Phaedo after the ARC: Shifting into Cruising Mode

The ARC, which starts each November in the Canary Islands, is very much a European event and the Americans who run it are often a bit out of the ordinary. Without doubt, the least ordinary American boat in this last edition of the rally was the Gunboat 66 Phaedo.
Author:
Publish date:
Updated on
phaedo.1

Wandering the docks at Rodney Bay Marina in St. Lucia in December as the last of the 2011 ARC fleet came trickling in, I was mostly interested in talking to folks on American-flagged boats. The Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (to cite its formal name), which starts each November in the Canary Islands, is very much a European event and the Americans who run it are often a bit out of the ordinary. Without doubt, the least ordinary American boat in this last edition of the rally was the Gunboat 66 Phaedo.

When I first stepped aboard the big bright-orange catamaran, I initially had no idea who I was talking to. A soft-spoken, not-quite-clean-shaven young man in a t-shirt welcomed me into the cockpit after I hailed the boat from the dock, and I naturally assumed he must be crew. He eagerly pointed out the skipper (Paul Hand, on the left in the photo up top) and some of the other folks aboard, and it was only after I inquired directly as to his own identity that he admitted, a bit bashfully, that he was in fact the boat’s owner.

You could have knocked me over with a feather. Lloyd Thornburg (on the right up there) certainly doesn't look or act like someone who has just dropped what must be something north of $4 million to build the boat of his dreams. But he sure does know what to do with it. After departing Cape Town, South Africa, where the boat was built and launched, in November of 2010, Lloyd raced Phaedo successfully in the Caribbean circuit early in 2011, in the Transatlantic Race this past summer, and then in the Fastnet Race, in which his photo chase boat famously rescued the crew of the maxi Rambler 100 after she lost her keel and capsized just past Fastnet Rock.

Learning this, you might assume Lloyd is some kind of balls-to-the-wall racing royalty, but in fact his roots in the sport are rather modest. The first boat he ever owned was a Soling (which he did not race), then he sailed a Pacific Seacraft Dana 24, followed by a Bristol Channel Cutter 28, and then a 37-foot steel Amazon, which he cruised singlehanded around the West Indies for a while.

Then came a quantum leap to a Gunboat. Lloyd, who hails originally from New Mexico, didn’t have an entirely coherent explanation of how that happened, beyond saying that he saw one and fell in love with it. If Gunboats didn't exist and he bought a boat "off the shelf," as he put it, he admitted to me it would most likely be a Hallberg Rassy, a brand he has long admired.

When he ordered Phaedo he clearly conceived of her as a cruising boat, but somewhere in there it seems he was thoroughly seduced by the aesthetic of carbon fiber and the cutting edge of modern boat construction. By the time she was finished, Phaedo was the most aggressively built Gunboat to date in terms of weight reduction, complete with a state-of-the-art distributed-power system fed by lithium batteries.

These days I'd say Lloyd is a true cruiser/racer. A veritable Carleton Mitchell for the 21st century. His eyes do light up when discussing the performance of his boat. She'll average 300 miles a day when she's in race mode (her best day so far has been 385), with more than 4 tons of gear and fluids left ashore, and 240 a day when she's in cruising mode. When I asked, half in jest, whether he'd ever flown a hull on Phaedo, Lloyd immediately answered, eyes brighter than ever: "Yeah, all the time. Sometimes, I swear, it feels like we get both of them out of the water."

And, as you can see in this video here, he really isn't kidding about that.

It seems Lloyd particularly enjoyed the Fastnet Race. He told me an amazing story about how they almost didn't make the start. It seems a boat struck Phaedo the day before and seriously damaged one hull, and it was only through a miraculous series of coincidences that it was barely possible to get the boat repaired in time. Phaedo in the end was third around the rock, right after Rambler, and Lloyd's photo boat was right on the scene, waiting to snap pix, but got sidelined into rescuing people instead.

"We were just 15 minutes from retiring from the race to join the search," explained Lloyd. "But then we got word they recovered everyone. Just think--if we hadn't repaired our hull in time, the photo boat wouldn't have been there, and the next boat racing was two hours behind us."

Clearly, the drama of all this captivated the young man, but still there's a big part of Lloyd that just wants to go cruising. He entered Phaedo in the cruising division of the ARC, because he wanted to use his engines when the wind got light, and because he wanted to eat some real turkey on passage for a change instead of freeze-dried food. Phaedo was third boat over the line in St. Lucia (after a super-maxi and a racing trimaran), and might easily have been first if she'd been in race mode, but right now that doesn't seem so important to Lloyd and his crew.

"It was a lot nicer not having to chase some Volvo 70 around a course," he admits.

phaedo.2

Lloyd told me in St. Lucia he wasn’t entirely sure whether he'd be racing or cruising around the Caribbean this season. Coincidentally, however, I saw the boat again at Ile Fourchue, off St. Bart’s, a couple of days before New Years.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to go over and speak with Lloyd again before he and his crew raised anchor and hoisted sail. But I will say they looked very much like they were cruising instead of racing.

phaedo.3

(To find out more about the other Americans I met who sailed in the last ARC, be sure to check out the March 2012 issue of SAIL.)

Related

01-Lead-show

France’s Annual Multihull Show

If a boat show could be described as intimate, the annual Salon International du Multicoque in La Grande Motte, on France’s Mediterranean coast, is it. Held in the latter part of April, the multihulls-only in-water show is a boon for builders, because the people who attend come ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Check the waypoint  Most errors with GPS and paper chart navigation are caused by the operator punching in the wrong numbers or plotting the lat/long incorrectly. The surest way to double-check a ...read more

Furlex-Electric

Gear: Seldén’s Furlex Electric

Furl Power Seldén’s Furlex Electric offers an easy path into the world of sweat-free headsail furling. The compact unit can be retrofitted to an existing manual Furlex unit or installed as a replacement for whatever you’ve got now. Its DC-DC converter accepts your boat’s 12V or ...read more

11_DSC8423Tom-Zydler

Cruising: Nova Scotia

There’s a unique cruising ground that combines access to urban locations with easy escapes to wilderness and nature. Its native people may be the friendliest on the east coast of North America. Its coastline runs 250 nautical miles in a straight line, but that should be ...read more

01-LEAD-shutterstock_727849660

Boat Monitoring System

Boat Oversight In a world where you can track your friends’ locations in real time and stream yourself live on the internet, it should come as no surprise that you can also keep a close eye on your boat from the comfort of home. In fact, not only is there a plethora of options ...read more

pilot_saloon_42-_en_navigation_11

Boat Review: Wauquiez Pilot Saloon 42

Old salts grouse about modern aesthetics. It’s just what they do, and the hard lines and spartan interiors of today’s production boats give them many reasons to complain. French builder Wauquiez, however, seems to consistently be able to marry contemporary elements with ...read more