A Rare Opportunity Aboard Alfa Romeo

June 29, 2009

Rare indeed, was the sight yesterday of the 100-ft maxi racing yacht Alfa Romeo at the dock by Gladstone's in Long Beach, preparing for the TransPac yacht race to Hawaii.

Aside from the crews provisioning and readying boats for the race, most everyone else at Rainbow Harbor was enjoying the sunny Sunday afternoon and clicking away with their cameras at the impressive collection of vintage Alfa Romeo cars lined-up along the waterfront.

I don't think the Alfa Romeo yacht has ever raced on the West Coast - maybe not even in the US? So, it was a truly special pleasure for Connie Crowley and me to be invited aboard by the yacht's owner Neville Crichton. A gracious host, Neville was kind- and patient enough, to endure my gawking at the sheer size of the winches and lines, the massive canting keel, the state-of-the-art electronics, and to answer all of my silly questions. I don't think I've been surrounded by that much carbon fiber, ever! What an amazing yacht! Down below, it felt a bit like Reichel-Pugh meets Star Trek and Philippe Starck! With the smallest/slowest TransPac boats already having started at about 1pm today, Neville and crew aboard Alfa Romeo have nearly a week longer to wait before their start on July 5th. That's a lot of time/distance to make up on the water and, as Neville noted, not an easy task if the winds don't cooperate.
Daunting as the small boats' six day head-start may be, Alfa Romeo's goal is to break the course record. Naturally. The time to beat? 6 days 16 hours and 4 minutes 11 seconds. If any yacht can break it, I'd have to say this one could! Stan Honey, Alfa Romeo's navigator for the race, and sole American crew, will have his work cut out for him.
The Transpac website will be tracking all of the boats.
After TransPac, Neville said he's off to Europe, to race his 73-foot Alfa Romeo August-September, then back aboard the 100-foot Alfa Romeo for the Sydney-Hobart race on Boxing Day. An enviable schedule, to say the least! Best of luck to Neville and his crew, and many thanks from Connie and me for the opportunity to be onboard such a magnificent yacht. DJ

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