Windrose and Adix better Charlie Barr's Atlantic record

Windrose, the new 152ft Gerry Dijkstra-designed schooner and the 209ft three masted Adix completed a thrilling transatlantic duel last night when both yachts bettered the time of Charlie Barr’s schooner Atlantic, which in 1905 sailed the course from Sandy Hook lighthouse, New York to the Lizard in Cornwall in 12d 4hr 1min.

Although Windrose reached the Lizard some 6hr before Adix and 17 1/2 hours ahead of the 1905 passage time (Windrose took 11d 10hr 26min 10sec), neither will go down in the record book.

They were unable to beat the time set by Phocea, Bernard Tappy’s 244ft four masted monohull which, with the aid of power winches (like Adix and Windrose), set a time in July 1988 of 8d 3hr 29min. The achievement really lay more in bettering the time in a yacht of similar dimension and style to Atlantic, something Adix’s skipper Paul Goss in particular has been trying to do for years.

Barr’s time established a record which stood for 75 years until 1980 when Eric Tabarly sailed across in a touch over 10 days in the foiler trimaran Paul Ricard. Bearing in mind there were no powered winches on Atlantic, Barr depending entirely on human muscle to work the ship, his achievement remains all the more remarkable. Since Tabarly’s breakthrough, there have been plenty of yachts which have sailed faster, perhaps the most extraordinary being Steve Fossett’s maxicat Playstation which managed 4d 17hr 28min 6sec.

But no yacht similarly rigged to Wilson Marshall’s 185ft three masted schooner Atlantic has ever sailed faster than the 1905 time and ever since Adix , also a three masted yacht, was re-configured in 1991 her owner and Goss have been itching to better it. Goss has tried twice before without success, including during the Transatlantic Challenge in 1987 when the whole fleet was headed as it approached the British Isles and had to beat to the finish.

Not so this time. Both yachts had a big gale driving them to the Lizard last night. “It’s been a bit of a personal vendetta this one,” a delighted Paul Goss told Yachting World via satphone this morning as they sailed through the Needles on route to Cowes having passed the Lizard at about 0200. “I think Paul must be on cloud 9, probably 10 – it’s a great achievement for Adix because she has almost the same dimensions as Atlantic. I think Paul’s laid the ghost of Charlie Barr at last,” said Gerry Dijkstra, navigator on Windrose, the yacht’s designer and also the man who re-designed Adix.

Although Windrose beat Adix it was if she was acting as a pace yacht providing the competition Adix needed to get that extra knot out of the massive schooner. Paul Goss was delighted with the average speed of 12.5 knots, which compared with Atlantic’s 10.2 and, interestingly 11.8 for Windrose who, due to weather tactics, sailed a shorter course.

On paper the two yachts look incomparable. Adix is 184ft on deck compared to Windrose’s 133ft and the all important water line lengths are vastly different, 96ft 4in for Windrose and 137ft for Adix. The latter, steel hulled yacht displaces 385 tons compared with 150 odd tons for Windrose whose hull is built of lightweight Alustar. Windrose was expected to be fast in the light and in the early stages was some 200 miles ahead of Adix. But when Windrose was overtaken by a ridge of high pressure Adix saw an opportunity, reached up to the north and by the time the yachts closed again was within 60 miles of the new schooner.

A couple of big gales in the latter half of the crossing favoured Adix who topped 25 knots on a surf and began hauling in Windrose who suffered furling gear failure and spinnaker pole heel damage. However, Windrose topped 26.5 knots on a surf and was able to take her foot off the pedal and preserve her lead when at 1130 yesterday Adix’s position was revealed and they realised that with the wind still holding they would make it to the finish ahead of both Adix and Barr’s legendary time.