R.I. — In less than one month, on June 25, a fleet of 15 yachts will set off from Newport, R.I., on the 2019 Transatlantic Race. Among the entrants one stands out as a clear favorite for line honors in the 3,000-nautical mile race across the Pond – SHK Scallywag, the 100-foot super maxi skippered by David Witt, the well-traveled ocean racer from Sydney, Australia.
SHK Scallywag, backed by Hong Kong-based Seng Huang Lee and Sun Hung Kai & Co., recently won line honors in the Antigua-Bermuda Race, covering the 935-nautical-mile course in 3 days, 8 hours and 54 minutes. After seeing the speedo top out between 25 and 30 knots blast reaching on the first night, the race turned light for a stretch. Still, Witt said it offered valuable work on crew maneuvers and systems.
“It was good to do the Antigua-Bermuda Race, good to do a thousand-mile race,” said the 48-year-old Witt. “It helped us develop our crew work for the Transat, but it was quite light, a bit different from what the Transat will be. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
The Transatlantic Race 2019 is organized jointly by the Royal Yacht Squadron, New York Yacht Club, Royal Ocean Racing Club and Storm Trysail Club. The race is a direct descendant of the first great transatlantic ocean race, which started from New York Harbor on December 11, 1866. The 2019 edition will be the 31st transatlantic race organized by the New York Yacht Club, and it remains one of the sport’s most enticing challenges. To see the full entry list, please click here.
After the start on the East Passage of Narragansett Bay, off Newport’s picturesque Castle Hill Lighthouse, this year’s race will finish off Cowes, which stretches the course length to 3,000 nautical miles. A gate will be established off Lizard Point, the traditional landfall for transatlantic crossings, through which the fleet must pass to preserve reference to the 2,975-nautical-mile course record of 6d:22h:18m:02s set by George David’s Rambler 100 in 2011 and recognized by the World Sailing Speed Record Council.
You have to take your hat off to Eric de Turckheim. Having grown up in a sailing family in France, he fantasized from an early age about offshore racing. Now after forging a hugely successful business career, he’s quite literally living his dream through his series of Teasing Machine yachts.
“The Sydney Hobart was the child’s dream I had in the 1970s,” says de Turckheim, now 68. “I would see all the guys going off to do it and I was thinking ‘one day, if I can, I would love to do that race.’” And so, he has.
After returning to competitive yachting in 2009, he raced his first Rolex Sydney Hobart in 2015 and was leading until falling becalmed on the Derwent River just short of the finish line. He returned again last year and, despite the race being on the other side of the world from his native France, he plans to return for a third attempt this year.