From a poor start in the first couple of races, the 141ft/43m schooner This Is Us went on to prove she’s no slouch, recording her first win in a superyacht regatta at Palma. David Glenn was aboard to witness her steady improvement
An invitation to join the André Hoek-designed schooner This Is Us (ex-Skylge)
came after the St Barths Bucket when I’d suggested in a report that she’d played a little fast and loose with the rules.
Blessed with raw speed and the ability to manoeuvre far more quickly than her traditional looks might suggest, This Is Us always managed to wriggle out of trouble with impressive acceleration and for her competitors she was irritatingly hard to shake off. Pesky was the word I used.
“Join us in Palma for the Superyacht Cup,” beamed her congenial skipper Robin Winn and, while I had no hesitation in accepting, I was wondering what the catch could be.
There was no catch. Winn and the hospitable Belgian owners, Dirk Cavens and Kristine Van Hool, were simply keen to demonstrate the yacht’s pedigree and after three days’ racing it was easy to see why they were such proud owners.
This Is Us is arguably Hoek’s best-looking design. She is named, incidentally, after a song performed by Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris, which Cavens and Van Hool thought summed up their feelings when they first saw the yacht.
It’s certainly unusual and Winn also comments that when attempting to communicate with a station by radio, having to transmit “this is This Is Us” can lead to a quizzical response.
But the dark blue schooner has a whizzy lift keel of the fin and bulb variety and her pointing ability is almost as good as a sloop of the same size. “Most schooners go sideways upwind – that’s what they do best,” said Winn, but This Is Us has unusual bite to weather and throughout SYC Palma sailed considerably higher than the much larger Athos and Adela.
Shortly after her launch in 2005 as Skylge, she was whisked off to the Pacific by her previous owner and has only recently ‘come out’, as it were, on the superyacht racecourse.
Circuit veteran Winn, armed with a couple of new sails, fancied his chances in Palma and was able to draw on a long list of schooner sailors who knew the bay and the racecourse like the back of their hand.
“What could possibly go wrong?” asked helmsman Patrick Whetter in reply to an email circular prior to the regatta which revealed names like Steve Carson (former skipper of Adela), navigator Ray Dwyer, Spike Thompson, another Palma expert and top trimmer, and skipper Jeff Halon among the 30-strong crew.
Aerial Photos and above: Ingird Abery
Onboard photos: David Glenn