This forlorn hulk is all that remains of one of the greatest ocean beaters in sailing history
Recognise this boat?
Maybe not immediately. But if I tell you that this used to be ENZA New Zealand it might ring a bell.
It goes back even further. What you are looking at here are the remains of the boat that kicked off the whole maxi multihull record-beating lark.
This was the boat that started life in 1982 as Mike Birch’s Formule TAG. In it Birch set the fastest 24-hour speed record of the modern era, then 512 miles in a day. Not forgetting that this was 30 years ago when, for most people, a 200-mile day was so noteworthy it was worth calling home via Portishead Radio.
This amazing boat began at 75ft LOA, was cut and shut and repeatedly modified to end up at 105ft. It went through many famous evolutions. It was Sir Peter Blake’s and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s Jules Verne Trophy winner ENZA New Zealand and later Tracy Edward’s all-women round the world challenger Royal & Sun Alliance.
It was also Team Legato in The Race in 2000, the first ever round the world race for maxi multihulls (the one Pete Goss’s Team Philips was built for, remember?) then Team Daedelus in Tracy Edwards’s Oryx Quest, and still later known as Doha 2006.
The big boat still belonged to Tony Bullimore when the boat capsized on a delivery trip across Biscay in 2010.
This is where it now lies, forlorn in Brest. I spotted it a couple of weekends ago on the same pontoon as the glistening new recordholder Banque Populaire V. It is a sad reminder of where these big boats end up in the end, white elephants excluded from the circus.
You can see from the sad state of the structure that the boat isn’t going racing again anytime soon. It has been stripped of any deck gear or other salvageable equipment and is structurally in a poor state.
What’s left, I’m afraid, is an expensive big piece of marine litter. It’s hard to see how anyone would even dispose of it. I talked to designer Nigel Irens last week and he told me that as the boat was built largely of Kevlar sandwich you’d need to take a chainsaw to it to break it up.
It’s nostalgic stuff. This great boat was way ahead of her time and is definitely a grand piece of history.