Morgan Stanley Managing Director Mike Hennessy knew he was in trouble on the first leg of the Atlantic Cup yacht race when his mom called to heckle him for going the wrong way.
Hennessy, 45, and co-skipper Merf Owen headed the 40-foot (12-meter) yacht Dragon offshore shortly after the start of the 640-mile (1,030-kilometer) leg from Charleston, South Carolina, to New York City. It was a move that left them in last place for much of a day, before they catapulted back to seventh in time for the finish.
“We paid a huge price getting out there -- we were dead last,” Hennessy said in a telephone interview. “My mom was calling to taunt me on the cellphone. It was horrible.”
Hennessy and Owen took 82 hours, 17 minutes, 53 seconds to complete the leg. The leader, Mare, sailed by Jorge Riechers and Ryan Breymaier, finished in 78 hours, 55 minutes, 13 seconds.
Hennessy said the move began to pay off when Dragon caught favorable breezes and moved quickly through the fleet, the largest ever assembled in the U.S. for the Class 40, a boat designed in France in 2005 to make solo and shorthanded ocean racing accessible to amateur sailors.
“We had a less-than-spectacular start and had decided we wanted to get out into the Gulf Stream early,” Hennessy said, referring to the Atlantic Ocean current that runs up the U.S.’s east coast. “Saturday evening we hit the stream and got a huge push that vaulted us from 14 to duking it out for fifth. Ultimately we got pipped into seventh, but coming all the way back in a fleet of this quality, I can’t complain.”
Sprint Leg Next
Hennessy is scheduled to depart New York in three days for the next leg of the race, a sprint to Newport, Rhode Island. He’ll be sailing with Chris Museler, who won nine U.S. sailing championship medals from 1998 to 2009. Museler helped Hennessy put together a team for the regatta’s final leg, an inshore series off Newport concluding May 27.
Meanwhile, Hennessy’s catching up with work.
“I’m going to take the next week off, I figured I’d get some hours in,” he said.