Speed bump for Antigua Bermuda Race

Published on May 9th, 2019

(May 9, 2019; Day 2) – Blast reaching in the tropics is hard to improve on, and for the first day and night of the 2019 Antigua Bermuda Race, the 11-boat fleet have had their fill. However, Mother Nature is about to deliver a speed bump that will bring a tactical and skillful element to the 935 nautical mile oceanic race to Bermuda.

All yachts in the race have been eating up the miles, led by Supermaxi SHK Scallywag (HKG) which is set for a 24 hour run of over 400 nm, within striking distance of race record pace. Miles Seddon, British navigator on SHK Scallywag checked in just before dusk on the first night: “We are just passing Anguilla, leaving the Caribbean behind. Top speed so far has been 26.5 knots.”

Over the next 24 hours, the fleet is set to finish their trade winds ride as they encounter an occluded front across their path to Bermuda. Cold air from a mature low pressure system further north is overtaking the warm trade winds, with the overall effect to be a trough, or pressure ridge, in which the fleet is likely to encounter light head winds.

However, the mixture of cold and warm air can also cause localized squalls giving sudden significant wind shifts in both direction and speed.

The occluded front may be the reason for race leader SHK Scallywag’s western route, as heading to the west of the trough should keep the SHK Scallywag in the breeze. The big picture is juggling the extra miles west to gain more wind, with less miles heading north, but less wind. Scallywag’s enormous rig and huge sail area should keep her going even in the lightest of breeze.

In the IRC Racing Class, Afansay Isaev Maxi Weddell (RUS) is leading the pack on the water, chasing Scallywag. Lombard 46 Pata Negra (GBR) skippered by Andy Liss is leading the fleet after IRC time correction. Gilles Barbot’s Volvo 60 Esprit de Corps IV (CAN) is second, and Pogo 12.50 Hermes II (CAN), co-skippered by Morgan Watson and Meg Reilly, is third.

In the CSA Cruising Class, Pata Negra has the upper hand, but Carlo Falcone is stalking his prey with his classic 1938 79ft Alfred Milne yawl Mariella. The fast-reaching conditions so far have been ideal for Mariella, currently placed second in CSA Cruising.

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The third edition of the 935-mile Antigua Bermuda Race will start on the May 8 and is organized in association with Antigua Sailing Week and is supported by the Bermuda Tourism Authority. Yachts of 40-feet and over will be racing under the IRC Rating Rule, MOCRA and the CSA Racing Rule, with the latter amended to permit boats to use their engines, subject to a time penalty.

The 2019 Atlantic Ocean Racing Series will consist of five races: RORC Caribbean 600, Antigua Bermuda Race, Transatlantic Race 2019, Rolex Fastnet Race, and Rolex Middle Sea Race. Three races, including the Transatlantic Race (weighted 1.5), will be required to qualify.

Source: Louay Habib

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