Hiro Nakajima’s HIRO MARU scored an incredible come-from-behind win in IRC Class 3 in the 2,960 NM 2019 West to East Transatlantic Race. Nakajima and crew raced his aluminum S&S 49 that was originally launched in 1971 as SCARAMOUCHE. Nakajima and crew finished the race with an elapsed time of 17:02:21:40 to beat Rives Potts’ venerable CARINA, the grand dame of the fleet by nearly five hours on corrected time.
CARINA had led the class for most of the race, but Nakajima believes the race turned in his favor when they passed to the south of the Isles of Scilly (off the southwestern tip of England) while CARINA passed to the north.
“We did not go as far north as CARINA. They followed the weather,” said the 62-year-old Nakajima, a retired architect. “We stayed closer to the great circle route. I think we enjoyed slightly better breeze that allowed us to really close the gap. Everyone’s just excited, very ecstatic.”
When asked what the key was to the win, Hiro shared the following comments: “The race was fantastic. The key moments for us were when we realized that we were chipping away at CARINA’s lead every day. Each watch competed against the other to claw back CARINA’s lead one mile at a time. We also got some lucky breaks with wind along the way.
“Watches began with, ‘Where’s CARINA?‘ or ‘How many miles did we get back during the last watch?’ Our navigator, Mark D’Arcy, was the best and he gave us the best guidance and overview of options available. We could not have done this without him.
“I have to say the UK Sailmakers A3 was one of the best sails ever. We had it up for days on end. It suffered abuse from us and the elements, yet it never faltered. The UK #1 (X-Drive Carbon) was the second most used sail and it performed like a champ as well.
“I never would have believed we would win our class, which has made our win even more rewarding for me and the entire crew.”
Congratulations to Hiro and the whole crew of HIRO MARU from everyone at UK Sailmakers.