Beowulf leaving Norfolk, VA on her way to the BVI at the start of the 2001 Caribbean 1500.
She’s cruising along at 16 knots. Her windward ballast tanks are filled with sea water, she is upright, comfortable, and ever so easy for the two of us to sail.
The full width main and mizzen travelers made jibing a controlled affair, and the canting bowsprit brought the code zero reacher or spinnaker far enough to weather that we did not need to bother with spinnaker poles. Although Beowulf was strictly a cruising yacht, with washer and dryer, a lovely interior, and all the usual piles of cruising stuff, she was still quick. That speed kept us out of bad weather, and allowed us to hang with favorable conditions.
On this five day three hour passage, Beowulf set a Caribbean 1500 record that still stands.
We are anchored above in Dehais, Guadaloupe, before the start of the Guadeloupe to Antigua feeder race. That’s the mighty Mari Cha III anchored alongside. In 1999 Mari Cha had taken an hour off the race record, making the 42 N passage in three hours and ten minutes, a time that everyone thought would stand for years.
We were hanging out in Antigua in 2000, when on the spur of the moment we decided to take part in the race from Guadaloupe. The breeze was backed a little from the norm, and sailing with son-in-law Todd Beveridge as crew, we smoked across the course in three hours and five minutes, breaking Mari Cha’s record, to the surprise of everyone, including the race committee who barely arrived in time to record our finish.
In 2001 we did the race again, now with Mari Cha on hand. In 14 to 16 knots of NE breeze, reaching, she waterlined us, putting 30 minutes on the diminutive Beowulf. She owed us an hour on handicap, so we won overall on corrected time, but then we have always believed the first boat to finish wins the race.
We were much more concerned with passage times under cruising conditions than the odd race. Our most memorable trip in this regard was Nuka Hiva, Marquesas, to San Diego, roughly 2850 miles against the trades. The two of us did this passage in 12 days and three hours, using a pair of hurricanes to slingshot ourselves along the way. You can watch a video of this passage below.
Fast is fun, and you get there quicker too.
Post script: Beowulf was on average 25 NM a day faster on tradewind passages than the FPB 83 Wind Horse. Only the FPB 97 Iceberg equals her average time. But not even Iceberg could stay with Beowulf if the breeze was fresh.