Team Argo Conquers Mount Gay Rum Around Jamestown Record

Foiling cat breaks the 1-hour barrier for a lap of Conanicut Island

 By Chad Corning aboard Argo

Team Argo Jamestown, RIEarlier this summer, the GC 32 foiling catamaran appeared on Team Argo’s radar. Designers Laurent Lenne and Andrew MacPherson conceived the GC as an accessible and stable foiling cat that would be raced one-design. Development of the concept involved a first generation C-foil that led to the full foil package that came online earlier this year. Since then the class has grown, and expects to have 8-10 boats participating in the European circuit next year. Four GC 32s are expected at Quantum Key West Race Week in January.


Team Argo recorded a top speed of 37.1 knots during their record run.  © Jim Condon

Our connection with the boat started with a two-day test sail in La Baule, France. Cool, rainy and windy, it proved to be a test at the upper limits of the 32-foot boat’s operating range. We knew this was a different breed of cat when helmets, spare air, knives and impact vests were handed out prior to sailing. All seemed normal as we low-rode upwind but when it came time to turn the corner Andrew smiled and said, “Hang on, boys.” Good advice. From low riding mode at around 18 knots, we immediately popped on the foils and hit 30 knots. The feeling of riding high on the foils at these speeds took some getting used to but proved very addictive! By the end of the second day Team Argo had emphatically said, “Yes, please!” and agreed to take delivery of the first boat shipped to the U.S. 

With our team being based in Newport, RI, it seemed natural to make an attempt to break the Mount Gay Rum Around Jamestown Record* our first goal. We had to jump through some hoops to get all the boat components from around the globe in place in time and this left just a three-day window of sailing to beat the very fast 01:03:38 mark set by Michael Dominguez’s Marstrom 32 catamaran Bronco earlier in the summer. 

After carefully testing the boat, we finally brought it up to full speed on Friday, October 24. Conditions were fairly light for the first two days of sailing, but we had a solid learning curve and were more and more confident in boat handling and how to mode the boat. With the apparent wind almost constantly changing, sailing the GC 32 involves constant movement of the sheets and traveler as well as adjusting the angle of attack on the main foil. The level of fitness and mental clarity this boat requires was an eye opener – a very demanding yacht!

team argp.jpgSunday, October 26 proved to be the day. Westerly winds of 25 knots would give us reaching on each long leg of the course and the water would be mostly flat with the exception of the section around Beavertail (the south end of Conanicut Island). In the warm up prior to starting the attempt, it became clear how much of a challenge the boat is to sail in heavy air. Even with a reefed mainsail the boat was overpowered and a total handful. 

The new holders of the Mount Gay Rum Around Jamestown Record are (clockwise from left) Mike Kuschner, Mike Barnes, Mischa Heemskerk, Jason Carroll, Cameron Appleton and Chad Corning. © Julianna Barbieri/manukasem.com

We started the attempt around 11 am, blazing across the start line fully on the foils. The leg up to Beavertail was a combination of foiling and low riding as the angle was close to upwind. Speeds were around 16-18 knots. After a tack over to port, we enjoyed fast reaching hard on the Jamestown shore. The boat was in her element, going 30-35 knots, sometimes on the edge of control. We had to take a brief three-minute break towards the north end of the island to repair a broken rudder control line. This was quickly done and we were into a jibe to head south to the finish off Fort Adams. 

This was the coolest leg of the course, as the water was board flat and big puffs were releasing off the Jamestown shore. We recorded our top speed of the record attempt at 37.1 knots in a big blast as we neared the Newport Bridge.  Unfortunately we snagged a lobster pot at the same time, which triggered a rather unpleasant chain reaction of a violent nose-dive coupled with shearing the horizontal element of the port foil. Basically, when the attitude of the boat went nose down, the horizontal element of the foil became vertical and the loads were just too much. With only two miles to go at this point, we limped to the finish with the stub of the port board. Team Argo stopped the clock at 58 minutes, 31 seconds, which stands as the first sub 1-hour lap of the island.  Though we probably left seven minutes on the course with the rudder and foil issues, we are still extremely pleased. Almost as satisfying as the result is the prize – the skipper’s weight in Mount Gay Rum.**

Onboard for the attempt were skipper Jason Carroll with Cameron Appleton as strategist and mainsheet, Misha Heemskerk on traveler and calling foil angle, Michael Barnes on board controls, Chad Corning on forward trim and Mike Kuschner on bow.

Editor’s notes:

Mount Gay Rum* The Mount Gay Rum Around Jamestown Record, organized by Manuka Sports Event Management and presented by Mount Gay Rum in association with Café Zelda and IYAC, is a perpetual all-out record for sailing around Conanicut Island (also known as Jamestown) in lower Narragansett Bay.

Hilary Kotoun of Sailors for the Sea accepted the prize for Team Argo, who were competing in the Melges 32 Gold cup in Miami, FL. © Julianna Barbieri/manukasem.com

 Contenders decide when to make a record attempt and also the direction in which they sail around Jamestown to take advantage of weather conditions and tidal flow. Records are recognized in four categories. The current record holders are:

Absolute Record

Argo, GC 32 foiling catamaran

Skipper: Jason Carroll

Date: October 26, 2014

Elapsed Time: 00:58:31

Outright Multihull Record

Argo, GC 32 foiling catamaran

Skipper: Jason Carroll

Date: October 26, 2014

Elapsed Time: 00:58:31

Outright Keelboat Record

Bella Mente, J/V 72 Mini Maxi

Skipper: Hap Fauth

Date: June 12, 2014

Elapsed Time: 01:19:35

All Sailing Craft Under 32’

Cash & Burn, foiling kiteboard

Skipper: Zach Marks

Date: July 5, 2014

Elapsed Time: 01:03:08

The prize for posting the fastest elapsed time in each Around Jamestown Record Challenge season (May 26 to October 31 in 2014) is Mount Gay Rum equal to the skipper’s weight. A portion of the $100 fee for each record attempt supports the community sailing programs at Sail Newport. Foiling craft currently rule this event, but whether a cat or a board – or perhaps something else – will be the first to crack the 50-minute barrier for a lap of Jamestown is anyone’s guess. For more information, visit AroundJamestownRecord.com. 

** At the end-of-season Awards Party at IYAC in Newport on November 8, Team Argo was awarded Mount Gay Rum equal to skipper Jason Carroll’s weight. Shortly after the record run, Carroll was asked what he would do with that much rum. He replied, “Elvis [Carroll’s Gunboat 62] has a seven-gallon rum tank, so we’ll fill that right up.”

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