Cruising with Cookies

Aboard the larger boats in the Finisterre Division, the ride is comfortable, the varnish gleams, and the menus are more refined. By Chris Museler.

“Look at that amazing boat,” Nic Douglass told her media boat driver at Friday’s race start. She had picked out her favorite boat in the spectator fleet. As the sleek racers and cruiser/racers around ultra-plush luxury yachts assembling to watch the spectacle. Varnish was gleaming, sails were perfectly furled.

“Then they showed up on the starting line!”

Endurance Bounty Odette start Newport Bermuda RaceCHI 24 Hallberg Rassy 62 Jordi Griso 942.9 708.7 576.6 490.8 406.6 370.5 350.0 Asym-CLBOUNTY USA 61266 Swan 66 Peter Todd 812.1 615.5 504.7 432.4 360.1 327.1 306.2 Asym-CLODETTE USA 5619 Hylas 56 Jasen Adams 907.1 69

The Hallberg Rassy 62 Endurance starts to leeward of Bounty, a Swan 66, and Odette, a Hylas 56. Daniel Forster/PPL photo

“I call it cruising with cookies,” said Nic, the event media team member capturing the race via social media. “When I see a gorgeous boat in the fleet I think, ‘They must have warm cookies onboard.’”

The Ted Hood 60 Windwalker, currently 8th in class, was one of those boats Nic was pining over. The boat is in one of three classes in the newly titled Finisterre Division, formerly the Cruiser Division. And Class 13 is loaded with that kind of bling and comfort, with a Little Harbor 68 and the striking Alden 63 Verissimo to name just a few.

Temporary storage Alden 63 Verissimo

To protect the fine interiors, crews sometimes add padding or install temporary storage such as shown here aboard the Alden 63 Verissimo. Chris Museler photo

“These boats are not typically thought of as racers,” said Dan Levangie, Windwalker’s owner. “But the handicap system allows us to race. I’m really happy with the group, and there are more new boats each year.”

Levangie finished with his team in the wee hours of this morning. The cabin top and Dorade boxes still have a luster that only comes from 15-plus coats of varnish. The stainless is perpetually polished and the deep, dark shining hull seems to show no signs of an ocean race. But there were no warm cookies aboard.

“We have all the amenities you can imagine,” said Levangie, who bought Windwalker in 2010 and sailed in his first Bermuda Race that year. There’s a watermaker, freezer, refrigerator, air conditioning etc. A self-imposed ban  this year on single use water bottles put the watermaker to the test!”

These amenities are not, alone, spectacular, though nice to have. But the fabulous paneling and yacht joinery that contains these accessories is.

For the race, to defend this beauty against harness clips and gear-clad sailors in boots, all the bright work and cabin sole is covered and the upholstery is removed from the cushions. “Day Two into the race, and it’s a mess just like most boats,” said Levangie.

The division name comes from Carleton Mitchell’s S&S 38-footer Finisterre that surprisingly dominated the race in the late 1950s. Cheekily nicknamed the “Little Fat Bastard,” this year’s Class 13 boats couldn’t be much more different than that little centerboarder.

Cookies aboard Verissimo

Fresh-baked cookies are featured on the bluewater cruiser Verissimo. Chris Museler photo

The name has certainly elevated the division and its classes. Although Levangie, as the chef this time, limited his menu to pre-frozen meals he heated in the oven, we know there was quite a bit of baking and cooking going on.

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