PAC52 Warrior Won (USA) owned & skippered by Chris Sheehan has been awarded the RORC Transatlantic Race Trophy, presented by former RORC Commodore and Admiral Andrew McIrvine at Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina in Grenada.
While 11 boats are still racing, none of the competitors at sea can beat Warrior Won’s corrected time under IRC to win the race overall. Warrior Won completed the race in an elapsed time of 11 Days 5 Hrs 18 Mins and 28 Secs.
Warrior Won has been on a five-year programme of racing, including winning the 2022 RORC Caribbean 600 and competing in the Rolex Middle Sea Race, Rolex Sydney Hobart and Rolex Fastnet Race. For Warrior Won’s owner Chris Sheehan, winning the RORC Transatlantic Race was the ultimate ambition.
Warrior Won Crew: Christopher Sheehan, Chris Welch, Collin Leon, David Gilmour, Dylan Vogel, Isamu Sakai, Matt Humphries, Richard Clarke, Sam Hallowell, Stu Bannatyne, and Tristan Louwrens.
“We raced more than 4,000 miles to complete this race. I am so thrilled to have raced the Atlantic. It has been a fantastic race in amongst a really great crew. At no point throughout the 12 days was there any tension or problems, and the boat performed phenomenally; just total jubilation!” commented Chris Sheehan. “This race has been on the schedule for five years and my crew asked me what the goal was for this race. Normally I say let’s win our class, but having looked at the given forecast, I was audacious and told them, I want to win overall, and we delivered, which is phenomenal!”
Warrior Won Strategist and Watch Captain was Stu Bannatyne, the only sailor to have won four round the world races in a Whitbread Maxi, Volvo 60, Volvo 70 and VO65.
“The biggest strategic decision before the start was whether to go north and take on the low-pressure system, or go south and take on the somewhat weaker tradewinds. The initial routing for the first three days showed that the northern route could be faster, but it came with problems, including managing the boat in a big sea state and also the potential inaccuracy of the forecast later in the race to get south. Working with our navigator (Matt Humphries) and working with our polars, we concluded it was a touch-and-go decision. We ultimately decided that we could push the boat a lot harder on the southern route. Warrior Won loves to go downwind so we made the call to go south.
“Confidence in the routing was improved during the race as the weather grib files downloaded proved to be very accurate. We have done a lot of racing miles with Warrior Won so our polars were spot on, so we were confident that we were going to deliver what the routing was predicting on the racecourse. So, then it was balancing risk versus reward, short term versus long term strategy, and going with what we could see relative to the forecast. We were often sailing what I called the edge of the ‘Grand Canyon’; the big area of light winds to the north. It was high risk to go right to the edge, so we stepped a little bit further south and that worked well. Essentially, after that the boat did the work for us with a great team of drivers and trimmers that know the boat very well. These boats are not really designed for comfort, it was hot and wet on deck and below, so we were all pretty drained by the finish.”
Warrior Won Tactician was Richard Clarke who has competed in five Olympic Games for Canada and won the Volvo Ocean Race with Illbruck in 2002.
“As a tactician you are often in a battle with other boats around you, but for a lot of this race we were on our own. So for me as tactician, it was a more traditional role; taking the information from the navigator and trying to stay two moves in advance of mother nature,” said Clarke. “You think the RORC Transatlantic Race is going to be a downwind Tradewinds surf, but this race was much more of a challenge. Just when you thought the unusual conditions were behind you, another challenge would crop up.
“Dividing the race into four quarters. First of all, the downwind section along the African coast, dodging the commercial and fishing traffic, but it was really pleasant racing south. Through the Cape Verde Islands it was really shifty, but we got through a light air ridge. Entering the third part of the race we had good downwind pressure, but along came the sargassum weed everywhere, it was like salad! Then there was the nasty side-swell from the big system up to the north which made driving at night very challenging. The last few hundred miles we had a lot of squalls, up to 30 knots of wind and rain. It was a race that just kept on giving, but what a rewarding race and so great to win!”
PAC 52 Warrior Won is the first American boat to win the RORC Transatlantic Race and the second smallest boat to do so. Congratulations to Chris Sheehan and his team on Warrior Won.