Owen Clarke Class 40 wins the Marblehead – Halifax Race on PHRF corrected time

Class 40 Open sailboat Cutlass with Alex Mehran in Newport RI Credit: www.billyblack.com
Class 40 Open sailboat Cutlass with Alex Mehran in Newport RI Credit: www.billyblack.com

Nick Halmos and Alex Mehran’s Owen-Clarke Class 40 Cutlass finished outright winner ahead of fifty nine yachts in the six PHRF divisions of the Marblehead (USA) to Halifax (Canada) Ocean Race. Onboard was Owen-Clarke designer Merfyn Owen, racing over the same course for the second time in two years.

Cutlass, with a crew of four and recent overall winner of the Bermuda 1-2 on elapsed and corrected time was the first class 40 over the finish and placed ninth overall sandwiched between the much larger Donnybrook, a custom 73’ sled and Clover 3, a racing version of the Swan 56. The race was a relatively slow tactical affair, battled out in predominantly light downwind conditions until the last twenty four hours when the breeze filled in from the east resulting in a beat for the last third of the race.

Clover 3 and Cutlass crossed tacks some one hundred and twenty miles from the finish, Clover for some reason making three covering tacks on top of the much smaller Class 40. Cutlass broke cover and sailed a leg on the unmaking tack to the south east for two hours to get further from the coast and then sailed hard on the breeze banking further miles to weather all night rather than heading directly for Halifax. The predicted night shift to the north east arrived around midnight and in the morning to our joy onboard we found that the extra miles we had sailed were not in vain. At the channel fairway bouy we arrived four boat lengths behind Clover 3 as they came in from the shore having battled up the coast during the night. This overturned the situation last year when having lead for most of the race Cutlass (then 40 Degrees) was overtaken in the final hours having followed pre-start local advice to stay inshore at night along the coast.

From the outer channel mark, the Swan 56 opted to take the left hand side of the channel on a straight run to the finish while onboard Cutlass we were left with little option but to do something different and heated the asymmetric kite up sailing higher angles and after five perfectly executed gybes crossed the finish ahead by a couple of boat lengths into Halifax’s spectacularly beautiful harbour

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