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There are hard ways to move a raceboat around and (relatively) easier ways...

'Time and tide wait for no man’, so the saying goes, and when it comes to precious time spent campaigning racing yachts then you do what’s necessary to run everything as efficiently as possible. That’s one of the reasons why a growing number of raceboat owners and their skippers are calling on Sevenstar Yacht Transport to run their logistics for them.

Main picture: Sevenstar enjoy the benefit of having access to a wide choice of long-range vessels to suit the boat that is to be transported, be it a more conventional lift-on/lift-off ship like this or one of the fleet of semisubmersible transport ships shared with Florida based sister operation Dockwise Yacht Transport. Wherever it is practical, the semi-submersible option is the preferred choice for larger sailing yachts where detaching a substantial backstay, even briefly, brings with it insurance considerations as well as the major logistics

The head of Racing Yacht Logistics at Sevenstar, former top navigator Wouter Verbraak, knows the grand prix racing scene well. ‘At Sevenstar we like to say we make the world smaller,’ explains the Dutchman. ‘By which we mean we help to deliver racing yachts from one place to the next more quickly and with the least hassle.’

Verbraak says there is no job too tough for the company. ‘One of the advantages for us is that we have direct access to the specialist vessels owned by our parent company, the Spliethoff Group,’ he explains. ‘We don’t have to negotiate terms for a charter, so this speeds things up and makes discussions a lot more straightforward.’

Sometimes, when there is important work to be done on the yacht between regattas, the only opportunity to do it is while the yacht is being transported. For example, the Maxi72 calendar is intense and the boats undergo regular switches from offshore to inshore mode, or are re-moded for rating or venue purposes. Requests for shore crew to travel with the yacht are not uncommon.

‘We’ve done this with Farfalla and also with Proteus, when a lot of the deck non-slip needed replacing,’ explains Verbraak. ‘It’s a big job but the work was completed by the time the boat was offloaded at the next event. Owning our own vessels within the same group makes these discussions between the boat captain and the ship’s captain much easier.’

In the case of the Maxi72s, the fast turnaround offered by Sevenstar meant the fleet could squeeze an extra regatta into the summer schedule. ‘Last year the owner of Proteus kindly invited all the teams to come and race in his home waters in Greece. Time was tight but, because we work closely with the boat captains already, we knew how they operate and what they required for fast and safe transit of their precious cargo. That inside knowledge of the industry enables us to deliver a good service with shorter lead times.’

The Dutch company is also picking up a growing amount of business from smaller classes like the Etchells, while at the other end of the scale the J Class yachts continue to take advantage of DYT’s submersible vessels (DYT is also a part of the Spliethoff Group which owns Sevenstar). ‘We have shipped Shamrock and Svea several times, and now we’re looking at the possibility of providing shipping for the whole J Class fleet from Auckland back to the Med after their regatta ahead of the next America’s Cup. The advantage of the DYT is there is no hoisting or craning required.

‘With the J Class the challenge is the inline spreader rigs, so you cannot easily detach the backstay which you need to do for a crane operation. DYT is really the best option for any yacht over 120 tons where you would otherwise need to use two cranes to lift on and off |the vessel.’ S

evenstar is looking forward to working with the America’s Cup teams again for Auckland 2021, just as it did with Land Rover BAR and Groupama Team France in Bermuda. ‘Moving 75ft foiling monohulls around will be a different proposition from the last Cup, but we’re looking forward to it,’ says Verbraak. But of more immediate concern is providing support and assistance to the hurricane-ravaged islands of the Caribbean.

‘We work closely with events like the RORC Caribbean 600 and we have built a lot of special relationships with the islanders over the years so we’ve been heavily involved in the shipping of supplies such as medicines and generators. It’s not part of our usual line of work, but we owe it to both the islanders and the sport to help out in any way we can.’

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