Argo Crew Reflect On Record Breaking Run

June 19, 2022

Jason Carroll stood on the dock at Royal Bermuda Yacht Club well after midnight, looking fatigued yet energized after winning line honors in the 52nd Newport Bermuda Race.

Carroll and his crew on the MOD70 trimaran Argo set an elapsed-time record time of 33 hours—faster than any elapsed time ever recorded in the 116-year history of the Bermuda Race—covering the 635-nautical mile course at an average speed of 19.24 knots. But it wasn’t without some pain.

The forecast under-appreciated just how rough the sea state was,” said the 44-year-old Carroll. Later he added, “The whole crew is wiped out. We’re tired.”

After finishing, Argo rolls up her jib with St. George’s Harbour in the background and begins motor-sailing slowly around the island to Hamilton. Chris Burville photo

Argo Bermuda June 19 2022 (1)

Tired, perhaps, but also happy to set another course record—Argo’s sixth, to go with two world records. They were the first Saturday-night finishers in the history of the storied race, co-organized by the Cruising Club of America and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.

“We’re thrilled about the record,” said Chad Corning, the program’s manager. “There are only so many major ocean races…to have the Bermuda Race, the Middle Sea Race and the Caribbean 600 means a lot to us. And it’s great to be the only boat to finish on Saturday. The Bermuda Race has so much history, this record is probably the most significant one for us because it is such a well-established race. It’s a great feeling.”

Carroll’s international crew aboard Argo included Westy Barlow [Newport, Rhode Island], Corning, Pete Cumming [Warsash, England], Thierry Fouchier [Marseille, France], boat captain Chris Maxted [Melbourne, Australia], Charlie Ogletree [Seabrook, Texas] and Alister Richardson [Bournemouth, England].

After the finish, the crew of Argo stands in the trimaran’s relatively small cockpit. Overhead, the two reefs in its mainsail testify to the crew’s efforts to use less sail area to avoid overpowering the boat. Chris Burville photo

Argo Bermuda June 19 2022 (2)

It was previously reported that navigator and sailing master Brian Thompson [Cowes, England] was part of the crew, but he tested positive for COVID before the race and did not sail. He was replaced in the crew by Barlow, and Corning filled in as navigator.

“On paper it was very much a rhumbline race,” said Corning. “We ended up to west of rhumb because we had to sail high to keep the boat under control. If we bore away, we’d have sped up too much. We were trying to keep the speed around 20 knots. So, we were keeping a higher course to keep the boat slow, that’s why we weren’t on rhumbline.”

“After starting the race with a full main and J1 headsail, clearing the committee boat within mere feet, Carroll said that it didn’t take long for the crew to start depowering.

“We spent a lot of time throttled back, making sure we wouldn’t have a problem. It was quite rough for us in the middle of the race,” Carroll said. “About three hours into the race, we were down to two reefs and the J2. Ten hours in we had the J3. We made a whole bunch of steps down in first few hours as we got offshore.”

On its final approach to the St. David’s Lighthouse finish, late Saturday evening, the MOD 70 trimaran Argo shows its sleek lines and black sails made of carbon. The time-lapse photo turns the port navigation light into a red streak. Chris Burville photo

Argo Bermuda June 19 2022 (3)

Corning echoed Carroll in saying that it was a rough race, mostly due to the sea state.

“We were expecting a sea state of 2 to 2.5 meters, but in general it was 3.5 to 4 meters,” said Corning. “The Gulf Stream was a bit smoother because the current direction was more or less aligned with the wind direction. We had 25-30 knots of wind for most of the race, and the high was mid-30’s at times. We were really just hanging on.”

Corning said that they transited the Gulf Stream at about 90 degrees and saw a 4-knot current flowing west to east, but they were in and out of it quickly. They sailed the meat of the course with two reefs and a storm jib for about 21 hours, from Friday evening until Saturday afternoon.

“It was some of roughest conditions we’ve had on the boat,” Corning said. “The sea state was just nasty, coming from all different directions. You never knew where the waves were coming from and they would hit the boat at all different angles. You had to crawl around the cockpit to get anywhere. It was a very violent motion, a lot of the guys got sick.”

Photos of the Argo in Bermuda today:

argo yacht Bermuda June 19 2022 (1)

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argo yacht Bermuda June 19 2022 (5)

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argo yacht Bermuda June 19 2022 (7)

argo yacht Bermuda June 19 2022 (8)

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