• Light Patches And Gulf Stream

    Transatlantic Race 2019 Fleet Contending with Light Patches and Gulf Stream

    NEWPORT, R.I. — The conditions on the open Atlantic Ocean are far from white knuckle, but the tactics playing out in the Transatlantic Race 2019 are never more interesting.

    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.
    SHK Scallywag, meanwhile, hopes to get to rhumbline or south of it before tacking back to starboard. But a light patch of wind awaits in that area.


    In between the two and slightly astern is Aegir, the 82-footer chartered by Clarke Murphy. Aegir navigator Mike Broughton reports that they’re setting up for the free ride offered by the Gulf Stream.
    “There’s plenty of south wind ahead,” said Broughton. “The way we’re working the Gulf Stream is similar to what Wizard is doing. We’ve had up to 2.5 knots of current from the Gulf Stream. We expect the wind’s going to lighten tomorrow. Hopefully it won’t get too light, but it might be time to break out the Code 0. It’ll be some kind of reaching angle tomorrow.”
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    About 285 nautical miles behind Wizard, on a bearing of 265 degrees, are Eric de Turkheim’s 55-footer Teasing Machine (top photo) and Jean-Pierre Dick’s 54-footer The Kid (at right). The two boats are sailing within two miles of each other, with Teasing Machine slightly farther south and slightly ahead.

    The trick for the two will be to stay on the back end of the front they’re riding or risk falling into lighter winds.
    “We’re doing alright,” said Teasing Machine project manager Laurent Pagès. “We’ve been fighting with squalls, rain and big shifts. The low pressure we’ve been in is starting to run away and we’ll get westerly/northwesterly winds out of that. The conditions have been very variable.

    “We’ve been facing some electrical issues, but hopefully that’s sorted now,” Pagès continued. “We’re within in sight of The Kid. JP (Jean-Pierre Dick) made an early move to position south for the low pressure. We’re not that sure about that call just yet, but at some stage we thought it would be good to get low.”

    In the middle of the racecourse near rhumbline, the “Group of Six” continues to sail in close proximity to each other. The group includes Giles Redpath’s Pata Negra (just south of rhumbline), Peter Bacon’s Lucy Georgina (on rhumbline), Rives Potts’s Carina, Mark Stevens’ Kiva (at left), Hiro Nakajima’s Hiro Maru (all within 14 nautical miles of each other), and Ryan Hughes’ True, the farthest north of the group.

    Shortly past 1200 UTC Carina tacked to port to make some southing in its course. Pata Negra and Kiva followed suit by the 1400 report, and Pata Negra has since put in two more tacks by the 1530 report.
    Aboard Pata Negra, onboard reporter Chris Hanson wrote of settling into life offshore.

    “The sea temperature went from 14 degrees C to 18 degrees C in one hour... getting near the gulf stream now,” said Hanson. “We've temporarily moved to a four hours on/six hours off watch as it’s running smooth to max on the sleep.”

    On Charisma, Constantin Claviez’s Swan 44, the skipper reported on a rotation at the helm position and a savory dinner.
    “To get familiar with the environment, we changed helm every half an hour after the start,” said Claviez. “With dinner (spaghetti Bolognese prepared by Stefan (Eschenmoser) and Horst (Sablotny) we settled into our watch system. The new sails are performing well, jib and mainsail were up, depending on the wind reefed or not.

    “Currently, we are suffering old seas and light winds, speed 3 knots. What a difference to the speed of 8 knots this morning. Anyway, everything goes well on board, the captain is now catching up sleep after a busy night,” Claviez said.
    Back in Portsmouth, R.I., last night, Joe Mele’s Triple Lindy (below) had returned to shore to replace a burned-out alternator. The crew temporarily suspended racing yesterday shortly past 0600 UTC to return to port and make repairs.

    “We have a lithium battery system,” said Mele. “Typically, we run it down to 30 percent, where we start to charge it up again. We started the engine and within a minute there was foul-smelling smoke from the engine compartment. There were no flames, but smoke and we could tell in short order that the alternator had burned out.
    “We saw a loose wire and reconnected it, attempting to repair it, but there was zero output from the alternator so we could tell it had melted. We could’ve carried on but I decided it wouldn’t be prudent. We would’ve lost our comms and ability to transmit AIS. While it would’ve been valiant and heroic, it wasn’t prudent. I didn’t want to risk the welfare of the crew.
    “We’re not gutted, but disappointed,” Mele continued. “We’re determined to do the race and finish. It’ll take more than a burned-out alternator to stop us.”

    At 0405:51 UTC, Triple Lindy restarted the race off Castle Hill Light.
    “We see a nice low that will develop a couple hundred miles out that GFS is telling me we can hook into and have a nice route tight on the great circle,” said navigator H.L. DeVore. “We’re looking forward to catching up to some boats.”


    Update from Caitlin Murphy Aegir

    By Guest , on June 28 2019 12:32
    Spirits are high aboard Aegir as the rain has moved on, and we are feasting on Amy Dawson's incredible meals. This morning began with a gorgeous sunrise and moonset, the first we've seen since the clouds have finally lifted. Mild weather and blue skies lifted all of our spirits and prompted some good story telling.

    Yesterday around mid afternoon, we realized that our water-maker was no longer working properly. This posed a bit of a challenge to making drinking water, cooking , and of course going to the bathroom (we have fresh water heads). The crew of Aegir have taken this in stride alternating who has the arduous job of pumping liters of salt water through a hand pump to produce fresh water. Our water making system has reached new heights with the innovation of a pipe duct-taped to a hook that is put into our wake that forces the salt water uphill into our buckets. An improvement to getting wet everytime we refilled the bucket!

    A couple pods of dolphins have been following us for the past few days, circling to come say hi every few watches and making for some great entertainment! At night, the most incredible part is watching them swim through the phosphorescence - leaving their own glowing wake.
    We have just put up our first spinnaker of the crossing as we sail into a ridge of high pressure. With nice weather, lots of candy bars, and calm seas, we are excited for the next few thousand miles!
    Caitlin Murphy (on my first trans-Atlantic)


    Aegir Day 3

    By Guest , on June 27 2019 13:52
    Day 3 - Aegir

    The washing machine!
    Following our first night at sea in relatively benign seas and moderate winds, we have been treated to a night of washing machine conditions as we negotiate the Gulf Stream. Very confused seas, warm water, shifty, and puffy breeze, needless to say we've had a couple of people feeling worse off for the hot wash and spin cycle conditions! Clarke, our skipper, likened it to a bucking bronco ride.
    It's been a difficult race to route so far, as the weather systems are more complex at this time compared to 'normal' summer more simplistic systems. We're trying to position ourselves advantageously to the low pressure system which is advancing on us, whilst making gains on the Gulf stream which doesn't run in a straight line west to east, so with the wind predominantly out of the south, it's been a game of playing port or starboard tack as the wind shifts and tide rate dictate. In terms of the competition we can see that Wizard have been playing a similar game, making gains in the Gulf Stream, whilst Scallywag have taken a northern flyer which doesn't tie in with any of our routing, especially with the ice gate limits being so far south. I'm thinking their Yellow brick tracker may have been hijacked by a migrating pigeon! Time will tell! As I'm writing this it's roughly 1pm UK time on Thursday 27th June, sea conditions are abating, and we're re-grouping and tidying up after last nights bronco riding. One concerning issue is our water-maker, which we've found out doesn't like making water despite being 'operated on' by our boat captain Romain Mouchel. Second operation is booked later today. Therefore our water-making has been fruitless so far and as a precaution we are using our emergency hand water pump to make water in the interim. When you're 14 people on board, drinking water needs certainly add up. Despite all this, the sun is shining, morale is high and we're making fast miles in the right direction. Go Aegir!
    Abby Ehler
    This article was originally published in forum thread: 2019 Transatlantic Race Gets Underway started by Photoboy View original post