It was an experience I’ll never forget: blasting downwind across the Northeast Providence Channel, on a deep water passage from New Providence to Chub Cay. We were sailing inside the Bermuda Triangle, just a few hundred miles off the US coast but in a place that is uniquely wild and sparsely populated, fringed by mile upon mile of shallow turquoise waters.
We were not aboard your typical cruising cat. The Eagle Class 53 is a unique carbon catamaran with a hybrid wing and soft sail. It is super light, and super fast, and we took it on an early season northbound sprint from the Caribbean to the USA. The Eagle Class 53 is currently set up with C-foils, but the purpose of our trip was to safely send her on her way up to Bristol, Rhode Island, where the builder, Fast Forward Composites, will shortly be fitting T-foils for full-on flight.
Our trip began when we touched down at the end of our third flight, landing in monsoon rain in Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. After a hair-raising taxi ride though the thousands of motorbikes and scooters that teem across the city, we wearily arrived at Ocean World Marina on the north coast. My first impressions were that the country (which shares an island with Haiti) is more akin to Cuba than the Caribbean. Rather incongruously, the gleaming Eagle Class 53 awaited us in the marina, surrounded by slightly ageing architecture. Meanwhile, huge swells generated by the strong northerly winds broke over the breakwater.
OFFSHORE DAY SAILER
My wife Rachel and I are in the photography business, but both of us have quite a few ocean passage miles under our belts. We knew the Eagle inside out from previous photoshoots, but those usually involved us going back to our hotel after dark. This trip was going to be part photoshoot, part delivery, as we took what is essentially a high performance daysailer offshore. The end destination was Fort Lauderdale in Florida, and along the way we hoped to visit some of the best spots in the Turks and Caicos and Bahamas.
We’d sailed the Eagle 53 many times in 20-plus knots over the previous season, and learnt that she is well behaved, if a little exciting at times. Unlike the America’s Cup flying winged cats, the Eagle’s hybrid wing stays permanently hoisted, and when not in use is freed to feather in the wind. The wing has a track running up its trailing edge, along which a soft mainsail can be raised for extra sail area and a more efficient shape.
However, the soft wingsail is easy to back off when needed, and with a total crew of four including Rachel and myself, captain Tommy and his crew, we were confident that we wouldn’t find any conditions we couldn’t handle.
The 800-mile trip would be in passagemaking mode so we lashed fuel and water cans to the decks as we spent a couple of days preparing, while sheltering from the strong northerlies.
Unfortunately we’d have to miss out on the Turks and Caicos as a series of cold fronts were coming our way, promising strong headwinds for our trip north. We set off instead for Great Exuma, the southernmost Exuma in the Bahamas. In the early hours we slipped our lines and, with a slight push of the wing (a great stand-in bow thruster), glided sideways off our marina berth before heading out through the gap in the reef.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
SUPERYACHT DESIGN IS AS BOLDLY IMAGINATIVE AS EVER, REPORTS SAM FORTESCUE
NOTHING TO STOP YOU
WHEN PLANNING AN OCEAN PASSAGE, HOW DO YOU ENSURE YOU CAN KEEP GOING NO MATTER WHAT? RUPERT HOLMES FINDS OUT WHAT VENDÉE GLOBE SKIPPERS CAN TEACH US ABOUT MID-OCEAN REPAIRS
WAS AN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE ‘BOT’ THE SECRET TO EMIRATES TEAM NEW ZEALAND’S AMERICA’S CUP SUCCESS?
Gender equity drive in racing
As part of a remix for the coming season of the foiling SailGP series, each of the eight teams are to add one female athlete per team. Teams will be incentivised to include female athletes in rotation for ‘active roles’ and to include women in the sixth position, progressing to ‘practice and/or training in key roles’.
Resurgence in round the world races
A clutch of ‘budget friendly’ new round the world races for sailor-owners has tapped into renewed enthusiasm for adventure and endurance sailing. All three new events are set to take off in 2023.
Grenada to host ARC+ rally
A new destination is being introduced for the ARC+ rally in November that could bring the total number of yachts sailing across the Atlantic in rallies this winter to a record-breaking number of almost 400.
Science while you sail
Cruisers can help improve scientific knowledge about the health of our oceans while going sailing.
GETTING INVOLVED IN THE HELICOPTER BOMBARDMENT OF A REMOTE ISLAND… ALL IN THE NAME OF A WAR AGAINST MICE
WHEN SURFING SUPERSTAR JOHN JOHN FLORENCE TOOK HIS GUNBOAT 48 ON A 2,500 MILE CRUISE TO REMOTE PACIFIC ISLANDS HE FOUND A THRIVING ECOSYSTEM THAT MAY GIVE US ALL CAUSE FOR HOPE.TOBY HODGES REPORTS
AFTER AN UNPREDICTABLE MATCH, EMIRATES TEAM NEW ZEALAND DEFENDED THE 36TH AMERICA’S CUP – AND COULD ALREADY BE SHAKING THINGS UP FOR THE 37TH. MATTHEW SHEAHAN REPORTS FROM AUCKLAND
It’s easy to see why Barbados has long been favored as an escape to the sun
What to Expect If You're Flying in 2021
Policies enacted by the airlines in 2020 may change air travel for the long haul.
Light in a pinch
In emergency lighting situations, more light is always better
NEW YEAR N3W YOU
Each year in Dec and Jan, Athleisure Mag interviews celebrities to discuss their N3W YOU: THE GOOD, THE ADD and THE BUZZ.
Jamaica – License to Thrill
Where to play like James Bond and rock out like Harry Styles in Jamaica
An Aviation Mentor
Why it’s so important
Holidays at Sea
Plan ahead for seasonal and special-occasion sailings.
SMOKING AND GRILLING with Chef David Rose
It has been quite a year and yet, 2020 continues to roll on. In the midst of a lot of uncertainty, there have been things that remind us how life was prior to living in the pandemic that has taken place across the globe. This holiday season will be a bit different than what we have experienced with us socially distanced and not partaking in holiday parties and events that we have been used to in the past. We caught up with Chef David Rose to hear some tips on how we can tackle this year's season.
Caribbean Coral Reefs in Danger of Extinction
“Te world's coral reefs, one of the ocean's most beautiful marine habitats, is in danger of extinction because of dramatic increases in coral diseases caused by climate change and warmer waters”.
The Caribbean rises with resiliency in the wake of hurricanes and the pandemic.