Amanda Mochrie’s first Newport-Bermuda Race as skipper almost aborted in mid-May. She was to have taken over, in Newport, the Class 40 yacht she chartered.
Ms Mochrie said: “40 Degrees’ mast broke after cap shroud failure five minutes into the start of the Atlantic Cup at Charleston.”
The boat was shipped back to Europe for a new lighter mast, but wasn’t expected to be available in time for the Bermuda Race.
“This is an extreme example of the typical setbacks that do crop up when preparing for offshore racing.”
40 Degrees’ owner Peter Harding arranged a substitute in Icarus. Ms Mochrie is chartering the boat from Ben Poucher and Tim Fetsch, who have it on a long lease from the US Merchant Marine Academy.
Icarus is the first Class 40 built in the US, according to Ms Mochrie, so it is older, but sails the same as the Owens Clark-designed, Jaz Marine-built 40 Degrees. Like her sister, Icarus is a good all-around boat that does best close on, or just off the wind.
It, too, should be “a very stable boat… set up for shorthanded sailing… designed to do long distance ocean racing.”
Ms Mochrie will provision, practice and go over her charter in Newport with a crew that at press time was in transition.
Ms Mochrie’s brother Thomas Knight, Bermudian Somers Kempe, and ship’s doctor Julie Von Kanel remain.
Navigator Ben Poucher has replaced 40 Degrees’ Hannah Jenner, while Ms Mochrie’s partner Roger McLaughlin has snapped his Achilles tendon and is on crutches.
“We’ll go. We’re not quite sure which of us, but some of us will go,” the skipper said.
Ms Mochrie comes to the Bermuda Race a veteran of three Fastnets, the most recent of which she skippered.
She’s done the Falmouth to Cascais and Capetown to Bahia Races and skippered a Cowes to LaTrinite. She’s completed 25,000 offshore racing miles and a further 25,000 delivery miles.
She raced 40-footers at England’s Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) and owned, campaigned, skippered and sometimes navigated a Carter 33.
The Bermuda resident is vice commodore of the Bermuda Offshore Cruising Association (BOCA) and a regular contender in her J24, Solent Girl.
The skipper said: “My female crew tell me — and indeed it is my own experience — that they have to be very assertive indeed on race boats to gain experience, particularly in positions of responsibility.”
“Any time you have several people in a confined space 24/7 there will be friction, no matter what your sex, or position on the boat.
“There are well established rules about the chain of command on a boat no matter the gender, and establishing and operating those rules effectively is a vital part of being a skipper.”
Ms Mochrie is partial to long offshore races and is ‘thrilled’ to be doing the Bermuda Race.
“Most of my skippering and navigating experience has been in the Solent… The navigational issues are different in this race.”
“(Sailing offshore is) one of the few experiences… today that is very similar to the sort of experience you could have on the ocean a couple hundred years ago… It’s the only thing I do that completely relaxes me.”
“It’s being far away from land… very peaceful, fewer people, fewer distractions.”
Icarus is in the Open Division, in with the professional boats, canting keels and race leaders, according to the skipper.
“We’re not looking for a position. We’re just interested in sailing the boat fast.”