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Getting to the southern trades

Published on December 1st, 2017

(December 1, 2017; Day 7) – After nearly a week at sea, Ludde Ingvall’s Australian Maxi CQS is approaching the half way mark of the RORC Transatlantic Race, blast reaching in perfect trade wind conditions. To set a new race record, CQS needs to finish the race before Tuesday December 5 by 1900 hours 06 mins 59 secs UTC.

Eric de Turckheim’s French Nivelt-Muratet 54 Teasing Machine is estimated to be leading the race overall after IRC time correction, and is currently negotiating the ridge of high pressure, which forms a barrier to the trade winds, and is making good progress to achieve this goal.

Aragon and Sorceress have been the two leading maxis and split tacks at about sunset yesterday. Jochen Bovenkamp’s Marten 72 Aragon chose to continue west, whilst Canadian Southernwind 96 Sorceress skippered by Daniel Stump, chose to move south.

Roman Guerra’s Volvo 70 Monster Project had showed terrific pace in the last 24 hours. Diving south from the most northerly position of the fleet, only CQS demonstrated a better pace. However, Monster Project still faced the challenge of how to punch through the high pressure to the trade winds further south. At this report, they have turned north again in hopes for a better opening.

“We basically stuck to our routing programme to get across the ridge of high pressure and it has worked out quite good,” commented Will Apold from Sorceress. “We had two thunderstorms which sucked out the wind for about eight hours. Right now, we are carrying our spinnaker and doing about eight knots in light airs. The sea is so flat, a big difference to the slamming of the first four days.”

There are close battles right through the fleet and none more so than between two German Class40s. In the early part of the race, Mathias Mueller von Blumencron’s Red built up a lead of 30 miles, but smart tactics through the ridge of high pressure, saw Berthold and Tobias Brinkmann’s MarieJo cross in front of Red yesterday morning. Mariejo has managed to maintain a higher average speed than Red, as the two battle west in the high pressure ridge, with MarieJo opening up a lead of 47 miles.

Tobias Brinkmann sets the scene on Red in their blog:
“We are now in the death valley, the no wind zone which separates us from the immense fun of downwind running on a Class40 in the trades. It is night. No cloud, magic starlight. What is good: it’s not so hot and the sun is not torturing us. What is bad: The wind tortures us. It disappeared and for two hours we were completely becalmed.

“At the moment there are puffs of hope, as we call them. We are not talking loudly about them to not anger the gods (superstition is hugely important on board – we even scratch the mast. I could write a whole post about it). But we are whispering among us. Sometimes we have tiny breeze, then it dies again. Extremely difficult to steer.

“At the moment our mark is the belt of Orion, which is laying just in our course. If we steer south of the sword, we are good. North of the sword means closer to the guillotine. We don’t want the guillotine, we want the trades – and they are south of Orion’s sword.

“The trim of the boat is for super light wind. All sails, water, toolboxes etc in the front section, sleeping in the front too, on the sail bags. We cannot do more than wait (can you imagine how difficult that is?) when you come from the digital world, where “instant” is the parole of our age? Please, wind, come!”

Race detailsTrackerEntrants

The fourth edition of the RORC Transatlantic Race started November 25 at Marina Lanzarote, Canary Islands with a record 23 teams racing 3,000 nm to Grenada, West Indies.

Source: Louay Habib, RORC

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