Stop and go in Antigua Bermuda Race

Published on May 10th, 2019

(May 10, 2019; Day 3) – The 2019 Antigua Bermuda Race entered a new phase last night along the 935 mile course when the international fleet encountered a pressure ridge over a thousand miles wide, right across the race course. Race leader Supermaxi SHK Scallywag (HKG) came to a grinding halt and watched the rest of the fleet close the gap until they also lost the breeze.

Scallywag’s tactic of sailing almost 175 miles west of the rhumb line looked smart as the easterly going ocean current did at least work in their favor, but during the night, it was snakes and ladders as one boat after another lost or gained in the patchy breeze. Behind the leader, teams are still using their own strategies to maximize performance and get through the light air and make it to the fresh breeze north.

At 1400 AST today, SKH Scallywag was back in the breeze, making 15 knots of boat speed, with 400 miles to go to the finish. Afansay Isaev Maxi Weddell (RUS) was approximately 100 miles behind the leader as the chasing pack were enjoying tight racing with only 18 miles of separation between the next five boats: Esprit de Corps IV (CAN), Pata Negra (GBR), Maremosso (GER), Challenger (CAN), and Raucous (SUI).

Morgan Watson and Meg Reilly sent in a blog from on board their Pogo 12.50, giving a taste of the light conditions, and more importantly sharing the knowledge of how to keep Hermes II (CAN) going:

“It was hard to see the Open40 Raucous approach and pass us, and even harder not to follow them jib reaching due north,” commented Meg Reilly. “But we were patient and held our course, preparing for the best positioning for the wind holes ahead. So we worked with what we had. Sure the Code Zero would’ve been perfect, but we don’t have that sail (yet).

“So we tried double-slotting with the jib and a reefed staysail, and then eventually we hoisted the A3 with full staysail and have been running that combo at hot angles ever since. Currently squeezing 6-7 knots boat speed in breeze not too much stronger than that. Driving must be fine-tuned and precise to maintain momentum and keep the kite filled. Small light air patches ahead, but with a slow residual swell and a slightly reachy angle, we can keep Hermes moving ahead.”

The fleet is expected to reach the fresh winds north of their position during tonight.

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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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