Skip Sheldon's Zaraffa has won the 'first ship home' title at North Atlantic Challenge

Skip Sheldon’s Zaraffa crossed the finish line in the DaimlerChrysler North Atlantic Challenge at 09:17:28 (UTC) Saturday and claimed the coveted ‘first ship home’ title in this first-ever race from Newport to Germany.

The passage took 13 days, 15 hours, 7 minutes and 28 seconds. During the 3,618 nautical mile journey, the Reichel/Pugh 65 recorded a top speed of 25.7 knots. Sheldon and crew – Mark Rudiger, Richard Clarke, Neal MacDonald, Richard Mason, Greg Gendell, Michael Joubert, Justin Clougher, Josh Adams, Dave Flynn; Geoff Ewenson and Rodger Erker, were welcomed in by 100s of well wishers who lined the banks in Cuxhaven.

“We were extremely lucky with our weather routing,” said Sheldon of Shelburne, who at 73-years-old adds this title to an impressive sailing record. “It is the key to any race.”

Rudiger, who Sheldon describes as “the best navigator in the world” described the race briefly. “The most difficult [part] was the start,” he said. “We went up into the cold eddies when most of the others went further south. We invested early and that paid off. This was a trip we expected to be awful and it came out to be great.”

Shedon added, “It is not enough to have a fast boat and a good crew, you also need very good crew management, which we had. We had six people aboard, who have sailed with me for three years.”

The next boat due to finish is Tempest, chartered by Arthur Bugs Baer, Dr F. Karl Van Devender and Dr William A. Dunn. Tempest, projected to arrive the morning of 2 July, flies the burgee of the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) of which Baer and Van Devender are members. Lawrence S. Huntington, commodore of NYYC, and his yacht Snow Lion currently lie in third position overall with a projected finish of 2 July.

On IRC corrected time, Team888 (ex Kingfisher) is currently in the lead, with a projected finish on 4 July.

Zephyrus V has retired from the race citing rudder problems. Ian Moore, the yacht’s navigator, told race headquarters today, “This morning we damaged our rudder bearing. We believe the damage to the bearing is containable and should not deteriorate as long as we keep the bearing unloaded. We have shortened sail considerably and at this time we are heading towards Southampton.” The race committee will continue to monitor the boat’s progress to shore. Also retired from the race is Meltemi, due to problems with the electricity.