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Atlantic Cup: High pressure system slows fleet

Published on May 12th, 2014

(May 12, 2014) – The three lead boats were tied to one another as the fleet passed Cape Hatteras today and began the second half of this first leg of the 2014 Atlantic Cup presented by 11th Hour Racing.

Pleiad Racing holds a narrow lead over Dragon and Gryphon Solo II with all three boats within three miles of one another. Trailing is fourth place, which has been slowed by a blown out spinnaker and autopilot problems.

This morning saw the teams awake to a high pressure moving to the South and East of them, providing for some light southerly breeze.

“I haven’t been stuck in a flat calm like this for some time,” reports Joe Harris on Gryphon Solo II. “Just glassy seas and cloudless skies as far as the eye can see. There seems to be some wind up at the masthead but no wind down here on deck.

“We were becalmed much of last night but we were still making progress as we were in the Gulf Stream current that was dragging us in generally the right direction. The dolphins and sharks are surfacing around us… probably also wondering why we are just hanging around, but we are out of that now and have no other helper.

“The GRIB weather files certainly indicated a high pressure center in our path, but does show more wind than we’ve got – which is zero.

“Pat has been hand steering for some time to try to keep the boat going and because the auto-pilot goes a bit crazy in these conditions and tries desperately to keep the boat on course as it wanders around, causing a lot of power to be consumed and the ‘off-course’ alarm to go off constantly.

“So today is one of those days at sea that requires patience and perseverance to not go nuts with frustration. We just have to keep the bow pointed in the right direction and hope for the best.

“It is just so ironic that the wind has just shut off after such a windy and fast first half of the race from Charleston to Hatteras. We were making plans for our early arrival in NYC. Not so fast.”

Today’s challenge will be the timing of the inevitable shift later on this afternoon to a more westerly direction. Does one take the risk to head closer to shore to get to the shift first? Will that take them out of the otherwise dominant northerly Gulf Stream current? Do you instead let the breeze lift you from behind, in hopes of gybing later than the competition to get into a lower lane? These are the questions plaguing all four of the competing teams this morning.

It appears that the boats will pass through another transition zone overnight tonight into tomorrow morning where more of an easterly breeze will take hold. Perhaps we’ll see some boats being willing to take a short term loss and head further offshore to position themselves on a better angle for the sprint to the finish.

Sat phone calls:
Tracking and Race website:

Background: The Atlantic Cup starts in Charleston, SC on May 10 for the 685-mile doublehanded leg to New York City. Following a brief stop-over in New York City, doublehanded teams race a 240-mile leg to Newport, RI. The third and final leg consists of two days (May 24-25) of inshore racing in Newport with a crew of six. The team with the combined highest score from the three legs will be the Atlantic Cup Champion. The prize purse for the Atlantic Cup is $15,000.

Competing in Leg 1
#39 Pleiad Racing-USA
Ed Cesare (Norwalk, CT) and Chad Corning (Larchmont, NY)

#54 Dragon-USA
Michael Hennessy (Mystic, CT) and Rob Windsor (Centerport, NY)

#106 Gryphon Solo II -USA
Joe Harris (South Hamilton, MA) and Patrick O’Connor (Buffalo, NY)

Jeffrey Macfarlane (Franklin Lakes, NJ) and Jake Arcand (Honolulu, HI)

Not competing in Leg 1
#25 Flatline-USA
Kyle Hubley (Canada) and Frederick De Mesel (Belgium)

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