Punching Through the Stream

Published on June 20th, 2016

Newport, RI (June 20, 2016; 13:31 EDT) – When dawn blessed Bermuda on Monday, Comanche was still a very lonely yacht in the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club marina a full day after the 100-footer’s crew, led by Kenny Read with navigator Stan Honey, broke the Newport Bermuda Race course record by nearly 5 hours.

The Tracker shows the Farr 72 Maximizer as leading a tight clump of boats in the second-to-finish race, some 100 miles from the finish off St. David’s Lighthouse as they enter the long forecast southwest breeze that, after days of sailing off the wind, will provide a traditional Bermuda Race beat upwind to the finish.

The Gulf Stream crossing has been bouncy for some boats, but it has not been the universal nightmare that some had anticipated back at Newport. “Fantastic ride!,” H.L. Devore reported late Sunday morning from his navigator’s station in Warrior Won, Christopher Sheehan’s X44 in the St. David’s Lighthouse Division. “Gorgeous sunny days, porpoises, sailing and friends, what more could you ask for? We’re in the Gulf Stream. Had a nice dinner of steak and rice tonight. All is well aboard Warrior Won.”

Mark D’Arcy posted two reports on Sunday from the F&C 44 Inisharon, in the Cruiser Division: “The wind has filled in, sun is out and we have passed our entrance waypoint to the Gulf Stream. It is a gorgeous day with lots of beautiful boats around us all doing the very same. With the asymmetrical up we are trucking at good speed and Jim at the wheel doing his magic. Looking at the latest weather, I am hopeful the lulls we experienced are behind us and we expect good breeze all the way in.”

Later Sunday night, Mark told us: “We have punched through the Gulf Stream and now in smoother water. The Gulf Stream was a confused sea, but beautiful sailing with consistent breeze around 12-15kts, Inisharon’s sweet spot. Got the crew on the rail, and everyone is very focused on logging the miles. Burritos for dinner this evening, looking forward to those.”

Mark added, “The stream was far less problematic than what was being discussed through the week. White caps, 5-10 feet waves and very easily manageable. Forecasts are just that and with the weather moving around a lot it is difficult to judge. Nevertheless, it has proved to be delightful sailing. . . . Another beautiful sunset, weather and conditions have been super.”

“We’ll just be older”

For some crews, the biggest problem with the Gulf Stream has been getting into it. A frustrated Chris Museler, in the Swan 44 Aura, emailed us at 1:40 AM Monday after he had a look at data showing wind direction and strength, a reliable profile of area weather. “Hello again John!” Chris wrote with his usual enthusiasm. “The latest GRIB files show a much bigger high we are sitting in than previously thought. I asked navigator Frank Bohlen if he’s concerned if and how we are going to get to the Stream since we are moving at less than 1 knot. He said yes. Then I asked, ‘Can we get there at this rate?’ He replied, ‘Sure, we’ll just be older when we get there.’”

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Background: The 635-mile Newport Bermuda Race, starting on June 17, is the 50th edition and also marks the 90th anniversary of the partnership of the organizers, the Cruising Club of America and Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. Leading up to the start, the fleet size looked to be the second or third largest in history. Then the weather forecasts began predicting gales in and below the Gulf Stream. Following the weather briefing on Thursday night (June 16), boats began withdrawing from the race. Finally 47 boats that had entered decided not to race. That brought the total from 184 boats on June 13 to 142 starters on June 17.

Source: John Rousmaniere

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