Altair, Argyll and Gweneven taking the podium brings to a close a thrilling Panerai Transat Classique 2015. This edition of the transoceanic race will go down as one of the finest thanks to the high quality of the fleet, the fierce intensity of the competition, and the warm bonds established between the crews. let’s take a look at what made this race so special.
A magnificent winner. With the victory of Altair in the Panerai Transat Classique 2015, an veritable icon of the classic sailing world has added her name to the trophy of the Atlantic Yacht Club. This marvellous schooner dating from 1931 is for yachting enthusiasts everywhere a paradigm of elegance thanks to her sublime lines, the care and precision given to her restoration, and her superb performances in the most prestigious regattas on the Mediterranean circuit. With her remarkable win in real time and corrected time, on a course that took her from Lanzarote to Fort-de-France, Altair has been elevated to the status of legend.
On the second step of the podium is Argyll, built 1948 and designed by the celebrated American architect Olin Stephens, a name that draws admiration from every
sailor worth his salt. Brought together for the adventure by Sabine Masquelier under the command of skipper Emmanuel Fontaine, the latter well known for his incredible success in the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge series, the crew showed immense determination and remarkable sailing skills throughout the race. Gweneven, built 1975, completes the winning trio. Not only the smallest boat in the race, she too was designed by that genius draughtsman Olin Stephens. She produced an impressive performance considering the difficult conditions prevailing in the first two-thirds of the race. A podium featuring three boats from three different eras, of three different sizes (134’, 57’ and 38’) and with three different rigs (schooner, yawl and sloop) is a fitting conclusion to the Panerai Transat Classique 2015, a truly exceptional event that is inclusive, balanced and gives all its contenders a chance.
This edition of the Panerai Transat Classique has been remarkable for a number of reasons. Firstly the pace of the yachts was phenomenal and they all established new personal records in terms of distance run over twenty-four hours and top speeds. Topping the list of the fastest in the fleet was Argyll with an eye-watering peak of 18.8 knots, while the 18.2 knots logged aboard Vagabundo II also merits our respect. These are impressive turns of speed for classic boats. And such performances are even more impressive when you take into account the fine physical condition of yachts and sailors alike when they arrived in Fort-de-France. Indeed, no boat reported serious damage or injury to a member of crew. And this is one of the most important lessons of the past couple of weeks because every person in the race was committed to sailing fast and sailing safe. It was a remarkable Panerai Transat Classique 2015 also by the very high level of competition. The distances between the yachts, despite the impression of an incohesive fleet, were always minimal. That six boats arrived within a period of twelve hours, on 23 January, is proof of the intensity of the struggle out on the ocean, undoubtedly in no small measure due to the presence of some top-quality sailors. In no particular order there were Bruno Jourdren on Corto, Sonar world champion several times over and medallist in the Beijing Paralympics; Thierry Duprey du Vorsent aboard Amazon, former crew for Loïc Peyron on the Trophée Jules Verne in 2011–2012 aboard Maxi Banque Populaire V; and Gildas Mahé on Gweneven, a veteran of the Figaro and the Transat Ag2r with Jean Le Cam and Bernard Stamm.
Begun in 2012, the Atlantic Yacht Club’s partnership with Officine Panerai is a natural extension of the Florentine luxury sports watch-maker’s commitment to classic sailing. Officine Panerai is already the undisputed leader in that area thanks to its sponsorship of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge, the top international circuit for such craft. “Elegance, history, artisanal craftsmanship, uniqueness. The allure of vintage sailing is the product of age-old values which it shares with luxury sports watch-making. The Panerai Transat Classique 2015 is an event that not only expresses those same values but also encompasses a great passion for the sea, a sense of challenge and the audacity of confronting the ocean”
, declared Officine Panerai CEO Angelo Bonati.