Ocean Masters: Slingshot across the Atlantic

Published on June 4th, 2014

(June 4, 2014) – Following the retirement of Nandor Fa’s Spirit of Hungary yesterday, the four remaining boats in the IMOCA Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race are today exiting the depression, they have spent the last days diverting south towards.

This depression they are using to slingshot them east across the Atlantic.

In the early hours of this morning, this ‘slingshoting’ process entered its second phase as the boats passed just north of the centre of the depression, bring with it a dramatic 180° windshift into the southeast. The boats all tacked on this shift and with the wind still in the southeast, they are now back to hanging on with the breeze back up to gale force.

Having taken the lead yesterday, the French skippers Marc Guillemot and Morgan Lagravière on Safran were first to make the all-important tack at midnight UTC last night.

Race veteran Guillemot explained: “As soon as I saw the barometer stabilise, that meant we were on the other side of the depression centre so, I woke up Morgan and we started to stack inside the boat and then made the tack. I am pretty happy with the way we made it, the position and the timing.”

IMOCA 60s carry several 100kg of spare sails, spares, food [aka ‘the stack’] and during manoeuvres this must be moved from one side to the other, across the boat.

With the almost live tracking the crews were keeping a close eye on when the boats ahead of them made their manoeuvre. Hugo Boss tacked at 02:43 GMT just northeast of where Safran had almost three hours earlier. American Co-skipper Ryan Breymaier described how they made the call on when to go: “We knew what the weather was going to be. The wind angle changed very quickly from 90 to 120° and that was where we wanted to be. As soon as we saw that we tacked.

“The biggest problem with all of that was the stacking,” Breymaier continued. “We stacked everything properly, but it was a bit anticlimactic because the breeze had dropped a fair amount.”

Aside from Safran, the biggest winner to come out of these manoeuvres has been Team Neutrogena. While both GAES Centros Auditivos and Hugo Boss have lost miles to the race leader in the last 24 hours, only Spaniard Guillermo Altadill and Chilean José Muñoz’s IMOCA 60 has made significant gains, and have now overtaken GAES to move up to third place.

Now the boats are back into the ‘big reaching’ conditions, similar to those they were experiencing yesterday, only this time on the opposite tack.

“It is wet, very very wet,” shared Breymaier. “We are beam reaching in 20-25 knots and it is an underwater boat basically. The waves hit and they just go everywhere. They are not very confused or massive waves, they are just in the way!”

As the boats were blast reaching their way out of the depression, Safran showed to have a bit of a speed edge on Hugo Boss. “Our game plan is to push very, very hard to catch Safran,” noted Breymaier. “But we have to figure out a couple more knots of boat speed…”

Next up for the boats is passing the ice box, southern extremity is at 40degN, to the south of which they are obliged to remain.

Hugo Boss co-skipper Pepe Ribes (ESP) predicts that for the next four days they will see very fast, very wet reaching, then some downwind as the breeze moderates and some light downwind work as they wait for the next low pressure end of the weekend.

Overnight the wind is set to remain at a stiff 20-25 knots, but is forecast to veer round into the south or the SSW as the depression the boats passed through last night finally moves away to the north.

Race websiteTracking

Background: The 3720 mile IMOCA Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race is a new doublehanded race for the Open 60 class. Five teams started from New York on June 1, with the expected finish into Barcelona, Spain at around June 12-15.

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