Rob Windsor - Owen Clarke Design's 'go to' man in North America

Thursday, 31 October 2013
For those of you who don’t know, haven’t met him, this is Rob Windsor. Rob is Owen Clarke Design’s agent in North America. However, he’s currently shirking this part time duty as he’s about to set off as co-skipper of the Class 40 11th Hour Racing in the Transat Jacques Vabres, the bi-annual double-handed race from France to Brazil.

Rob’s done some impressive mileage this year, including bringing the OCD designed 40 Degrees (renamed 11th Hour Racing) across the Atlantic this Summer, his second Class 40 Atlantic crossing in as many years.

If you need support of any kind, crew, co-skipper, delivery racing support on or off the water for your racing or cruising sailboat, especially Class 40, then Rob’s the most experienced Class 40 guy in the US, bar none. He doesn’t just sail and put together the Owen Clarke boats either (which is good for us as we receive feedback around the circuit) but he would be your North American point of contact if you owned or built an Owen Clarke boat over there.

Follow his TJV program here
and take a look below at what Rob was up to in the early part of this year. It will make you smile and tire you out just reading it !

     

“Wow, 55 days away from home is a few too many. It started on Jan 2 with a flight from NY to Charleston to work on Michael Hennessy’s OCD Class 40 Dragon.  It ended, on Feb 23rd with a flight back to NY from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

A little prep work and a few minor repairs and she was ready for launch. I left Charleston headed for Ft Lauderdale 500 miles away and the start of the Key West feeder race. We had Nick Halmos, another OCD Class 40 owner and his girlfriend Emily coming along with Mike and I. After a few days more of prep we set off to the start but not without a little drama. In my prep, I had changed the fuel and oil filters. I ran the engine at the dock with no trouble but when we left the dock to catch the draw bridge the engine decided to quit.  We had to toss out the Class anchor to stop us from running into the draw bridge on an outgoing tide. We missed two bridge openings but in the end, I took the filter out of the equation and ran the engine off of fuel out of a jerry jug.  We were racing in the IRC, which is not really where Dragon shines. We had our sights set on a few of the boats in our division and the one in front. In the end, after 160 miles we squeaked out a Swan 42 over the line which made us pretty happy.

After the race, I hopped a plane back to Charleston to start the second round. I was in Charleston to help Hannah Jenner get 40 Degrees ready for the RORC 600 in Antigua. 40 Degrees is an OCD Gen 3 Class 40 owned by Peter Harding. She lost her rig at the start of the Atlantic Cup last year and since then, Hannah has been working on shaving down the keel and getting a new Southern Spars rig in. We did a few rigging bits and several other jobs prior to departure. Then we were off to Antigua, 1400 miles away.  Right away, I could feel that the modifications made to 40 Degrees were going to be great. The boat felt super light even though we had a bunch of delivery stuff and gear on board. We hit 24kts on the second day and I was thoroughly impressed. We hit Antigua in, 7 days 8 hours dock to dock. I had been wanting to get to do some sailing with Hannah and this was a great trip. To top it all off, they went out and won the 40 Class in the RORC 600, smashing the record for Class 40’s in the process. With no rest for the weary, I was off for round 3.


     
 
A flight to Key West was next, to fetch Dragon and bring her up to Ft Lauderdale for the Pineapple Cup.  The delivery up was single handed. It is only 160 miles so not too far but an overnight none the less. Single handing is not my favorite but I made it through the night with a few hours sleep and all was well. Ft Lauderdale has my number, more drama when I arrived at the bridge. For maybe the first time ever, I made it to the entrance of a harbor at exactly the time I had planned. High tide, bridge opening, everything on time. I try to put the gear shift in reverse to wait on the bridge opening and nothing. I can’t get the tranny out of forward! I had to maneuver into the marina and my slip with the boat stuck in gear. I managed this with some quick foot work, jumping off and putting on the brakes before I crashed into the dock. With only 2 days till the start of the race, I had to figure out how to get the problem with the tranny fixed as well as get the rest of my list completed. In the end, I took the saildrive apart with some borrowed tools. Found the gears stuck on the spline, caught on a small burr. I got it all cleaned and put back together and thankfully working.

For the race we had 5 on board. 5 is a lot when we are talking 811 miles and maybe 4-5 days on a Class 40. Some boats are a little better equipped to deal with people but Dragon was set up more as a single handed boat so there is not much sleeping room below. We figured out some arrangements and got to it. We had a top speed of 19.7 kts with yours truly driving and finished the race in 3 days 18 hours. We had some trouble and blew up two kites along the way. We ended up crossing the line first but 3rd on corrected time.  We enjoyed a great welcome in Montego Bay, with a case of Red Stripe and a round of applause. All in all, it was a great race.


       

Round 4. The next event for Dragon is in St Thomas. For those of you who don’t know, St Thomas is 800 miles straight upwind of Jamaica. This was not a fun delivery. It blew 30+ for a few days right on the nose. Class 40’s are reaching machines and they are awesome but hard on the wind for days on end is not comfortable in any boat. Least of all, a 40. I made it all the way to San Juan, Puerto Rico, 60ish miles from St Thomas. The boat is now tied up at a dock, safe and sound.

I get about 3 weeks of home time now. It is great to be home and see my family for a while. I will be back at it on the 15th of March. Off to St Thomas and the Rolex Regatta on Dragon. After that, I will deliver Dragon back to Charleston for the start of the Atlantic Cup. Before the Atlantic Cup starts, the plan is to deliver 40 Degrees back to the UK with Hannah for the Normandy Channel Race, but I’ve some plans and we may postpone that until later in the year.

I may break my personal best for miles sailed in a year this year. I am up to about 4,000 miles already and it’s only February !“


 

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