Local hero Kip Stone's Open 50 win in the Transat is a dream come true
Baking summer weather and a party atmopshere with crowds of family and friends greeted local hero Kip Stone today as he became the first American class winner of the Transat. Stone, who lives in nearby Marblehead, brought his Open 50 ArtForms home over 200 miles ahead of his nearest rival, fellow American Joe Harris.
Stone, 43, a successful entrepreneur with a business designing and printing T-shirts, has funded this dream himself from scratch, commissioning designers Owen Clarke, having the boat built in Australia and familiarising himself with her by sailing back from New Zealand to the UK earlier this year. Those technological choices and hard-won experience have paid off brilliantly.
But Stone’s journey was a long and hard one, and his story familiar. Almost the first observation made by the exhausted looking, shotblasted skipper as he stepped on to the dock was one which precisely echoed Nick Moloney’s comment a few days ago: it was freezing. “Until last night I was cold the entire time. I didn’t expect it to be as cold as it was,” he said, adding that it was worse – much worse – than his experience of the Southern Ocean.
“I was prepared for it to be hard, and it lived up to my expectations,” he said. “We had a real blow doing down to Newfoundland: 40 knots and big seas. You get one of these boats on top of those waves and it’s a long way down with little control, or so it seems.”
Until then, he had been in contact with Joe Harris, but when the two split it was, he says, “nerve-wracking”. That tactical decision paid great dividends, and Stone extended a huge lead. And as he hugged friends and colleagues from his business, he beamed and said: “It’s the dream race. I just got here and it hasn’t settled in yet, but I’m so happy to follow in the footsteps of all the great sailors.”