By volvo20

Saving Farmer Ryan – Monsters ready for action in the Round Ireland Yacht Race 2014


A momentous challenge is taking place on Saturday 28th June with a Sea Start in Wicklow Sailing Club to send Monster Project’s Volvo Open 70 in one of the most technically challenging Offshore Yacht Race.  Stay tuned to see how Wicklow Farmer David Ryan’s ‘Monster Project’, a Volvo Open 70 with amateur crew, faces a stiff challenge from Dragon’s Den Bobby Kerr’s boat ‘Newstalk for Adrenaline’, a Volvo Open 60 with professional sailors.  This is a battle between David and Goliath!

An independent TV documentary is being made following the journey to promote Monster Project and sailing in Ireland, which is due to be aired on RTE and other stations including National Geographic and the Discovery Channel in Autumn.

Filming will include the build up to the race from the gruelling crew selection process and then on to follow the team on the journey of their lives.  Both Farmer Ryan and Dragon Bobby Kerr are setting out to win Round Ireland Line Honours.  To add a fly to the ointment, a supposedly Unsinkable Entrepreneur Enda O’Coineen has also included a Volvo Open 60 with professional Volvo crew onboard.   Perhaps this is a tall order for Farmer Ryan, but the super yacht Monster Project, a Volvo 70, is the Formula-1 of the seas and one of the largest boats ever to enter this prestigious yacht race encompassing the famous Fastnet Lighthouse, the Cliffs of Moher and the Giants Causeway; an environment where the Irish Coastline is the Race Track and with the right weather this team are set to challenge the race record?

As part of the selection process for his amateur crew on Monster Project, Farmer David Ryan ran a nationwide campaign to give an opportunity for young sailors and members of the public to participate in this epic race.  Over sixty applicants from around Ireland travelled to Howth in May for both a rigorous assessment, and after having been put through their paces, three lucky crew were chosen to join the team.

Seven of the crew are experienced and are from Wicklow but David Ryan wanted to include three novice sailors to foster future sailing talent, broaden their experience and give them the thrills and spills of this awesome challenge. So it’s the coffee-fuelled insomniacs versus the welly-wearing amateurs. The new team then embarked on training days that included strategy, ocean fitness, navigation, planning, sea survival and first aid rescue drills.

The Round Ireland Yacht Race is acknowledged within the sailing world as one of the world’s last great adventures and is an untold story of six tidal gates and the ravages of the Atlantic Ocean to contend with.  In other words, this is not for the faint hearted and Farmer Ryan is about to tell this story. With a Cannon Start at 2pm on Saturday 28th June the adventure begins, and Farmer Ryan has four to five days to lead his amateur crew to the finish against professional crews from around the globe through some of the most exciting seas in the world.

There will be a Media Crew Member onboard filming the action as it happens, and Go Pro cameras are mounted to capture every thrilling moment.  Filming for this documentary will cover the perils of the race, as well as the physical and mental stresses and close shaves that each of the sailors will have to go through.

Bearing all that in mind, do remember: Farmer Ryan’s Monsters will have Bobby Kerr’s Dragons for Breakfast!

Monster Project has a RIB available for Media and Journalists to see Monster Project in action.

For further information contact Media Team Monster Project

By Andy Budgen

“Serious Fun” on board Volvo 70 Monster Project at the 34th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta!

On Friday the 7th of March the Volvo 70 Monster Project and her crew, the Project Racing Team, took part in the Around the Island Race and had some “Serious Fun” at this year’s spectacular St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. With over 200 boats competing and a whole host of off-water activities to be enjoyed, the Team saw for themselves why this regatta is such a highlight of the Caribbean racing season.

The Project Racing Team was joined by a group of 8 guests for the day, which arrived just two hours before the start only in time for the briefest of introductions to the Volvo 70’s operation. The group, which comprised mostly local St. Maarten residents, included Title Sponsor Heineken’s very own John Leone who remarked during a post-race interview that he was thrilled to have been on board. It was the first time in 10 years of managing Heineken’s distribution and organising all the regatta parties that John had been able to join in the sailing fun. Camera crew from the On Air Media team were also on board and captured some fantastic footage of the day’s racing in a set of four short highlight clips which can be found on the Heineken Regatta website.

In classic Caribbean conditions, easterly trade winds blew a steady 14-18 knots and the race got off to a magnificent start as a record fleet of 211 boats jostled for position on the start line outside Simpson Bay. Skipper Andy Budgen conceded that he sailed conservatively at the start. “We wanted to keep it simple,” he said. After a one-tack beat to the windward mark, Monster Project‘s crew hoisted their A4 asymmetric spinnaker for the downwind run to the southwest corner of the island. Screaming along the island’s east coast on a close reach in just the conditions she was designed for Monster Project topped 20 knots of boat speed before rounding Point Blanche and making for the finish line in Great Bay. “That was pretty good,” said skipper Andy Budgen, in a moment of classic Scottish understatement.

The competition was hot and Monster Project sailed much of the short 33 nautical mile course in close quarters with RP 52 Highland Fling XII. Crossing the finish line with just minutes between them Monster Project took line honours in 2 hours 57minutes and 13 seconds, a fine achievement just seven minutes short of the course record for monohulls set by another Volvo 70 ABN AMRO 1, in 2007. The Dutch boat skippered by New Zealand’s Mike Sanderson was on a victory tour at the time after winning the 2005-2006 Volvo Ocean Race. “Monster Project was proud to compete in the wake of such a record!” said crew boss John McAulay.

The results on handicap for the CSA 1 had Monster Project fourth in class, with Highland Fling XII taking first place on the podium, followed by Ker 43 Otra Vez and RP 78 Idea of London.

As part of her inaugural Caribbean racing season, Monster Project has clocked up a string of successes. First, Line Honours and a new outright record in the Mount Gay Rum Round Barbados Race in January, then 4th across the line in the RORC Caribbean 600 in February and now the Windward Island Bank’s trophy for the Fastest Monohull Around the Island in St. Maarten’s Heineken Regatta in March.

The team’s trimmer and ex-Olympic sailor Petronella De Jong said, “As a team we are very proud of our achievements so far and excited about the last remaining Caribbean racing events before we set off on Monster Project for her return Transatlantic Adventure home to the UK in May. We are particularly looking forward to Les Voiles de St. Barths and Antigua Sailing Week in April.”

Skipper Andy Budgen added, “We have now officially entered Monster Project in Antigua Sailing Week and in the wake of our recent successes with mixed crews in recent events, we have decided to open up the boat to individual or small group charters to allow more people the chance to experience Volvo 70 sailing in the warm tropical waters of the Caribbean!”

For a taste of the fun and excitement of racing on board Monster Project, check out the great video clip – HR 2014 Round the Island Part 2 on YouTube or on the event website.

By Andy Budgen

Volvo 70 Monster Project joins the fleet for Antigua Sailing Week

Volvo Open 70 racing charter yacht Monster Project has today lodged her entry for Antigua Sailing Week 2014. Skipper Andy Budgen (British Olympic Sailing Team 1997-2000, Moth World Championships 2011-2012) and his professional race crew, the Project Racing Team, will be aiming to cap off a very successful first Caribbean season for Monster Project, which has seen her take Line Honours and set a new outright record in the Mount Gay Rum Round Barbados Race, 4th across the line in the RORC Caribbean 600 and win the trophy for Fastest Monohull Round the Island during the recent Sint Maarten Heineken Regatta.

“We’ve really enjoyed all of the Caribbean racing and always planned to finish the season in style at Antigua Sailing Week. After our successful racing with mixed groups at the RORC Caribbean 600 and the Sint Maarten Heineken Regatta, we decided that rather than limiting ourselves to a whole boat charter for Antigua Sailing Week, we will open the boat up to individuals and small groups as well,” said Budgen.

“Antigua Sailing Week is one of the biggest yacht racing events of the Caribbean season and includes five days of exciting short-course racing around the buoys, as well as a Yachting World Round Antigua Race the day before the regatta officially begins. We’re really looking forward to returning to Antigua for some more racing, especially against the likes of ICAP Leopard and Tonnerre,” said Crew Boss John McAulay.

“The short courses close to shore offer not just a challenging and exciting day out on the water for everyone on board, but also the opportunity to admire Antigua’s many beautiful beaches and historic sites as we sail past – although sometimes we’re going so quickly that you don’t get much time to look!,” added Cook/Deckhand Pippa Kirchmann.

Monster Project’s program for Antigua Sailing Week is:

  • Training: 24 and 25 April
  • Yachting World Round Antigua Race: 26 April
  • Short-course racing: 27, 28, 29 April and 1, 2 May
  • Prize-giving ceremony: 2 May

Monster Project is offering an 8 day sailing package for Antigua Sailing Week that includes Racing Skipper Andy Budgen, Professional Race Crew, event entry fees, fuel, mooring fees, food and bottled water on board during sailing, loan of safety equipment and loan of wet weather gear if needed. Guests will need to arrange their own visas (if required), accommodation onshore and appropriate travel insurance that covers offshore yacht racing.

How can people join in the fun on Monster Project? “We’ll need to finalise numbers within the next few weeks, so if people would like to join us on Monster Project for Antigua Sailing Week, they should get in touch as soon as possible,” said Budgen.

For more information on chartering Monster Project for Antigua Sailing Week go to

Phone: +44 7866 589 824

By volvo20

Monster Project makes her mark at RORC Caribbean 600

Volvo 70 charter boat Monster Project has backed up her record-breaking Mount Gay Round Barbados Race victory with a very respectable fourth place in her first RORC Caribbean 600, finishing in 2 days 5 hours 29:35 behind professional race boats JV 72 Bella Mente, Reichel Pugh 90 Rambler and Reichel Pugh 72 Shockwave.

Monster Project‘s team of 15 – eight charter guests and seven full-time crew – had only four days of pre-race training prior to the race – not a lot of time for the eight amateur sailors to familiarise themselves with the boat’s many systems including halyard and reefing locks, barber-hauler style jib cars, huge winches, six-speed grinding pedestals and canting keel. But familiarise themselves they did and the combined crew of 15 neatly executed multiple tacks up to and across the start line outside Falmouth Harbour on Monday morning. Monster Project crossed close in front of Swan 82 Alpina before passing other competitors including Volvo 60 Spirit of Adventure, Reichel Pugh 78 Idea of London and Botin 65 Caro.

Skipper and former British Olympic Sailing Team member Andy Budgen and Watch Leader John McAulay ably led the boat through the 17 legs of the 600 mile course, assisted by guest Navigator Guy Middleton.

Bowmen Tom Robinson and Jon Norris deftly executed no less than 12 sail changes as Monster Project beat, reached and ran her way around the 11 islands of the course.

“With so many different legs and the predicted windshifts around the islands, it was important to pre-empt the manoeuvres so that we could peel smoothly between the spinnakers, Code 3 and headsails,” said Robinson.

Monster Project‘s crew of 15 had a relatively high proportion of women, with three female full-time crew and three female guests forming an integral part of the team. Pit/primaries supervisor Alison Merridew had three trips up the rig during the race, including to scan for breeze as Monster Project neared the infamously patchy wind zones of Guadeloupe.

“The view from the top of the rig was breathtaking, looking down on a full masthead kite then across the dark blue water sparkling with sunlight all the way to the horizon, interrupted only by the sight of the spinnakers of other boats dotted a long way behind us,” said Merridew.

Helm/trimmer and former Olympian Petronella de Jong (Athens 2004) trimmed and tweaked the headsails and spinnakers for the maximum possible speed.

“It’s a great experience to be a member of the Monster team, using the big winches and helming on the long offshore legs where 20 knots feels slow! It’s quite different from sailing an Olympic class Yngling up and down a short course where you get to sleep in a normal bed every night. But on both boats the sail trim is similar and I’m glad to be able to play my part to make Monster Project sail fast,” commented de Jong.

Cook/deckhand Pippa Kirchmann had her work cut out for her, with 15 hungry sailors to feed from the boat’s spartan galley facilities, as well as taking her place on deck for tacks, gybes, reefing and sail changes throughout the race.

“It’s quite a novel experience to be boiling water and trying to mix up freeze-dried meals while the galley, which is a long way forward in the boat, is literally getting airborne over the waves!” said Kirchmann, who comes from a superyacht background and for whom the RORC Caribbean 600 was her first offshore race. “I particularly enjoyed the camaraderie and teamwork, keeping each other going when we were called out of bed for the third time during our off-watch and the silly things you laugh about on board.”

The female guests also well and truly pulled their weight, with Dr Alene Krimholtz and Mrs Jane Saqui spending many watches on the grinders and Ms Sarah Westbarn assisting on the bow in between grinding and mainsheet trim. As another guest, Mr Jacek Siwek, said of the women’s efforts after the race, “The men just tried to keep up with them!”

Siwek shared the mainsheet trim with Westbarn and another guest, Richard Evans. Guests Niels Groothuizen and Mike Saqui did well to learn the various pit procedures and coordinate with the bow crew over the 2 days.

Monster Project fared well over the many downwind and reaching legs, sailing at or above the windspeed in the very conditions she was designed for. On the helm, Robinson achieved a boatspeed of 24.2 knots in just 17 knots of breeze and Skipper Andy Budgen took the boat to its top speed for the race of 27.5 knots while flying the fractional (A6) spinnaker.

Making good time around Guadeloupe, where many other boats in the fleet stalled in light airs, then tracking comfortably around St Barth’s and her home base of Sint Maarten, Monster Project and her crew rounded the spectularly rugged islet, Rodonda, early on Wednesday morning. The cool misty conditions led several on board to ask the Navigator whether he had accidentally taken the boat to Scotland! There was no doubt about the location later in the day, however, when Monster Project‘s race ended with a sparkling sunlit beat up to the finish line on Wednesday afternoon, just in time for ice-cold Corona sundowners hand-delivered by the indefatigable RORC welcoming committee volunteers.

“Hats off to Bella Mente, Rambler and Shockwave, who all finished within 15 minutes of each other. Their crews include professional racers from the Volvo Ocean Race and America’s Cup campaigns and our team were really proud to finish only a few hours behind them,” said Budgen.

As the sun sets on this year’s RORC Caribbean 600, Budgen is already looking forward to next year’s event. “The 600 is a very tactical race and very weather-dependent. We learned a few things this year and will be back to challenge again in 2015”.

Next on the program for Monster Project and her crew is this week’s Heineken Sint Maarten Regatta. Monster Project will be racing around the island on Friday, seeking to continue her Caribbean successes. Look out for her dark blue hull and bright yellow decks as she sails past!