RORC Transatlantic Race: 10 degrees of separation

Published on November 30th, 2015

(November 30, 2015) – On the third day of the RORC Transatlantic Race, the dueling MOD 70s are locked in a high speed battle approaching the Cape Verde Islands. 800 miles to the north, Zed 6 is cutting a cold lonely figure and Tales II is back in the race after a pit stop in Tenerife. The trio of powerful maxis have played their first tactical battle and further back in the fleet, there is a very different standard of cuisine aboard Nunatak and Aloha.

On the second night at sea, Lloyd Thornburg’s Phaedo3, skippered by Brian Thompson was still leading the charge south, but only just. Tony Lawson’s Concise 10, skippered by Ned Collier Wakefield – re-branded Ms Barbados – has significantly closed the gap. At one stage Phaedo3 had pulled out a 50 mile lead, but on the morning of day three the two MOD 70s were parallel approaching the Cape Verde Islands. Phaedo3 has the most westerly position, but Concise 10 seems to have more breeze to the east. Phaedo3 has a new set of carbon sails which may have given them an edge, but Concise 10 is sporting radar, which Phaedo3 has not: “The radar dome fitted to the front of the mast can be a bit of a pain when gybing but it gives us ‘eyes’ at night, especially to spot squalls which can have significantly more breeze to give us a real push,” explained Team Concise’s Jonny Malbon.

Phaedo3’s Brian Thompson spoke by satellite connection on the evening of day two:

“Which route wins out, which weather model is more accurate for this section to the Cape Verdes will be decided by tomorrow evening. Watch the tracker to find out! Then the long downwind gybing duel will start from the Cape Verdes to the finish in Grenada. All going really well on board and everyone is into the watch system and catching up on sleep after the big push to get through the variable and windy conditions last night. Lunch today in the sunshine was a buffet of Ryvita with ham and cheese for starters and then Nutella and peanut butter spooned on the Ryvita for dessert…A veritable feast!”

In the duel between the three Maxis, the earlier difference of opinion towards tactics through the Canary Islands has come to a result. Jean-Paul Riviere’s French Finot Conq 100, Nomad IV passed all of the Canary Islands to Port and continued west. Southern Wind 94, Windfall skippered by Irish Olympic sailor Timothy Goodbody, followed the French team, but on a reach, the 100ft wide beam Maxi was always going to pull away. Windfall gybed south and whilst the move did not close the gap, Windfall have not fallen further behind for over 24 hours.

After IRC time correction Windfall now holds a significant lead over the trio of Maxis and the IRC fleet overall. Will Apold’s Canadian Swan 78, Valkyrie chose to head south through the Canary Islands, putting the Canadian Maxi in the most southerly and easterly position of the trio as they approach the high pressure ridge that they must cross at some stage to get to Grenada. There looks to be significantly more pressure to the east and Valkyrie’s position may pay big dividends during the next 24 hours.

Gerald Bibot & Michel Kleinjans Belgian catamaran, Zed 6 is now the only team north of the rhumb line to Grenada. Reporting by satellite phone, Zed 6 is now 10 degrees of latitude north of the MOD 70 or 800 nautical miles. The air and water temperature, as well as sea state will be far more uncomfortable, but according to Gerald Bibot before the start, this route was 24 hours quicker than the southerly route. Pain and gain could be the apt description of the challenge ahead of Zed 6.

Whilst the MOD 70s barrel south at high speed, there is no doubt of the star performer in the 40ft boats taking part in the RORC Transatlantic Race. Maurice Benzaquen’s French Pogo 1250, Aloha is currently second overall under IRC, with only the Maxi Windfall bettering their corrected time. The French crew were spotted loading fresh bread on board at Marina Lanzarote, presumably to compliment the superb French paté and cheese on board. Fortified by great food, the French team, all from Brittany, is setting a fast pace.

Meanwhile on board Nunatak, Chris Frost is not sampling the same level of cuisine prepared by Elin Haf Davies as they race Two-Handed. “Chris got offered either ‘partially cooked’ or ‘burnt’ pasta for dinner last night. Reminding us both that it wasn’t for my cooking skills that he agreed to have me on board as co-skipper. I would explain our watch system, but probably best you just look at the tracker. When it’s going in a straight line, Chris is on watch. When it’s all over the place, I’m on watch. We are both having an amazing time, enjoying as much sleep as we can and loving the good work that Nunatak is doing to power us forward.”

Good news too from the Spanish Class 40 entry, Tales II skippered by Gonzalo Botin. After pulling into Tenerife for a 12 hour pit stop to repair a rudder, the team from Santandar is back in action. “The ball at the top of the port rudder sheered which attaches to the drive rod,” explained Gonzalo. “As per special regulations requirements, we already had a temporary solution in place and we lashed the rudder to the steering arm and used spinnaker blocks to make the additional purchase. The weld is good but we had to beat all the way back to the top of Tenerife, before coming off the wind to re-join the race. The high pressure is spreading across the course and we are the wrong side of it, but we are determined to get back in this race.”

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• The second RORC Transatlantic Race starts in Lanzarote on Saturday 28th November 2015 and the 2,995 nautical mile race runs through the Canary Islands before crossing the Atlantic to arrive in Grenada.
• The race is run in association with the International Maxi Association (IMA).
• The winner of the inaugural RORC Transatlantic Race Trophy for best elapsed time under IRC in 2014 was Jeremy Pilkington’s Lupa of London. The Baltic 78 was also presented with the International Maxi Association’s Line Honours Trophy at a prizegiving ceremony held at Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina at the finish in Grenada.

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