There was something otherworldly and very special about the mighty silver bullet from the moment she arrived in Ireland, berthing quietly in Dun Laoghaire in the countdown to the Volvo Round Ireland Race at Wicklow on June 18th. George David’s Juan K-designed Rambler 88 is just about the most understated colour you could have for a boat. Yet from the moment she appeared, there was no doubting that Rambler 88 was something very special, and the combination of quiet yet undoubted potential with the sheer enthusiasm of her veteran owner made for an irresistible combination.
But the mythology was only starting to build. The actual start, with the mighty Rambler somehow finding her way through a milling fleet of much smaller craft to make a wellnigh perfectly on-time beginning, was to set us all off on the sail of a lifetime. It’s very rarely that a Maxi will figure at the front of a corrected time leaderboard as a race with a fleet of 63 diverse boats moves itself along the course. But it was only for a while far to seaward of the south coast as she sought the freshening wind that Rambler 88 was not leading on corrected time, and of course she was out of sight in terms of mono-hull line honours.
When the freshening wind arrived, it was to give the bulk of the fleet still struggling down to the Fastnet quite a pasting. But Rambler 88 was gone, tearing up the west coast at record speed. Unlike the MOD 70s, she’d only herself to race against, and it says much for the keenness George David engenders in his very international crew that the pace never slackened for a moment, while every tactic was called with successful precision.
This virtue was rewarded with a freeing westerly wind as she entered the Irish Sea on Monday morning, and Rambler 88 was able to lay towards the finish 90 miles away with sheets increasingly eased. She may have missed getting round Ireland in less than two days by a couple of hours. But the fact that we should even have thought of such a crazy possibility only serves to emphasise what an extraordinary performance Rambler 88 logged, with every mono-hull record shattered and the overall win on IRC confirmed in due course. George David’s promised return to Ireland far exceeded anyone’s expectations in terms of leadership inspiration and team achievement, and he is an Afloat.ie International Sailor of the Month for June.