Ranger and Hanuman line up in Newport R.I.
Friday 17th July 2009
History was made on Friday, 17th July, when the replicas of both Ranger and Endeavour II (Hanuman) lined up together, 72 years after these designs first raced each other in the America’s Cup, Newport, R.I. in 1937. In that event, the British challenger Endeavour II lost to the US Cup defender, Ranger.
Friday’s historic sail in the waters just off Newport, home for the America’s Cup throughout the J Class era, confirms the promise of breathtaking sailing in what are acknowledged to be the most beautiful yachts in the world.
With a soft 10mph wind and difficult sloppy sea conditions, Hanuman lined up with Ranger for a first beat to weather. Hanuman started with around a 300 metre lead and hung on to it for around one hour, suggesting that the two yachts were very evenly matched, although Hanuman is just ‘out of the box’ and Ranger is now fully race prepared.
Both yachts agreed to the same sail configuration - double headsail, cruising mainsail and asymmetric spinnaker with no pole; Ranger’s cruising mainsail was clearly well used.
Hanuman also showed great promise downwind. Whilst she had some difficulty through the gybes, she was able to stay in contact with the polished downwind performance from Ranger. This historic meeting of the two yachts takes the J Class fleet into an exciting new era with the boats evenly matched in performance, offering competitors and spectators the promise of great fleet racing.
Hanuman was built at the Royal Huisman shipyard to the original lines of Endeavour II and is a maximum size ‘Super J’, along with Ranger and the Swedish design Svea (also designed in 1937 and yet to be built).
Saturday 18th July 2009
Shrouded in sea fog, the Newport Bucket, an annual Pursuit Race around Newport Bay, got underway with a 10 mph Southerly breeze but by the time Hanuman and Ranger were starting, the skies had cleared to a perfect, sunny 12-15 mph breeze.
Hanuman was awarded a one minute advantage and made the best of this, crossing the line at full speed. Ranger followed in spectacular style just a few hundred metres behind. Both yachts quickly accelerated away from the spectator fleet to concentrate on their battle within the Bucket regatta fleet.
After more than two and a half hours of close racing, it was the new Hanuman who crossed the line just ahead of Ranger by 38 seconds. Hanuman had been helmed by owner Jim Clark, assisted by the experienced America’s Cup tactician and sailmaker, Tom Whidden.
Ranger, helmed by New Zealander Erle Williams (fresh from racing the Volvo Ocean Race on board Puma) closed the gap in the last few minutes of the race by setting a kite for the last sprint to the finish.
Sunday 19th July 2009
With clear skies and a building wind from the South, the yachts got underway for this second and last race. Handicaps were reversed and Ranger was awarded a one minute earlier start on Hanuman.
All credit must go to Jim Clark, who not only commissioned Hanuman, based on such a great historical background, but also got behind the wheel and sailed her to success on this first outing.