Skip to content

Branson to Tackle Transatlantic Record

The Juan K 98 Speedboat in her new Virgin Money livery and ready to take on the Transatlantic record for boats with powered sailing systems.

Virgin Money
©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Taking one’s kids on ocean races is becoming quite popular these days. Not to be outdone by the likes of Paul Cayard — who took his two kids on this year’s Pacific Cup — Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson will be taking his two 20-something kids, Holly and Sam, on a Transatlantic record attempt pending a suitable weather window. His choice of ride is Alex Jackson’s Juan K-designed 98-ft Speedboat, renamed Virgin Money for this attempt and staffed with a large contingent from the ostensible British America’s Cup challenger Team Origin.

Sir Richard Branson is known to be a very down-to-earth guy, despite his wealth and knightly status. At the Highland Springs HIHO international windsurfing regatta a couple years ago in the British Virgins, Branson mixed with the crowd nonchalantly, and seemed to genuinely enjoy being treated as a ‘regular guy’. Ultimately, though, he could not escape his celebrity, as Mill Valley sailor Heather Funkhouser sheepishly asked to have her picture taken with the dashing entrepreneur. As the gorgeous UCLA coed took a seat on his knee, Branson grinned broadly and said, “Oh, this is tough duty!”

© 2008 Maricel Ricardy

Although all the typical PR that’s been going around says that Branson will be vying for the monohull record from New York’s Ambrose Light to The Lizard, Cornwall, UK, that’s not exactly true. Because Virgin Money has powered winches, any record the boat sets will be in the ‘Powered Sailing Systems Records’ category as sanctioned by the World Sailing Speed Record Council.

So instead of competing against Robert Miller’s 140-ft Mari-Cha IV, which set the outright monohull record of 6 days, 17 hours and 31 minutes in October of 2003, Virgin Money will be racing for the record set by Mike Slade’s ICAP Leopard — which boat captain Chris Sherlock and a relatively small crew sailed to a 7-day, 19-hour and 20-minute crossing in May of this year while in the midst of delivering ICAP Leopard back to Europe from the Caribbean.

Leave a Comment

Rari is bow-heavy courtesy of several thousand pounds of blubber. © 2008 Rich Boren "In the last two weeks, sea lions have sunk two boats moored in Port San Luis and now they’ve moved on to their next victim," reports Rich Boren on the Pearson 365 Third Day.
Earlier this week Somali pirates seized a cruising yacht in the notorious Gulf of Aden with two French nationals aboard, bringing the number of hijacked vessels in that area to at least 30 since the beginning of the year.