Mission accomplished for Emma Creighton

Offshore Leg 2 - The Atlantic Cup
Ryan O'Grady
American shorthanded skipper Emma Creighton finished fifth in the Atlantic Cup 2012.

Prior to slipping Initiatives’ (GBR 30) dock lines and the start of the Atlantic Cup 2012 (atlanticcup.org), American
shorthanded skipper Emma Creighton (27) set a simple-but-lofty goal: to finish Top Five in the regatta’s final standings. Now, 905 miles of offshore racing and five inshore races later, Creighton and co-skipper Rob Windsor (USA) have accomplished their goal—proud, given the deep list of seasoned European and American sailors who were competing aboard much newer Class 40 raceboats.


More impressive still is the fact that the Atlantic Cup 2012 was Creighton’s debut Class 40 event, as well as her first time partnering with Windsor. 'I’m working hard to prove that shorthanded sailing doesn’t have to be a French game, or a men’s-only game,' said Creighton.

While great sailing skills and Creighton’s diligent pre-race preparations were critical to the team’s success, interestingly, it was Creighton’s singlehanded experience in the 2011 Mini Transat—becoming only the third American female skipper to finish this grueling racecourse—that made the biggest impact.

'My Classe Mini was drawn by the same designer, so I kind of ‘get’ what Initiatives needs,' said Creighton. 'For example, I understood where to stack sails and extra equipment to get the right boat trim. It’s nice to see that my time in the Mini paid off!'

Given the nascent, unsponsored nature of Creighton’s debut Class 40 event, it’s not surprising that the team’s results improved drastically during the three- stage event. The first 645-mile offshore leg, which took the fourteen-strong fleet of Class 40s from Charleston to New York City, saw Initiatives post a tenth-place finish.

'Cape Hatteras presented the first real racecourse challenge,' said Creighton. 'Our forecasts called for breeze inshore, but the boats that stayed outside had better wind… We definitely left some room for improvement!'

The second 240-mile offshore 'sprint' took the fleet from the Big Apple to Newport, Rhode Island and gave Creighton and Windsor another chance to prove their potential. According to Creighton, the team struggled with their sail-handling maneuvers on Leg Two, but compensated with some smart routing decisions that well positioned them coming into Block Island. These good decisions earned Creighton and Windsor a fifth-place finish, catapulting their overall standings.

But it was the final weekend of fully crewed inshore racing on Newport’s Narragansett Bay that saw Creighton and Windsor—joined by crewmembers Gretchen Curtis, Dan Dytch and Skip McCormick (winner of the 2011 TransPac race’s Navigator’s Trophy)—solidify their overall standings.

'Class 40s require some creative thinking to race around short courses,' reported Creighton. 'It’s much harder to sail these boats inshore than offshore!' While the five-strong team had their hands full during the in-port series, Creighton’s hands were especially important to the team’s overall success as she helmed Initiatives for all inshore races. Impressively, the team took a bullet in the first in-port race, followed by second, a fourth, a fifth and a sixth, respectively. 'Every boat was equipped differently, but the racing was still really tight!'

For Creighton, her accomplishment underscores the need for Americans to make their presence felt on the European shorthanded-sailing scene—an effort that she plans to further this summer when she races in the Transat Quebec-St. Malo aboard the Class 40, Sevenstar Yacht Transport (FRA 20) with Jean-Edouard Criquioche (FRA), Anna-Maria Renken (GER) and Samantha Evans (UK).

'I’m happy to sail Class 40s for a few years,' said Creighton. 'The boats are great, the people are great, and the boats have a lot to offer a sponsor.'

Inshore racing in Newport, Ri - The Atlantic Cup

Amazingly, after solid results in the 2011 Mini Transat and great results in the Atlantic Cup 2012, Creighton still doesn’t have corporate sponsorship and relies on donations from the always-generous Richmond Yacht Club Foundation, to whom she is continually grateful.

While Creighton met her goal for the Atlantic Cup 2012, this ambitious young skipper is already eyeing distant horizons. Her ultimate sailing goal is to compete in the non-stop, double-handed around-the-world Barcelona World
Race (barcelonaworldrace.org) aboard an Open 60, but she understands the intermediate steps required to get there.

'It’s all sponsor-dependent,' said Creighton as to her timeframe for this heady, long-term goal. 'I need to get into Class 40s and get established, but the Barcelona World Race is my dream. I’m working hard to make it happen.'

Please visit Creighton’s website (http://emmacreighton.net) or Facebook page (search: Emma's Sailing Exploits) for more information on her upcoming sailing projects, and stay tuned for more news from this talented American sailor.

Close finishes in the inshore racing, Newport, RI - The Atlantic Cup