Rambler back in the breeze

Rambler 100 pulls away from Puma in the Transatlantic Race 2011

Saturday July 9th 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Through the ridge and into the northwesterlies to the southwest of the depression currently over the UK , so the leaders in the Transatlantic Race 2011 have all turned their bows north back towards Ireland, converging with the great circle between Newport and the finish line at the Lizard.

This morning leader on the water Rambler 100 has 347 miles left to sail and is making 11 knots and being first through the ridge she has extended over Ken Read's Puma VO70 mar mostro, which in turn has 423 miles to go, is making 12.9 knots and is to the south of her larger rival. While ICAP Leopard has the excuse of a broken bowsprit, we're surprised by how far back Karl Kwok's Farr 80 Beau Geste is, with 843 miles to go. While she is tackling the ridge at present we wonder if she hasn't broken something significant on board too.

In IRC Class Two, Jazz, the Cookson 50 skippered by Nigel King, has seen its lead reduced and Varuna and Shakti, the two Rogers 46s behind them, are a significant threat, especially after time correction.

“They are a big worry,” confirmed King by satellite link. “Right now, we are barely making headway and we are fighting for every ounce of boat speed. One of our greatest motivations is to do our best for the owner of Jazz, Chris Bull. He cannot be with us due to family commitments and doing the best we can is our way of rewarding him for the gesture of letting us carry on and do this race without him. All of the crew on Jazz is digging deep and morale is high.”

In IRC Class Three, the Reichel Pugh 65 Zaraffa has been a contender for the overall handicap prize since the start of the race. “Zaraffa is a great boat with an excellent crew,” said skipper Huntington Sheldon. “And although we slowed up for about an hour today, we believe we are through the ridge of high pressure and will be back up to speed very soon. The weather models we have been looking at, and I am sure they are similar to the ones that are on the tracker, have not always been totally accurate but all is good on board and we are enjoying a fantastic race.”

The young team on the Class 40 Concise 2 led by Ned Collier-Wakefield is finding conditions tough on board. “We are now beating into a northeasterly wind with a following sea, which is not the most comfortable angle for a Class 40,” said navigator Luke McCarthy. “The crew is all pretty tired and we are looking forward to finishing this race in a few days’ time. It looks as though we will be into better conditions soon, but for the meantime it is hard going on Concise at the moment.”

By sharp contrast to life aboard the 40’ Concise 2, with six crew living in cramped, damp and difficult conditions, the 16 crew on the 289ft Perini Navi Maltese Falcon are working hard, but enjoying rather more comfortable surroundings. Recent pictures sent back from onboardshow fabulous fare from a galley fit for a gourmet chef, a king size bed with crisp linen bed sheets and even a steam bath.

Life aboard the 26 yachts in the Transatlantic Race 2011 varies considerably, but one thing that will be common to all is fatigue. Even on Maltese Falcon, running systems and maintaining the yacht is an arduous task for the crew. With the lightening conditions so the Gunboat catamaran Phaedo has retaken the lead in the Open class.

Sponsors of the TR 2011 are Rolex, Thomson Reuters, Newport Shipyard, Perini Navi and Peters & May, with additional support by apparel sponsor Atlantis Weathergear.

Amory Ross reports from Vanquish in IRC 1:

Hi All,
It’s been a day of sailing around here and not typing, our apologies. We are the farthest boat to the north and we’re in a crucial point of the race (over halfway home), sandwiched between a difficult trough from the low to our northwest and the remains of the high-pressure ridge to the east. The fog has lifted and the sun made a few appearances today, too, which made for some joyous excitement on deck; it was beginning to feel a bit like Groundhog Day around here. It’s gone again for now though, so we must be getting close to England!

We’re still headed east under the blast-reacher and genoa staysail, continuously headed from the trough, trying to hedge our direction to the south in case this low runs us over and we end up having to sail upwind: we want to make sure we have some wiggle room to put the bow down to the north, crack sheets, and reach to the finish.

The faster boats that went south have all punched through and are back at speed. Rambler should be finishing in the next 36 hours. Beau Geste on the other hand, our fellow competitor to the north and one of the few boats in front of us on the leader board, is struggling mightily and it’s our time to make up some miles on them. They’re smack dab in the middle of the high we have managed to stay behind, dead ahead, and they’re sailing upwind on the opposite tack, really slowly. It’s a huge opportunity for us to reel them in and pick up a spot in the standings.

Back to the night sailing.... It’s such a cool part of this life out here, ripping along in the dark, senses are super aware and we get to see some wild things. Last night we’d pass schools of fish and they’d scatter, leaving phosphorescent trails in their wake, giant green globs under the ocean’s surface moving in unison. Just amazing.

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