RIO Wins!

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Charles Dunstone’s TP 52, Rio, Takes Overall Honors, Crescendo, Dragon Fly Plus, Hugo B Among Big Winners In 2009 Running Of Antigua Sailing Week

Falmouth Harbour, Antigua (April 30) – The list of boat names is legendary: Titan. Kialoa. Infinity. Sayonara. Morning Glory. Pyewacket. The roster of yachts and sailors who have captured overall honors at Antigua Sailing Week is certainly long and distinguished. And today, on the sixth and final day of competition for the Division A race boats at the annual regatta, a new skipper and boat joined that illustrious list of champions when Charles Dunstone’s Transpac 52, Rio, capped a dominating performance with two more victories to win overall honors for the 2009 edition of Antigua Sailing Week.

“We got what we came for, sunshine and twenty-five knots every day,” said Rio’s captain, Richy O’Farrell. “We had a pretty good week in terms of crew work and boat handling. Everyone seems very happy, certainly Charles is walking away from the week very pleased. The day around the island was awesome, and we had another day where we had a little squall come through as we went offshore, so that was a 30-knot flame-up and we hit some pretty good speeds with spray all over the deck so it was good. I think we saw 24 or 25 knots (of boat speed) that day so it was up there.”

Rio’s largely professional crew, including many members of England’s Team Origin America’s Cup squad, also included Duran Duran lead singer, and Whitbread Round-the-World Race veteran, Simon Le Bon.

“Everyone did a good job this week,” said O’Farrell. “The trimmers were Simon Fry from North Sails, and Chris Mason and Tom McWilliam. They all did a fantastic job. James Stark is our crew boss and pitman and he’s been a big part of our campaign from the start, really, overseeing all the work lists and stuff, and helping me out with the running of the boat. Charles did a great job on the wheel—it wasn’t easy. I think everyone had a good week.”

Rio, a Judel/Vrolijk design built by the renowned Green Marine boatyard in Lymington, U.K., was originally called Stay Calm. Since her purchase by Dunstone a year ago, Rio has been overhauled for IRC competition and had recorded second-place finishes in both Skandia Race Week and in the recently completed Acura Miami Grand Prix, and a third in IRC-1 at the 2009 Acura Key West Race Week, prior to her success in Antigua.

Regarding the boat’s IRC optimization, which included a revamped keel bulb, O’Farrell said, “We took the internal ballast out which is a TP thing, and added a flat-head main which is the main change to the sail inventory. We also changed to a bowsprit instead of a spinnaker pole and consequently added bigger spinnakers.

Looking back on the week, O’Farrell said, “Our Racing 1 class was pretty small in the end which was a shame. ICAP Leopard broke their boom on the first day and I think Windemere did some damage to one of their bulkheads so it was down to us (and the Rogers 46, Yeoman XXXII). But it’s been good fun. I think it was quite close on the handicap so we’ve still been racing hard out there.

“We’ve had a good year,” he concluded. “We won every race this week and have really enjoyed being over here. Hopefully well be back next year. But for now, it’s so nice to home on a high.”

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