Racing into Sunday


By John Roberson 

What a way to spend a Sunday morning! Some people walk the dog on a Sunday morning, others wash the car, while the crew of CQS sailed through the straits of Messina. We entered the southern end of the straits at sunrise this morning, and had a beautiful fresh breeze all the way, as it funnelled between the mountains of mainland Italy, and those on the Sicilian side.

All the way it was a three way tussle between ourselves, Leopard and Momo, the distances between us expanding and contracting as if the three boats were attached by elastic. Often we were close enough to the shore to see the beautiful waterfront properties.

This race is known for its spectacular scenery, and we are starting to find out why.

It had been a strange night, with the wind dying as the sun set, and we had several hours of doing only two to three knots, close along the eastern shore of Sicily. At one stage we seemed to get our own private breeze, and it looked as if we might take the lead, but then the same windless hole that held Leopard and Rambler in its grip, stretch out and grabbed us as well.

Then in the small hours of the morning a fresh breeze sprang up, and we were blasting along at 11 to 12 knots, and had to take in a reef. The temperature was comfortable all night, and we shook out the reef as we entered the straits.

Now we seem set for another beautiful day, with Stromboli the volcano our next turning mark.


Photo by Andrea Francolini

Photo by Andrea Francolini

Valletta, Malta: 20th October 2017.


Ludde Ingvall’s CQS will sail the Rolex Middle Seas Race without her DSS foils as they continue to develop the system. The skipper commented, “we are now working on our fourth version, using data and knowledge we have gained over the past ten months.”


The CQS design team have found that any foil shape has quite a narrow optimum speed window.


Ludde explained, “a foil that gives its best performance at 10 knots, is not very efficient at 30 knots, so although it will help to lift the boat initially, it then loses its efficiency when the boat accelerates to higher speeds.


“We are trying to design a foil that has a wider window of optimum performance for CQS, and trying to create foils that are sympathetic to our potential speed and the boat’s size.”


Ludde and his team are hoping for light winds during the coming race out of Malta, which will best suit the current configuration of CQS, with her narrow waterline and low wetted surface area.


“The current forecast would seem to indicate light winds at the start,” commented Ludde, “and we will be pushing hard right from the gun to take maximum advantage of these conditions.”

The breeze is expected to increase as the race progresses, so an early advantage could be vital to CQS’s chances of a good result, as the conditions turn in favour of the more powerful boats.


Predictions suggest that there will be a spectacular start in Valletta’s Grand Harbour, with 12 to 15 knots of breeze, but that will die out quite quickly as the fleet heads north towards the Straits of Messina.


The CQS team are keeping a close eye on the weather that is developing later in the race, with winds of 35 knots expected in the closing stages.



Valletta, Malta: 19th October 2017.

Ludde Ingvall will skipper a strong multi-national crew on CQS for the Rolex Middle Seas Race, starting from Valletta, Malta on Saturday, which it the final event on the team’s European tour.

Watch captains are experienced New Zealand sailors Rodney Keenan and Richard Bearda, while the navigator is Kalle Coster from the Netherlands.

Also in the strong Kiwi contingent on board is boat captain Tony Long, and bowman Logan Andressen who is returning to the crew after an injury.

Mainsail trimmers are England’s James Esprey alongside another Kiwi Martyn Baker.

Sweden’s Andreas Axelsson and Rokas Milevicius from Lithuania are amongst four headsail trimmers, the others being Australian David Ward and Kiwi Phil Maxwell.

Ludde commented about his team, “we have a good mix of long term offshore experience, and some very promising up-and-coming talent. Performances in this race will help us make our selection for crew in the RORC Trans-Atlantic race.”

The Rolex Middle Seas Race is one of the classic 600 mile offshore races, alongside the Fastnet, Sydney to Hobart and Newport-Bermuda races.

The races starts in the historic surroundings of Valletta’s Grand Harbour, with the first leg taking the fleet north to the Straits of Messina between Italy and Sicily.

From there the course continues north to round the active volcano Stromboli, before turning west to Favignana off the western tip of Sicily, then south around Pantelleria and Lampedusa, where they turn north again to the finish in Marsamxett Harbour back in Malta.




Ludde Ingvall’s super maxi CQS is to cross the Atlantic Ocean, instead of returning to Sydney for this year’s Rolex Sydney to Hobart Race. A change to shipping schedule meant that the boat could not get back to Australia in time to prepare properly for the race to Hobart.

Ludde and his sponsor Sir Michael Hintze took the difficult decision not to contest the Rolex Sydney to Hobart, and instead enter the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s Trans-Atlantic race from Lanzarote, in the Canary Islands to Grenada’s Port Louis.

Ludde commented, “the up-side of this change of schedule is that we will have the chance to help support the Caribbean communities devastated by the recent hurricane, by entering some of the events on their circuit.”

Sir Michael Hintze added, “It is regrettable that we have had to pull out of the Hobart, but this is also a great opportunity for us to put CQS through her paces in this long distance race over such a well-known route.”

CQS and her crew will do Malta’s Rolex Middle Seas Race, the last event on their European tour, then head to Lanzarote for the dash across the Atlantic, which starts 25 th November.

The Rolex Middle Seas Race starts 21 st October from Malta’s Grand Harbour, and takes the fleet north through the Straights of Messina, around the Stromboli volcano, then west along the north coast of Sicily, before turning south past Pantelleria and rounding at Lampedusa to return
to Malta.

The schedule of events to be undertaken in the Caribbean has not yet been decided, but the CQS team are in contact with a number of regatta organisers with a view to doing those that can accommodate the boat and bring most benefit to the islands.


Image: Photographer John Feder

Image: Photographer John Feder

Ludde Ingvall, Sir Michael Hintze and all the CQS team, ashore and afloat, would like to express our congratulations to John Feder, the photographer from The Australian newspaper, who recently won an award for his photograph of CQS. We also thank him very much for the great work he did, going above and beyond the normal line of duty, to get the photo from the top of the mast.

John, who works for The Australian in Sydney has been honoured at the 2017 Newspaper of the Year Awards for this stunning image, Up the Mast, which took home the top prize in the Sport Photography National/Metropolitan category. The image features New Zealand Olympic Gold Medallist sailor and CQS crew member, Jo Aleh up the mast of CQS on Sydney Harbour, during preparations for last year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.

Describing the background to getting the photo John said, “one of the crew members told me it was time to harness up so I could be winched to the top of the mast. From there I could shoot looking down at Jo Aleh, the CQS racing yacht and Sydney Harbour.

“What they didn't tell me was that I shouldn’t lean forward in the harness. Of course, that is just what I did — and that resulted in the harness riding in my back and me being dragged to the top of the mast basically by my groin by two ropes.

“When Jo finally climbed the mast she could see the terror in my eyes and she shouted down to the crew to lower me on to the spreader bars, so I could get back in my bosun’s chair and take the picture.”

Jo Aleh 'Up the Mast' - Award winning image courtesy of John Feder (The Australian) 

Jo Aleh 'Up the Mast' - Award winning image courtesy of John Feder (The Australian) 

John said it was one of the most terrifying experiences of his career, which includes working in Iraq, Afghanistan and East Timor.

Sir Michael Hintze, founder and chief executive of CQS, commented, “we are delighted that John has been properly recognised for this great photograph and we were thrilled when it featured on the front cover of the newspaper on Boxing Day.”


Ludde Ingvall’s super maxi CQS crossed the finishing line of the Rolex Fastnet Race, in Plymouth at 03:08.25 this morning, second placed monohull on line honours behind the American boat Rambler 88. Their elapsed time for the course was 2 days, 14 hours, 28 minutes and 25 seconds.

On the dockside the skipper said they were lucky to have been able to finish, having suffered damage to one of their foils early in the race. “As we were passing the Needles the top of the canard started to break up,” he admitted, “we have been nursing it all the way around the course.

“I was convinced we wouldn’t get past Portland Bill, but Chris Dickson and the team were determined to keep going, and did a great job of getting us here.”

In the later stages of the race, when they weren’t going to windward, and were not hampered by the damaged foil, the boat achieved good speeds, making very good time from the Lizard Point to the finish.

Sir Michael Hintze, the sponsor, for whom this is only his third ocean race, said the most enjoyable thing for him was seeing the team work and the expertise of the crew. “These guys are the best, their professionalism is impressive and they really work as a great team.”

They managed to hold off serious threats from the 115 foot British boat Nikata, and the very impressive SMA, the French IMOCA 60.

This was Ludde’s eighth Rolex Fastnet Race, having won the race on line honours and handicap in 2001.


The super maxi CQS, skippered by Australian Ludde Ingvall has turned the final corner and is on the home straight in the Rolex Fastnet Race. Still holding onto second place in the monohulls, the team rounded the Bishop Rock, south of the Isles of Scilly just before 20:00 this evening.

Still enjoying a fairly steady 12 to 15 knots of north westerly breeze, CQS was making 11 to 12 knots of boat speed, and hoping to finish in Plymouth at around 03:00 on Wednesday morning.

There is just one more obstacle in their path, that is the tide gate at Lizard Point, the most southerly headland on the English mainland. The team will be punching into adverse tide all the way to this promontory, but the current will turn in their favour soon after midnight.

Watch leader Rodney Keenan reported from on board, “we are getting a few rain squalls coming through, and the wind increases a bit with them, then lightens off in the clear patches.” He also complimented the French team on the IMOCA 60, SMA on sailing a great race.

While the American boat Rambler 88 would appear to have a stranglehold on line honours, though they have slowed dramatically as they approach the finish, CQS’s closes rival for second place across the line, the 115 foot Nikata is some six miles astern.

The request from on board today was to have beer, wine and champagne to be waiting on the dockside when they get in, with burgers and pizzas the favoured option for food.


Ludde Ingvall’s team, competing in the Rolex Fastnet Race on the super maxi CQS, rounded the Fastnet Rock at 06:25 this morning, second on line honours, and turned for the run back to the finish in Plymouth. They reported soon after rounding the famous rock, off the south west coast of Ireland, they were sailing at 14 knots in 15 knots of wind.

The breeze has been fairly consistent all night, and they have maintained their advantage over Nikata, and are looking forward to a fast downwind ride back to the finish.

Speaking from onboard, Kiwi helmsman Chris Dickson commented just before they rounded, “we’ve had a great night on CQS, we’ve got Nikata tucked away safely behind us, we’ve got the Fastnet Rock directly ahead, the sun’s about to come up, and we’re ready to put the spinnaker up and go for home.”

While CQS still trails the American yacht Ramble 88 in the battle for line honours, the conditions for the leg back to Plymouth look much more suitable for Ludde’s high tech boat, and they hope to start reeling in the Americans.

With the breeze forecast to stay in the north for most of the next 24 hours, CQS should be able to fly her massive spinnaker and deploy her foils, at least until they turn east at the Bishop Rock lighthouse.

The team will also have to weave their way through the whole fleet behind them, over 350 boats, still on their way to the rock. Once back in the English Channel there will also be two tide gates to negotiate, at the Lizard Head, and Dodman point.

The current estimated time of arrival in Plymouth is approximately 09:00 on Wednesday morning.


Ludde Ingvall’s Australian super maxi CQS is currently battling for second place on line honours amongst the monohulls, in the Rolex Fastnet Race. Late today Ludde’s team overtook the 115 foot Nikata, but all day the two boats have been sailing as if attached by elastic.

Crew member Michael Rummel commented, “it’s been quite an eventful day. We eventually caught up and passed Nikata, but not before a halyard lock broke, and Alan had to go up the mast and fix it, which slowed us down.

“Earlier in the day we had got frustratingly close to Nikata, but then with our lock problem they got away again. Now we are ahead of them. We also lost a halyard, and the A1 went in the water, but we have retrieved it, and Alan is now up the mast again trying to replace the halyard.”

Also close to CQS and Nikata is the IMOCA 60 SMA, which is sailing a very clever race, while leading the monohulls is Rambler 88.

CQS is now sailing in an 11 to 12 knot north westerly breeze, but they are expecting a wind shift soon, that will allow them to point straight at the Fastnet Rock. The sky has cleared and they are expecting good conditions for the rest of the run to the Rock.

After rounding the famous landmark off the south west coast of Ireland, they will turn for the run back to the finish in Plymouth. The estimated time for CQS to finish is approximately 18:00 on Wednesday.


A fading wind and heavy rain slowed the progress of Ludde Ingvall and his team on CQS in the Rolex Fastnet Race on their first night at sea. The 100 foot super maxi had the benefit of a favourable tide for most of the night, as they sailed west down the English Channel.

At 09:00 BST this morning CQS was approaching Land’s End, the south western most tip of England, and assessing their strategic options for crossing the Celtic Sea to the Fastnet Rock, off the south west coast of Ireland.

As they approached the famous promontory, that marks the end of the English mainland, the breeze dropped to just 4 knots, but they were in a tight race with the 115 foot Nikata, and narrowing the gap with Ramble 88.

The team are expecting to deploy their huge code zero headsail as they round Land’s End, and strike out across the Celtic Sea. They will initially turn north to avoid an exclusion zone, which is designed to keep the fleet out of the busy shipping lanes.

Also in close company with CQS, at this stage of the race is the IMOCA 60 SMA, one of the very high tech boats that are sailed in the Vendee Globe single-handed race around the world.

The breeze is expected to stay light, less than 10 knots, for most of the day, with an increase likely late this afternoon or early evening. These conditions should suit CQS, with her narrow waterline and low wetted surface area.