This year’s race across The Pond has been so uncharacteristic that the 120 sailors will be forgiven for feeling like they’re a school of minnows. Instead of southwesterlies pushing them along from behind, the fleet has spent an inordinate amount of time pounding upwind.
“It’s been pretty much all upwind until the wee hours of this morning,” said Carina navigator Gary Grant. “The forecast is a bit different from what we expected. This morning we thought the wind would back from the east to the northwest before dying and then filling in from the southwest. Instead, it’s been veering from the east around to the southwest. Whichever way the wind gets here, fine. We just hope to hold the southwesterly to clear the ice zone.”
At today’s 1630 UTC position report, Rives Potts’ Carina was 284 nautical miles from waypoint A3, the southeastern corner of the ice zone limit. Grant said that Carina and the J/52 True, co-skippered by Howard Hodgson and Ryan Hughes, have been crossing paths all race. He also mentioned that Mark Stevens’ Kiva has been in the mix, although it has fallen slightly farther astern in the past day.
NEWPORT, R.I. – 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.
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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.
Aside from the three lead boats, who this afternoon were in following winds on top of a low pressure, there have been scant few opportunities to put up fuller, off wind sails as the wind has mostly been forward of the beam.
At today’s 1230 UTC position report, David and Peter Askew’s VO70 Wizard had moved into the overall lead on the water after overtaking David Witt and the supermaxi SHK Scallywag, which had been leading since Tuesday’s start.
Wizard’s distance to the finish was reported as 2,290 nautical miles, whereas SHK Scallywag was 2,300 nautical miles away. Wizard was on port tack and crossing SHK Scallywag’s starboard-tack bearing by some 63 nautical miles.
An hour later, at the 1330 UTC report, Wizard had maneuvered back to starboard to cover SHK Scallywag and was making 14.9 knots while SHK Scallywag was sailing at 2.9 knots.
Presumably, Wizard is enjoying some benefit from the Gulf Stream as it is farther south than SHK Scallywag. That could also be contributing to the great speed difference between the two yachts. Wizard was about 335 nautical miles from waypoint A3, the southeastern marker of Point Alpha, the ice limit zone. Once past that waypoint the course opens up and they’re free to sail a more northeasterly course towards England.
It’s perhaps due to the lack of screaming conditions that the action is so compelling. Rather than dodging waves and squalls, the fleet is scampering around light patches while setting up for the effects of the Gulf Stream.
At the head of the fleet the supermaxi SHK Scallywag, skippered by Australian David Witt, seems to have sailed itself into a corner from which returning is going to come at a hefty price.
At today’s 1530 UTC position report, some 48 hours after the race start, SHK Scallywag was about 170 nautical miles due west of the waypoint A2 marking the southwestern corner of Point Alpha, the ice limit zone. SHK Scallywag was 146 nautical miles north of Wizard on a bearing of 338, but was making 14.6 knots boatspeed on a heading of 156 degrees.
That has put David and Peter Askew’s Wizard, the Juan Kouyoumdjian-designed VO70, into the virtual lead on the water. Wizard is south of the rhumbline sailing at 15.1 knots on a bearing of 106 degrees in south/southwesterly winds around 10 knots. Wizard, however, is far from in the clear as the crew attempts to slither between two patches of light wind.
NEWPORT, R.I. — Few things are straightforward when racing across the Atlantic Ocean. There are safety concerns at every turn, from storms and lightning threatening everything above water to unseen floating objects (“UFOs”) threatening the parts underwater.
Contrary to that theory, the 13 yachts participating in the Transatlantic Race 2019 have had surprisingly straightforward conditions in their first 24 hours at sea.
“The first night was fairly easy,” said David Askew, co-owner of the VO70 Wizard (top photo). “We’ve been close reaching in 18 to 20 knots of wind from the south and making 13 knots boatspeed.
“The weather has been very nice,” Askew continued. “We had light rain on and off all night. This morning it cleared and has stopped raining. The breeze has been very steady, we’re even seeing patches of blue sky. It’s also been warmer than most everybody expected.”