Lloyd Thornburg is the charismatic owner and co-skipper of the magnificent Phaedo3, a boat that has captured the imagination of many admiring sailors.
After an exciting year of getting their MOD 70 programme up and running, Team Phaedo have really focused on maximising the boat’s performance, most recently at the Rolex Fastnet Race 2015.
We caught up with him at the Fastnet finale to discuss the challenges and merits of racing a world-class boat.
“I think it is one of my favourite offshore events,” declared Thornburg, shortly after finishing the Rolex Fastnet Race 2015. He puts this down to it being one of the hardest races he has faced yet, thanks to the tactical nature of his class and challenging light air conditions.
“Due to the closeness of the one design racing, we have never worked harder on the boat or been more focused,” he explained. “With these boats, the slightest mistake can see you lose miles to your competition.”
Thornburg emphasised that, while the boat was a sailing machine, it required ‘total respect and attention’:
“(Phaedo3) is very physical and very scary. That being said, it is also perhaps the most exhilarating, rewarding and fun boat to sail that I know of.”
While mistakes are costly, small gains through extra wind or improved trim can see the boat speed improve by 5 to 10 knots almost instantly. It’s this exciting, competitive nature of Phaedo3 that leads Thornburg to declare his boat as ‘pretty close to boating Nirvana.’
Thornburg also attributes his string of successes to having a crew that really enjoys sailing together.
“We are having fun 95% of the time, which I think is pretty rare.”
Don’t be fooled by all the smiles though. This crew takes competition very seriously, particularly when it comes to diet, training and kit. Thornburg admits that during the Transatlantic Race he was eating about 5,000 calories a day to maintain peak performance. But for him, the most important thing is staying dry, warm and able to move around the boat.
“Our partnership with Musto has been essential to our success,” he explains. “From our lightweight spray tops that we wore for most of the Fastnet to the HPX Drysuits that saved the day during the very wet and cold Transatlantic Race.”
Thornburg asserts that if you are comfortable then you are more likely to focus on sailing, rather than trying to stay warm. “It’s pretty special when you realise that you can be comfortable on deck in just about any sea state, wind condition or temperature.”
As for his favourite bit of Musto kit, it has to be the LPX Dynamic Stretch Smock. During their recent races, he found it to be very waterproof for light through to moderately heavy conditions and super flexible. “It’s so easy to move around in,” he relayed, “whether grinding, driving or dragging sails around.”
So what’s next for the boys in green? A couple of days’ recovery post-Fastnet then back to the water:
“We’re off to Malta to battle Oman Sail in the Middle Sea Race. I am really excited as I hear it is a very beautiful course and an extremely challenging race. Hopefully we can take the lessons learnt from Fastnet and improve from there.”
Good luck Team Phaedo, we wish you every success in your next adventure.
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