Sailor gives up circumnavigation dream

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The race committee required changes to Tim Troy’s Open 60 that he says he wouldn’t have time to make

The race committee required changes to Tim Troy’s Open 60 that he says he wouldn’t have time to make

Tim Troy, the Crownsville, Md., solo sailor fighting to make the starting line of the Velux 5 Oceans race around the world, officially withdrew his entry Nov. 9 — more than two weeks after the start — as the rest of the fleet had departed Bilbao, Spain, bound for the Southern Ocean.

For more than two years Troy worked toward taking part in the single-handed circumnavigation yacht race (formerly known as the BOC and Around Alone). Plagued by problems and setbacks from the outset, Troy finally gave in when his Open 60 yacht, Margaret Anna (formerly named Petit Navire) failed to meet race standards.

“I am both emotionally and financially exhausted,” he says. “You cannot imagine the disappointment I am feeling after working so long and so hard at becoming a member of the elite group of people who have sailed around the world alone.”

With one week to go before the start, Troy says he was told the boat “did not conform,” and that he would need to make some changes to get the boat to the correct Angle of Vanishing Stability.

Troy says the modifications were possible, and he proceeded with the expectation that he would start the race about a week late.

“With three days before the start, I was informed by IMOCA [International Monohull Class Association] that I needed to do the rollover test as well,” Troy says. “It was impossible for me to do this with the short amount of time and the limited amount of funds available. I could not just add lead to the keel, and then go out into the Southern Oceans without proper testing. And to do a 180 [degree] test would just completely destroy the boat.”

Troy thanked the people who helped him in his attempt, adding, “It only makes it harder, as I feel as though I have let so many people down. I can only say that when I come back, and I will, I will take all of the lessons I have learned, and all of the support I have gotten, and work even harder than ever to get this job done.”

Troy, 48, says he has dreamed of sailing around the world since he was a young man.

To finance the project Troy took out a double mortgage on his family home and worked evenings and weekends on his yacht, which he named after his daughters. He was even boosted by a last-minute sponsorship deal with Solveras Payment Systems.

Margaret Anna failed the AVS test by just 3 degrees.

Troy then contacted the boat’s French designer, Bernard Nivelt, to determine the best way to solve the problem. Nivelt suggested 660 pounds of lead be added to the keel around the foil (the aerofoil profile metal strut connecting the lead keel bulb to the hull). Normally extra lead, if it must be added, is put onto the keel bulb, but Nivelt believed that adding it to the foil would relieve some of the added loads at the crucial spot where the keel enters the hull. Troy, unable to make the essential changes in Bilbao, took Margaret Anna to La Rochelle, France.

Unfortunately, after many tests, Troy made the difficult decision not to make the changes necessary to try to pass the IMOCA stability test. He says he had no assurances that even after all the work that the boat would pass the test and receive certification. The necessary work also meant that he could not start before Nov. 15.

Race director David Adams says organizers were disappointed Troy had to retire, but stressed that safety is a continuing priority.

“Tim has been a fantastic competitor and a real character,” Adams says. “Everyone rallied round Tim after he failed the stability test and we have done everything we possibly can to try to resolve this situation.”

Margaret Anna will remain in La Rochelle while Troy spends time with his family back in Maryland. The race visits Norfolk, Va., in March and April 2007. www.velux5oceans.com