The French dominate

After the success of the first two-handed transatlantic race in 1981, it was assumed that the second race in the series would attract even more entries than its predecessor. But the 1986 race suffered from a lack of an early sponsor and alternative events elsewhere. Carlsberg Lager sponsored the race but there was insufficient funds to equip the competitors with Argos trackers and only 49 boats actually started.

Apricot (Tony Bullimore, Walter Greene) was a favourite after the Round Britain win in the previous year and there was the expectation that two people could handle a 60 footer more efficiently than a larger 80 footer. However the performance of the Class II multihulls would depend as always on the weather.

With the absence of several Class I and II boats the smaller competitors felt there would be more interest in their section of the race. 23 of the 36 monohulls were in Classes III and IV (35 to 45ft). Amongst these was Sony Handicam (Ntombifuti), sailed by Kitty Hampton and Mary Falk. Ntombifuti carried water ballast for which owner Ian Radford had obtained approval from the committee despite it then being prohibited in conventional racing.

Paul Elvstrom fired the starting gun on the 8th June and the usual failures occurred. Regular competitors Philip and Frances Walwyn retired and sailed home to St Kitts when their 75ft cat Spirit of St Kitts developed leaks. Peter Phillips sailing 80ft Novanet blew out the main after 4 days and returned to Plymouth. Pete Goss and Chris Johnson sailed the Royal Marines’ 34ft Sarie Marais to second in class despite having to bail a leak caused by a loose keel. Laurel Holland and Joan Greene broke the forestay on their 45ft cat Sebago, and retired to St. Johns. Fourteen of the starters failed to finish or finished over the time limit.

The two remaining Class 1 multihulls took the first two places with Loic Caradec and Olivier Despagne in their 85ft cat Royale finishing in 13 days and 6 ½ hours ahead of Mike Birch and Olivier Moussy in Formule Tag. Tony Bullimore and Walter Greene finished third in the 60ft trimaran Apricot winning Class II almost exactly two days behind Royale. Harry Harkimo and Michaela Koskull, from Finland, sailing 50ft Belmont, finished in 22 days 1 hour to win Class III. Gerry Hannaford and Michael Moody, Hetaera 45ft, finished in just over 22 days to win Class IV, and beat all Class III except Belmont. The Bulgarians, Tenev Svetlozar and Vasil Poov brought their 38ft Bulcan Star in 22 days 9 hours to win Class V and achieve 13th place overall. That 7 different nationalities finished in the first 13 places illustrated the international appeal of the race.

The event was marred by the loss of Berlucchi, the Italian 60 footer sailed by Beppe Panada and Roberto Kramar, which disappeared with no distress call from their self activating EPIRB. Some months later Berlucchi was found floating upside down with no keel and unfortunately the crew were never found.

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