It was 48 days from the time the first Nordhavn pulled out of its slip in Fort Lauderdale to the grand finale dinner on July 5 that commemorated the historic Nordhavn Atlantic Rally. In breathtaking St. Michael’s Cave in Gibraltar, 109 people – boat crews, PAE staff, friends, family members, and distinguished guests – all gathered to celebrate what was an amazing journey. And the entire gallery stood and cheered when Jim Leishman took to the podium to offer his final thoughts on the Rally:
“The Rally was conceived late in the evening – actually while soaking in my Jacuzzi and thinking about the success of the ATW which had completed just months before… That trip had been the time of my life and had proven a great success for Nordhavn. Thinking about what we might do next, it suddenly occurred to me: a transatlantic rally with Nordhavn providing en route support. It was perfect! It could be completed in a fraction of the time of the ATW and would have great appeal to both the participants and the media. I dreamt about the concept nearly that entire night and now almost two years later, our rally is ending. It’s amazing how fast the time has gone….
“Today down on the docks our crew has been consolidating the tens of thousands of dollars of engine parts, stabilizer components, pumps, blowers, heart defibrillators, medical supplies and drugs, office equipment, diving gear and tools - all to be taken aboard Atlantic Escort on her voyage up to England, then to be shipped home to California.The international airfares, salaries, expense reports, hotel bills, car rentals and charges of every description are all rolling in – the party is ending –
however, I can honestly say that even in my most optimistic vision of how the rally might have gone. I never would have believed that we could have enjoyed such a technically perfect voyage and that the participants and support crews would have enjoyed it so much.
“I spoke with [PAE President] Dan Streech early this week and he described the tearful, overwhelming emotion he felt upon hearing that the fleet was safely tied up in Gibraltar. He reminded me that despite the cost - the resounding success of this rally and the good will generated more than justifies the expense.
“The media has embraced the Atlantic Rally - our unique and capable vessels - and you the owners and crew. The magazines that have supported our Rally took a chance that this adventure would have a good outcome; the publishers, editors and journalists are fascinated by what we’ve just accomplished, proud to be involved and will be writing about all this in a positive way - for months and years to come.
“I keep thinking about the fact that our departures and arrivals were on a schedule that Fed Ex would have been proud of. The vessels in the fleet performed beautifully with only minor problems.
“Our three escort boats were prepared for a wide variety of mechanical and medical emergencies. Our services were tested and challenged and their capability proven but fortunately our escort presence provided mechanical repairs and medical care that were of a minor nature. Our entire fleet would have made the trip without outside assistance. There’s no question that each and every one of you crossed the North Atlantic on your own!
“This has been a phenomenal experience for me, another experience of a lifetime.
“I, along with the PAE support team and our crew at home, have learned more about our boats and the people who buy and cruise them in the past two months than we could hope to learn in the next five years. The experience has been invaluable to us as boat designers and builders.
“We have made history this summer. We’ve accomplished the first ever transatlantic powerboat rally. Eighteen boats started in Ft. Lauderdale and eighteen finished in Gibraltar on the time and date that was established almost a year ago.
“Robert Beebe [author of Voyaging Under Power] stated that the best voyage possible is one where - at its conclusion - there is essentially nothing remarkable to report. While I knew this type of voyage might not help Bruce and Joan Kessler sell our film, it certainly is what I hoped for and exactly what we got.
“Strong friendships have developed and the support, expertise and generosity shared amongst the participants has been exceptional. We anticipate that these relationships will provide great benefit in the months to come as you continue your cruising into the Mediterranean. I want you to know that you can count on PAE to provide continued support for you during your time in Europe with parts, technical support and even PAE staff coming to help if necessary.
“The success of the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally will result in new powerboat rallies in the years to come. There’s nothing I’d like better than to spend another summer with you all and you can rest assured that I’ll be thinking about that in the months to come.
“Thank you all for your competence, your support and the very best of luck to you.”