Friday, May 11, 2012

Dodging Icebergs in Thick Fog Near the Titanic

May 11, 2012 16:40:00 UTC
47°12.37 N
050°40.88 W
Heading: 46°
Speed: 20.4 knots
DTF: 1,784.9 nm

It is indeed an eerie feeling to be dodging icebergs in thick fog near where the Titanic sank about 100 years ago.  There is a distinct advantage we have with the new technology that exists. It is in the form of a very good B & G radar.  The fog is very dense and Maserati (our little carbon sailing rocket ship) seems highly unnatural in the vicinity of such difficult to detect chunks of hard water.  A growler the size of a refrigerator would definitely make for a bad day as we skim across the water doing 20 plus knots and unfortunately, the technology to see those is really not practical or readily available for our application.  We have roughly 150 nautical miles left of this nail biting experience but there was no way to avoid the need to play this game of Russian Roulette and keep our record attempt anything more than a delivery to England.

On that note, we are doing well and we are happy to be ahead of Mari Cha IV’s record time at the moment. However, it is very much in the balance and Mother Nature has our destiny in her hands.  The low we anticipated is no longer the key feature to our final push over the weekend, which was intended to launch us toward England for an arrival early next week. The weather models have changed significantly and now we must tangle with a high pressure area that will set up a large windless region very far north and along our route.  We are not only in a race with Mari Cha IV’s legacy but very much also in a race to see if we can position ourselves for the formation of the high pressure area.  A little luck and a kind eye from Mother Nature will be needed.

Ciao for now from a very frigid Maserati,

Brad and the Maserati boys

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Life On Board Maserati - Day 1

May 10, 2012 13:26:00 UTC
42° 24.60 N
061° 38.08 W
Heading: 67°
Speed: 19.8 Knots

We are chasing one of sailing’s most prestigious records and we are trying to beat a very fast pace set by Mari Cha IV.  Here is the current situation.  First, we have embraced a much different approach from a weather strategy point of view.  Mari Cha IV left New York behind a cold front on NW winds that carried them much of the way to England before they had to tack on a high pressure area for the last third of the attempt.  This meant they were on a fast port reach until tacking to starboard allowing the wind to free them back to a starboard reach for the final approach to England.  The opportunity that presented itself to us is the opposite.  We left New York ahead of an arriving cold front on Southerly winds that should carry us much of the way Across the Atlantic and then we will need to gybe to port and hook into a low pressure system to the north pushing us to the finish.  Both theories work well but we need the wind to stay steady and it has been a bit lighter than forecast for the several of hours of the voyage. 

The other point of significance is that we are doing our attempt in the spring instead of the fall which means spring icebergs south and east of Newfoundland.  I will talk more about icebergs in tomorrow’s blog as that will definitely be on the front of our brains for the following day.  Today is all about trying to stay in the best wind strength possible as the forecasted 22 knots has been elusive and we are currently in wonderful tight reaching conditions of 17 knots.  Normally lovely, but not the crazy record breaking conditions we need.  So our fingers are crossed for the big noisy show that Maserati is so gifted at.

Life on board is getting chilly and it is wet, but nothing like when we will sail through the North Atlantic cocktail in a couple days.  I can’t decide if that cocktail should be served with crushed or full size ice cubes but neither sounds very good to me at the moment, and I happen to know that a mixture is on order.

Ciao for now from Brad and the Maserati Boys!

Check out our tracking and Maserati route versus Mari Cha IV:
Here is the latest video we shot on board Maserati:

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Racing Against Ourselves

21°28.40 N 
039°02.63 W 
Heading : 295 ° 
Speed : 19.6 knots 
Distance to finish : 1975.60 nm

The whole notion of breaking records is interesting.   In our case aboard Maserati we are laying down a benchmark time for the old Columbus Discovery Route.  It is funny to feel so much pressure to perform, but we all want Maserati’s first monohull speed record to be long standing.  This is all more interesting than I would have thought before becoming involved.  The idea of racing yourself is different. In some ways it makes you push harder than you would racing against a fleet of other boats because you don’t really know how hard is hard enough.  There is a different combination of challenges when racing against other boats real time on the same course.  It comes with positives and negatives.  We are always reaching for high boat speeds. However, we are also pushing as hard as we dare in as much wind as possible (within reason of course). 

Yesterday I was at the helm of Maserati with a full main, the biggest kite we could find in the stack and a staysail. We were pushing hard downwind in 30 knots of breeze with boat speeds in the same neighborhood. We quickly found that maybe it was a bit too much, when the kite blew out from head to foot and went for a swim.  Just my luck, I had to be the one driving at the moment!  It is definitely an exciting challenge to say the least. In some ways the racing is even more intense because you are racing yourself. Therefore, no lead is big enough!

A great bi-product of this first record for us is discovering that Maserati (a modified Volvo 70) can do what we hoped if the weather gods treat us nicely.  In the 1900 or so miles that we have covered in four and a half days, we know we have the capacity in boat speed to beat Mari-Cha’s transatlantic record in a few months, if we can find the right weather window.  We have averaged about 18 knots and Mari-Cha’s tranatlantic record average was about 17.5 knots.  In some ways this makes me think we might not even need the big breezes we thought we did. A consistent 25 to 30 would do the trick.

For now the Maserati crew members are enjoying the feeling of the water and winds of the trade winds, as they begin to wash over us on our push to the Bahamas.  It is a rather awesome early February weather situation and a great place to be.  Although the waves of water that crash through the cockpit in just about all weather conditions would blow anyone away, not only literally but figuratively.

I wonder what Christopher Columbus would have thought of knocking off 400 plus mile days on the way to his destiny!

All the best from the crew of Maserati,


Monday, February 6, 2012

Off and Running Aboard Maserati

24°13.48 N 
032°52.40 W 
Heading : 241 ° 
Speed : 23.2 kts
Distance to finish : 2284.20 nm

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We departed Cadiz, Spain aboard Maserati with a great weather window for our first record.  I say first record because in this case we are setting a benchmark monohull record for what is known as the Discovery Route or more commonly understood as Columbus’s route to the Americas.  With the benchmark as our goal, we want to lay down a serious time to beat for a couple of reasons.  First, we want to set a mark for our abilities and that of the boat. Second, we need to push hard and train together as a crew aboard Maserati in preparation for the other records on the horizon.  An added bonus is that we want this record to stick for a while and hopefully stand up to the test as other boats and crews take a whack at it.  The good news is that we have knocked off roughly 1200 miles in three days which is a pretty good (and wet) clip.  The modifications made to the Volvo 70 (previously Ericsson III) to turn her into Maserati seem to be working out great and she is quite capable.
On a personal note, this has been a great change of pace for me. I not only get to train and sail with a crew of great professionals, but it is also wonderful to spend time with my old (don’t tell him I called him that) friend and mentor Giovanni.  Gio creates a respectful and hard working environment amongst the crew, and also a friendly demeanor, which can be challenging aboard a boat that takes a lot of work to sail. This is especially tough since we decided a crew of 8 would make this first run and serve as a test for what we can really do in some of the other records ahead. When this boat competed in the Volvo Ocean Race of 2005-6, it was raced with 10 crew members.  We really need to have an entire email just about stacking the sails and inventory going on with a mere 16 arms aboard!  Look for that in one of my next blogs! It is great to be offshore with an excellent team facing an ambitious program right now and in the future.  It will be an exciting adventure and we are off to a rip roaring start!

All the best from the crew of Maserati,

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Visit LP on the Docks This Weekend!

If you haven't had the chance to take a close look at Le Pingouin since the race, I will be hanging out on Saturday afternoon at the Cooper River Marina. Le Pingouin will be open for tours and we'll also be raffling off a free private sail for six to one lucky guest. Come check it out and enjoy the beautiful fall weather on the Cooper!

Saturday, November 5
Cooper River Marina


Rain date: Sunday, November 6

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Storm Stories: First Irene, Now Katia...

 Hurricane Irene really threw our Le Pingouin Summer Tour off track and now our finale of the summer sailing is in the hands of Katia. These women are high maintenance and no fun! I am grateful that Irene spared us any damage, but that was not without a lot of prep and loads of help from friends.

As I arrived in Newport aboard Le Pingouin, after brief visits to New York and Boston, it was time to get ready for some swank hospitality and sailing during the Bucket Regatta. We were not an entry in the regatta, but had plans to take sponsors out on the water and view the amazing fleet of 100+ foot yachts. It was to be a VIP weekend full of sailing, parties and schmoozing. Well, Irene didn’t like that idea and sent the mega yachts sailing for cover in Maine and poor LP and I in Newport to await the unknown voracity of the storm ahead.

I decided to prepare for the worst and hope for the best, following the sage words of Mayor Bloomberg. This is not an easy task when the subject at hand is a 60-foot light weight carbon sled weighing in at only 8000 tons and boasting a mast of neatly 100 feet. We decided to take everything off the boat we could to reduce windage. This involved removing all the sails, lazy jacks, and wind instruments. We entered storm track mode!
We tied LP off the dock at the Newport Shipyard between pylons so she was suspended in the basin. The process was nerve racking and took a lot of extra hands. I am mostly a crew of one these days, so I was grateful to have some temporary crew support in the form of local friends and Newport Shipyard’s great team. The storm was not as bad as forecast. The storm surge definitely happened and we did see 50 knots and gusts a bit higher, but LP hung in there and handled it well. After a full day of watching and waiting, we faced putting LP back together and readying ourselves for the penultimate leg of the summer tour - Newport to Bermuda.

Let me introduce Katia. She sounds nice but is unpredictable, just like most of her friends. As I prepare this morning, loading provisions and fuel, the intent is to sail to Bermuda, unless Katia gets in the way. Danny Havens will join me as crew and our two guest crew onboard include Shana Bagley of California and Jay Nadelson of Florida. They are fired up for the ride and have helped a great deal in the preparations.

Katia looks like she will form into a major hurricane and might affect our plans to get to Bermuda. If she grows into the bruiser she looks to be, our destination may be altered. If she heads toward the U.S. coast we will likely keep the bow pointed to the tropical shores of Bermuda (although my family is in Charleston and that could be stressful). If she heads for Bermuda, I’ll either be headed home or back to Newport. We’ll error on the side of caution. I am usually telling people we don’t have an ETA only a destination, but in this case the destination is a bit unknown as well. Be nice to us Katia! Stay tuned for more news as we throw the dock lines off for the next adventure.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Awaiting Irene in Newport

I am here in Newport, RI with Le Pingouin, awaiting the brunt of hurricane Irene. So far so good. We have her tied down very well and the Newport Shipyard has been a great help, along with many local friends that chipped in to get us ready. Now it is a waiting game. We will be updating throughout today with photos and notes as the situation allows. Please check in for the latest news at


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

On the Water Again - Headed to NYC

I left Newport about 24 hours ago sailing with Tom Haycock. He is a fellow solo sailor hailing from the UK, who owns a mini transat and works on boats like Bandit and Tribe. It has been a good sail so far and we anticipate arriving in New York by this evening. I haven’t sailed into New York Harbor since my 2002/3 campaign with Tommy Hilfiger. I’m certain it will bring back memories of the summer of 2002 when I lived in the city for 3-4 months doing non-stop client entertainment and media sails. We would sail down the Hudson for a spectacular view of the Statue of Liberty and then back to the dock, or head out to the Jersey shore to showcase the massive TH sails along the beach. It was busy and fun, but a bit overwhelming at the time with a newborn child in the intense non-stop action of New York and prep for the Around Alone race. I look forward to a brief stay for media visits and catching up with a few friends.

We’ll be at the North Cove Marina before heading off to Boston on Aug 12. There is still time to join us onboard to experience offshore sailing on an Open 60. Here’s the deal:

·         2 slots remaining for NY to Boston transit: August 12-14, this one will be a fun weekender!
·         Limited space remaining on Boston to Newport transit: August 22-24
·         Limited space remaining for Newport to Bermuda: August 29 - Sept 3
·         4 berths available or one on one double-handed sailing from Bermuda to Charleston: Sept 6 – 10

I’ll keep you posted as we get to New York and continue the Le Pingouin Summer Tour!


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

It is August and you may feel like summer is quickly coming to an end. Not so fast! There is still time to enjoy the sweet freedom of summer. Come sail with me aboard one of the fastest boats in the world! There is limited space for individuals and small groups to take off on Le Pingouin, the Open 60 speed machine which recently took 1st Place honors in the VELUX 5 Oceans race. Options range from sail training to corporate events and include visits to Newport, New York, Boston, Bermuda and Charleston. Don't miss out!
Sail one-on-one honing your sailing skills and experiencing the thrill of manning the helm of an Open 60 speed machine; or share the experience with fellow sailors for a full day on the water or taking off on a transit to various northeast ports or Bermuda. SEE FULL DETAILS:

Looking for an exceptional platform for client hospitality this summer that will leave a memorable impact? Please take a moment to consider this unique opportunity to showcase your brand and entertain key clients, new business prospects, employees and media. Options include corporate sailing outings, dockside receptions, and speaking engagements. SEE FULL DETAILS   

Cheers, Brad

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Getting Back in the Game

It’s been exactly three weeks since I flew home from France following the finish of the VELUX 5 Oceans race. I’ve enjoyed some time at home with my family and nearly conquered the simple, yet extraordinary, task of building a tree house in the backyard. All is well and I have actually had time to sleep and recover a bit.

It is time to get my head back in the game. I’m currently headed to Boston (again via plane) to the Harbor Fest event featuring the Extreme 40 circuit and their first event here in the USA. I am looking forward to connecting with the Extreme 40 crowd, many who have travelled from all corners of the world to be here. Tomorrow is Opening Day and I’ll be participating in a variety of events, most notably getting on one of these bobsleds to sail as the 5th man. This should be fun! I’m going in with very little knowledge of the whole scene: tight, city-front racing on extreme 40 foot multihulls. It will be an entirely different type of sailing circus with spectators and media lining the docks! This has been very successful in Europe and it will be exciting to see how Boston engages in the event. I will definitely report back via blog with some news and photos. Thanks for keeping up with my activities and stay tuned at