Speed record boosts Maine yacht firm’s reputation


Hodgdon Yachts photo

In the 200 years since its founding in 1816, Hodgdon Yachts of East Boothbay has evolved repeatedly to add new kinds of vessels to its boatbuilding expertise.

With a record set last week, ‘speed’ has moved toward the top of the list of what the family-owned company’s boats are known for.

Not that it has happened overnight. Before the 100-foot monohull sailing yacht Comanche set a record of 5 days, 14 hours and 21 minutes in crossing the Atlantic from New York to England, the carbon-fiber racing superyacht won the prestigious Sydney-to-Hobart race at the end of 2015 — despite having suffered significant damage during the competition.

A year ago, in another transatlantic race from Newport, R.I. to Plymouth, it set a 24-hour distance record for a monohull sailing yacht of 620 nautical miles, averaging a speed of 25.75 knots, or just shy of 30 mph, over that same timeframe. And just earlier this summer, it set another course record in the Newport Bermuda Race, cutting five hours off the previous best time.

Hodgdon Yachts has built fast boats before. The 98-foot Windcrest, which was launched in 2006, is a more traditional style of luxury sailing yacht and yet placed third out of 47 similar vessels who took part in the 2012 St. Barth’s Bucket, an annual race in the Caribbean.

Comanche, owned by billionaire Netscape founder Jim Clark and his wife Kristy Hinze-Clark, was launched in East Boothbay in 2014 with one purpose in mind (well, two really): competing in races and setting speed records.

In a statement released last week, Hodgdon Yachts President Timothy Hodgdon said it is an “amazing accomplishment” to break the transatlantic speed record for a monohull vessel.

“Since being launched from Hodgdon Yachts in East Boothbay, Maine, USA at the end of 2014, Comanche has been such a success thanks largely to her talented sailors, passionate owners, and of course a tremendous design by Guillaume Verdier/VPLP Design and build by Hodgdon Yachts in collaboration with the owner’s build team,” he said in the statement.

At its founding in the early 19th century, Hodgdon Yachts built commercial schooners. In addition to its recent reputation for speed, the firm since has become known as one of the finest luxury yacht builders in the world, with sailing superyachts such as Asolare (formerly known as Scheherazade) and Antonisa in its portfolio, as well as luxury motor yachts. The company also has branched into military vessels, having built wooden-hulled Navy patrol boats from Word War I through the Korean War and, more recently, carbon-Kevlar composite-hulled boats for the Navy SEALs.

But enough about the company’s history. Let’s watch some videos of Comanche in action. The first one posted here shows what it is like to be on deck as the boat cruises at top speed.


Bill Trotter

About Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors. He writes about fisheries, marine-related topics, eastern coastal Maine communities and more for the BDN. He lives in Ellsworth. Follow him on Twitter at @billtrotter.