• Scallywag Reels In The Wizard

    July 3 Update: Transatlantic Race 2019 Features Match Races Throughout Fleet

    NEWPORT, R.I. — With the Irish coast just 200 nautical miles away for race leader Wizard at 1500 UTC today, the front runners in the Transatlantic Race 2019 might seem to be on the home straight, but there remain many hurdles and potholes ahead before they cross the Royal Yacht Squadron finish line this weekend.


    At present David and Peter Askew’s VO70 and Lee Seng Huang's 100-foot maxi SHK Scallywag (top photo) are attempting to find the best way to exit an area of high pressure just off Ireland’s west coast. Once free, the forecast warns of fickle headwinds for the final 160 nautical miles they must sail up the English Channel to Cowes.

    Since late evening Monday the tracker has stopped functioning onboard SHK Scallywag. Positions are now being sent through manually from the maxi and at 1500 UTC this showed her having made major inroads into Wizard’s lead. On Monday morning SHK Scallywag had been trailing her rival by around 90 miles. At 1500 this afternoon this had dwindled to 38 miles, although Wizard was making better speed further from the high’s center.

    Similarly, astern of the leaders the match race has closed up again between the French 54-footers, Eric de Turckheim’s Nivelt/Muratet Teasing Machine (photo left, to the right) and the Verdier-designed The Kid (photo left, left), skippered by Vendée Globe legend Jean-Pierre Dick. On Monday afternoon, The Kid was some 40 miles astern, but this afternoon at 1500 she had drawn level.

    “Conditions are great,” enthused Dick. “We are surfing with a depression coming behind us, and have averaged 15 to 16 knots over the last few hours. We’re enjoying this a lot but the best thing is that we are now very close to our incredible competitor Teasing Machine.” They had been able to see their rivals until this morning when, despite sailing in 20 to 24 knots of wind, fog had set in.

    Highlight of the last 24 hours for the crew on The Kid was being visited by some whales less than 10 meters from the boat. “It was a beautiful moment,” recalled Dick.

    With a sizeable front to the west, Dick was expecting the breeze to build slightly to around 30 knots and he was anticipating they would drop their spinnaker before it hit. Otherwise, Dick observed the usual compression and expansion happening across the fleet. As he came into Teasing Machine, so he expects the smaller boats behind to make in-roads into them as they approach with the breeze.

    Directly astern, Giles Redpath’s Lombard 46 Pata Negra is attempting to hang on to the coattails of her larger rivals. From onboard Chris Hansen reported that they currently were enjoying 21 knots of wind from the south, but noted: “The sunshine has disappeared and we are into the grey North Atlantic. The sea is pretty flat, but we have had a nice bit of surfing. We got 18.8 knots out of the boat this morning.”

    To the south of the 54s, Pata Negra is in slightly less pressure but steadily averaging 12 to 14 knots. Their concern is not the big breeze to the west, but the lack of it to the east. “Basically, it is going to get very light over the next couple of days.”

    The ridge, which this afternoon spans more than 400 miles down the great circle to the Lizard, is what is prompting all the IRC 2 boats to head a long way north. However, according to Hansen, the boats behind Clarke Murphy’s 82-foot Aegir will be able to take a less indirect course to remain in the breeze. This is one reason why Pata Negra has currently relieved Aegir of the lead under IRC corrected time in their class.

    Despite being due east of the ice gate Hansen was still wearing shorts, however it had just started to drizzle so the foul weather was being broken out again on deck.

    The biggest breeze in the fleet today, as yesterday, remains for the tail-enders, which were still tackling the 25- to 30-knot southerlies from a slow-moving front associated with a depression that over the last 24 has moved slowly north, now centred just north of Newfoundland.

    This afternoon Rives Potts’ “good ’ol boys” aboard the venerable McCurdy & Rhodes 48 Carina and Ryan Hughes’ J/52 True were leading the IRC 3 fleet both on the water and on corrected time past the ice exclusion zone’s point A4 after which they will be more or less free to sail their own course for the remainder of the race.

    Aegir averted disaster today when the crew discovered the spinnaker halyard strop had chafed to only two strands remaining.

    “We sailed for a continuous 48 hours with our A4 (spinnaker) in the air,” said captain Romain Mouchel. “We sent our bowman, Al Fraser (right), to the top of the rig to investigate the reason for the chafing. We have started our own splicing school on board following this incident. Al has been teaching the Murphy girls the basics of whipping/splicing (apprentices ???) as well as making a new lock strop so we could be back to 100 percent and able to peel spinnakers.”


    Pata Negra - the 19 knot club gets formed

    By Guest , on July 04 2019 15:15
    Today there's a real feeling of deja vu. Once again awoken by the

    boat cavitating over the waves as 8 tonnes of yacht lifts and turns

    into a surf board. The roar of water and the screams of joy on the

    deck as the boat pushes past previous records and on to 19.92 knots.

    Once again Andreas at the helm. When I came up there's a mood of

    delight as he leaps in front of me and taunts me that the record is

    his! Although he came on as a bowman, there's no doubt Andreas has

    talent and like the other younger crew members has done nothing but

    sail... Sailing is their life, their passion and their job.

    Andreas has been working in the US for a charity linked to sailing and

    is soon embarking on a M32 campaign with some friends. He's very

    experienced at foiling, where the sail boat lifts on a hydrofoil out

    of the water so extreme speeds can be achieved and doing this crossing

    I did wonder how long it will be before someone “foils” across the

    atlantic far faster than a ship or power boat could do it.

    We've done over 1,000 miles now under A sail and without a gybe or

    tack. The boat seems familiar healed to port and we're all used to

    the noise of rushing water past the hull. We know in a few days

    though that will change. This morning was thick thick fog. You

    could see about 80 metres in all directions and we knew from AIS there

    were various ships near us. Good thing they could see us on their

    AIS too.

    Route planning is getting very stressful for Rob. Out of the models

    we are downloading, they show a preference to go North to avoid the

    high pressure ahead but this adds huge distance what we must sail.

    How much do you trust a particular forecast and how far out can it be

    accurate? So we're taking a middle ground but for those following the

    tracker, this demonstrates why Teasing Machine and others have sailed

    over 100 miles North of us. They're faster so they get impacted

    harder by the high pressure whilst the slower boats behind can take a

    more direct route on a new depression coming across the Atlantic.

    We're close to 1200 miles to the finish, just a couple of Fastnet


    Food planning is getting tighter.... I'm trusting this PC Routing

    software to get it right that we don't go hungry... Off to serve up

    Lentil soup and pizza pieces.

    Chris Hanson on Pata Negra... wondering how I get my record back?

    ************************************************** **

    Aegir Update - 'Bang in the Night'

    By Guest , on July 04 2019 15:05
    1:00 am this morning in the pitch black damp of the North Atlantic, as we plunge forward at 14 knots of boat speed under spinnaker. Cold, wet and suddenly surprised. The bow jumps up as the boat decelerates instantly. I yell; "We hit something." Another yells over the noise; "Is it the chute??".

    In the prearranged signal to those below, I repeatedly pound my fist on the deck next to the wheel as we all bellow "Everyone on deck, on deck, on deck, on deck...".
    When inevitably asked why spend vacations racing across the North Atlantic, I give pretty much the same answer; it is an enormous challenge. I think some people perceive that as a macho response to man vs nature or some ancient Poseidon complex. Not in the slightest. If asked further I explain that the challenges are multiple, varied; dynamic and great fun. Almost all the time. Truly invigorating time in a different environment from our day to day.

    If you are reading this you probably already know these challenges; weather, navigation, boat performance, crew dynamics, tactics, maneuvers, trim, preparation for the totally unexpected. Drilled into me for years was the notion that 90% of a successful race happens before the starting line. And while history has proven that to be largely correct, the best prepared boat cannot change weather, the pounding of wind, seas and salt water on boats and people. Exhaustion and concentration or simple boat chafe consistently derail preparation. And when asked about crew and who fits best to create a fun experience in this environment the answer always the same--how they handle the surprise at 3 am in the dark. And the humor to laugh later, whatever was faced.

    So last night's challenge in the dark was the strop connecting the tack of the sail to the loop that attaches the tack line on the bowsprit. As everyone rushed on deck, some only in boxers and boots, a torch shone on the A2 flying from the top of the mast like laundry flapping on a clothesline. The retrieval line dragging in the water out of reach. It all worked out... spinnaker taken down, sent below to a massive packing job, tack strop replaced and by 1:30 am spinnaker up and we were full speed.

    Back to the main challenge of the high and low systems shoving each other like wrestlers as we race north around the high and boats behind catching us with the winds from the low they are riding.
    Challenges, challenges..
    Clarke Murphy

    Happy July 4th from the North Atlantic


    Aegir update - Chafe, a sailors worst nightmare

    By Guest , on July 03 2019 16:46
    Chafe, a Sailor's worst Nightmare

    I don't mean it in the way that you are all thinking of right now ... I am talking about rope chafe.
    We sailed for a continuous 48 hours with our A4 (spinnaker) in the air and when the time came to peel to our favorite code 0 (reaching sail), we realised our halyard strop only had two strands left..... this could have been bad. Having a sail fall out from the sky is never a good thing, particularly at night.

    We sent our bowman, Al Fraser to the top of the rig to investigate the reason for the chafing and whilst up there he made the most of it by taking a few holidays snaps (see attached).
    We have started our own splicing school on board following this incident. Al Fraser has been teaching the Murphy girls the basics of whipping/splicing (apprentices ???) as well as making a new lock strop so we could be back to 100% and able to peel spinnakers.

    As I write this, we are sailing under A2 in 10-12 knots of wind and beautiful sunshine - a nice respite after all the cloud of the last few days.

    Romain Mouchel
    Aegir Captain
    This article was originally published in forum thread: 2019 Transatlantic Race Gets Underway started by Photoboy View original post