Hammer time in Transatlantic Race

Published on June 29th, 2019

(June 29, 2019; Day 5) – With the Transatlantic Race 2019 fleet entering its fifth day at sea, some top speeds are showing on the frontrunners as they begin to free up and sail a more northeasterly course.

David Witt and the supermaxi SHK Scallywag regained the boat-for-boat lead this afternoon when they sailed over the top of David and Peter Askew’s Wizard. Sailing in a southerly wind of 18 to 20 knots, SHK Scallywag was able to put its length to use and power over the top of the VO70 within one nautical mile.

“They went ripping along in close proximity, went past us at 24 knots. It was spectacular to see,” said Wizard navigator Will Oxley.

At the 1700 UTC position report, SHK Scallywag was making 23 knots boatspeed on a heading of 053 degrees. Wizard was making 23.4 knots on a heading of 051 degrees. Both were well clear of the southeastern corner of Point Alpha, the ice limit zone.

“It’s been an up and down race so far. The weather has been tricky to pick, especially the ridge that we sailed to near the ice gate,” SHK Scallywag navigator Miles Seddon said earlier this morning, before passing Wizard. “This seems to be lingering with us, so we decided to dive south to get away from the worst of it. Much happier onboard now, as we have made up some of our losses to Wizard. Looks like we are in for a great few days of fast downwind and reaching to come.”

Looking ahead, Oxley sees some fast conditions for the next few days.

“I expect downwind-to-reaching conditions in mid-teens to low 20s for next few days, until about July 2,” Oxley said. “It should be really good conditions until then. There’s a pesky high pressure forming to the west of the English Channel and the models are not decided where it will settle. So, we’ll have to let that play out before deciding our route, but it looks like July 5 at The Lizard and sometime July 6 in Cowes.”

The next grouping of boats features The Kid, Teasing Machine, and Pata Negra. The 46-foot Pata Negra was leading its two larger rivals yesterday, but then got passed. Now the three are contending with a low pressure that’s passing beneath them, somewhat pinning them against the southern edge of the ice limit.

“The weather is taking some interesting turns,” shared Chris Hanson from Pata Negra. “At one point last night it was 30 knots on the nose and now we are desperately trying to escape the center of the forming low pressure as it moves slowly East. The challenge with going north now is the ice exclusion zone as we don’t have a huge amount of space. Currently just put up the first kite of the race… makes a change, but every other upwind sail has been used.”

Further back, Peter Bacon’s 44-footer, Lucy Georgina, leads a pack of boats that includes Rives Potts’s Carina, Ryan Hughes’s True, Mark Stevens’ Kiva, and Hiro Nakajima’s Hiro Maru.

The pack is separated by 91 nautical miles from Lucy Georgina to Hiro Maru. They’re all sailing in mostly northerly winds of 10 to 20 knots and near the rhumbline, approaching the southwest corner of Point Alpha. The next day could get light for them as weather models indicate the windspeed could drop below 10 knots and shift to the southwest.

Constantin Claviez’s Charisma is about the most southerly boat in the fleet, some 116 nautical miles from Hiro Maru on a bearing of 225 degrees. Charisma is sailing in northerlies around 15 knots but is forecast to get southwesterlies up to 20 knots tomorrow by virtue of being farther south than the others.

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Background: The Transatlantic Race 2019 started June 25 for the 2,960-nautical-mile course from Newport, R.I., to Cowes, England.

The 15 yachts entered was reduced to 13 when the Mills 68 Prospector was dismasted during the Annapolis-Newport Race and the Baltic 55 Fearless withdrew due to troubles with the water maker.

The race is organized by the Royal Yacht Squadron, the New York Yacht Club, the Royal Ocean Racing Club, and the Storm Trysail Club.

Pre-start activities took place at the New York Yacht Club’s Harbour Court clubhouse in Newport, while awards will be presented at the Royal Yacht Squadron’s Cowes Castle clubhouse on the Isle of Wight.

The race is a direct descendant of the first great transatlantic ocean race, which started from New York Harbor on December 11, 1866. The 2019 edition will be the 31st transatlantic race organized by the New York Yacht Club with the fleet to start off Castle Hill Lighthouse.

Source: New York Yacht Club

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