Leopard Powers to Victory

Simply put, Mike Slade’s Farr-designed 30-meter super maxi ICAP Leopard is stunning. Her rig looms an imposing 155 feet above her deck, and her wide, powerful transom seems eager to get up and go. While everything aboard Leopard seems ready to charge, one thing that isn’t constantly on the verge of pouncing is the grinding team. Why? Because she doesn’t have
Author:
Updated:
Original:



Simply put, Mike Slade’s Farr-designed 30-meter super maxi ICAP Leopard is stunning. Her rig looms an imposing 155 feet above her deck, and her wide, powerful transom seems eager to get up and go. While everything aboard Leopard seems ready to charge, one thing that isn’t constantly on the verge of pouncing is the grinding team. Why? Because she doesn’t have one. Instead, the boat relies on its engine to power a hydraulic accumulator, which in turn spins winches when the appropriate button is pressed. In a way, it’s almost comical to think that a boat this big uses less human-power oomph than a J/24 to trim on the sails, but in reality the sails are simply too big, and the loads simply to great, for human-powered winches to work on a boat as out there as Leopard.

Given Leopard’s power assist on the winches, she isn’t eligible for any “real” ocean records such as the monohull Transatlantic record, which is currently held by Mari Cha IV on the crewed level, and by Francis Joyon aboard IDEC for the solo record.

As a result, Leopard has had to chase obscure ocean records, such as the west-to-east transat for boats with powered winches, which she bested by eight hours this week, stripping an honor from the luxury yacht Phocea, which she has held since 1998. Since it was there, Phocea’s record had to be broken, but one has to wonder about the relatively small margin that Leopard bested her by.

Having sailed aboard the mighty Leopard at this year's Antigua Sailing Week, I was struck by the fact that getting into the heads of the afterguard is a case of listening to the engine’s drone to know when the boat is about to tack, gybe, or even foot off, as its sound jumps several decibels before big changes happen. While Leopard is technologically amazing and as fast as a greyhound to boot, I walked away thinking that I’d spent the afternoon on a “sail-powered motorboat,” rather than a proper sailing yacht.

So, while Leopard now holds this record (7d 19h 21 minuets), there will always be the associated asterisk next to her accomplishment. Moreover, with a more modern boat, better weather forecasting, and powered winches, the question of why she didn’t break Mari Cha IV's record adds a second asterisk to the accomplishment.

To be fair to Leopard, the trip was billed more as a delivery than a full-on record attempt, as owner Mike Slade has stated that there wasn’t a full sail inventory aboard. Also, Leopard hit a sleeping sunfish while sailing, forcing the crew to drop sails, stop the boat, and remove the fish, luckily without damaging the dual rudders. But one has to wonder if Leopard isn’t capable of faster times, given her amazing power, design, and technology.

For more information, check out www.leopard3.com

Posted: June 5, 2008

Related

2.4mR's racing at the 2018 Clagett Regatta-US Para Sailing Championships credit Clagett Regatta-Andes Visual

Host for 2021 U.S. Para Sailing Championships Announced

The 2021 U.S. Para Sailing Championships will be hosted by The Clagett Regatta at Sail Newport, in Newport, R.I. on August, 24-29, 2021, according to a joint announcement from the host and US Sailing. "We have had a very long working relationship with US Sailing and look forward ...read more

Reflections-photo-CMerwarth

Cruising: Reflections of an Old Salt

I am 90 years old, dwindling in mind and body and fear living too long. Twenty years have passed since I last weighed anchor. Still, when a Carolina blue sky is polka-dotted with billowing cumulus clouds and the wind blows fair, I sorely miss raising sail and setting forth. I ...read more

DSC_0145

Waterlines: Solo Sailing Again, Naturally

In spite of the fact I came to the sport of sailing alone and untutored, in a boat I acquired on my own, I never really aspired to become a solo sailor. It just sort of happened. All these years later, I still never explicitly plan to sail anywhere alone. I’m always happy to ...read more

01a-DJI_0398

Racing The M32 Class

This year the M32 celebrates its 10th birthday. Swedish Olympic bronze medalist Göran Marström and Kåre Ljung designed the M32 in 2011 as the latest addition to an already impressive portfolio that includes the Tornado, M5 A-Class, M20 catamaran and the Extreme 40. Two years ...read more

01-LEAD-23274-Coastal-Oilskins-GSP

Know how: Cleats, Clutches and Jammers

Since the invention of rope, there has also been a need to belay or secure it. Every sailboat has rope on board so, unless you own a superyacht with captive reels or winches, you’re going to have to find a way to make it fast. (As a side note—and before you reach for your ...read more

9e4d8714-2a8e-4e79-b8f6-c9786aaec4d0

Antigua Sailing Week Announces Women’s Mentorship Program

In partnership with the Antigua and Barbuda Marine Association, Antigua Sailing Week is launching a mentorship program to encourage women and girls to join the sport of sailing. President of Antigua Sailing Week, Alison Sly-Adams says, “When we devised the program, we looked at ...read more

01-LEAD-Carmody-Distant-Drummer

Experience: A Badly Snagged Prop in Haiti

When a winter norther blows through the Bahamas, the northeast trades can reach gale force as they funnel through the Windward Passage between Cuba and Haiti. After waiting for a lull, though, we had a fabulous beam reach aboard our Liberty 458, Distant Drummer, from Santiago de ...read more

01-LEAD-IMG_9186

Charter Cruise to La Paz Mexico

Just 24 hours before our scheduled charter in the Bahamas, the government clamped down again on visitors from the United States. Having endured two Covid-19 brain swabs in preparation, I looked at my packed bag on the floor and reached for the rum. I could, at least, pretend I ...read more