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Thread: Antigua Bermuda Race Underway

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    Antigua Bermuda Race Underway




    Bermuda Bound!
    Start of the 2019 Antigua Bermuda Race

    The 2019 Antigua Bermuda Race fleet set off on Wednesday 8th May off Fort Charlotte, Antigua. A perfect start saw brilliant sunshine and 20 knots trade winds combining to produce spectacular conditions for the international fleet. Close to a hundred sailors from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Russia, and the USA are taking part in the 935nm offshore race from Antigua to Bermuda.


    Meg Reilly's Canadian Pogo 12.50 Hermes



    images © Tobias Stoerkle





    TRACKER



    A highly competitive start featured a yachts hugging the rugged coastline of south Antigua, making gains from the lifting pressure rolling down the cliffs. The 100ft canting keel flyer SHK Scallywag (HKG) got away to a cracking start, as did Gilles Barbot's Volvo 60 Esprit de Corps IV (CAN). At Green Island the fleet eased sheets, hoisting downwind sails and accelerating into a power reach that should last for at over 300 miles. According to weather forecasts, they are in for a spectacular treat of superb sailing on a beam reach in tropical heat, surfing through the Atlantic Ocean.

    “Just perfect conditions,” enthused Les Crane, Antigua Bermuda Race Chairman. “Once again Antigua has been a spectacular venue for the start. We had a great party in Nelson's Dockyard last night hosted by Goslings Rum and Bermuda Tourism Authority.

    There is always anticipation before the start, so it is good to see them all get away to a clean start. Safety is the primary concern and all of boats have the designated safety equipment for the race, as well as satellite tracking. The Race Committee in Antigua, led by PRO Stephen Parry did a great job, and we wish all of the teams a safe and enjoyable race. A warm welcome awaits them at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.”

    Three hours into the race all of the yachts were hitting double-digit speed, blasting through two-metre waves in 29 degrees air temperature. Sun glasses on, lapping up the sunshine and relishing the prospect of a first night at sea under a carpet of stars.










    Supermaxi SHK Scallywag skippered by David Witt (AUS) passed Barbuda to starboard, covering over 50 miles in the first three hours. Afansay Isaev’s Maxi Weddell (RUS), and Esprit de Corp IV (CAN) split paths to round different sides of Barbuda and were 20 miles behind the leader. On corrected time, Lombard 46 Pata Negra (GBR) was the early leader in the IRC Division and Carlo Falcone's 1938 yawl Mariella was going well in the CSA Class.

    “We are racing and that’s an Open 40 behind us!” commented Meg Reilly (USA), co-skipper on Pogo 12.50 Hermes. “We have just finished the upwind leg around Antigua and have cracked off towards Bermuda. That was easy!!”

    All of the teams racing in the 2019 Antigua Bermuda Race are expected to pass Barbuda before dusk; the next land they will see is likely to be Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Bermuda, after close to 1,000 miles of Atlantic Ocean Racing.











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    Day 2: Approaching The Speed Bump



    TRACKER


    Blast reaching in the tropics is hard to better, and for the first day and night of the 2019 Antigua Bermuda Race, the international fleet have had their fill. However, Mother Nature is about to deliver a speed bump that will bring a tactical and skilful element to the 935 nautical mile oceanic race to Bermuda.

    All yachts in the race have been eating up the miles in solid trade winds. Supermaxi SHK Scallywag (HKG), skippered by Australian David Witt, is set for a 24 hour run of over 400 nm, within striking distance of race record pace. Miles Seddon, British navigator on SHK Scallywag checked in just before dusk on the first night: “We are just passing Anguilla, leaving the Caribbean behind. Top speed so far has been 26.5 knots.”

    The rest of the fleet has a velocity made good of between 11-8 knots, set for a 24 hour run of between 200-280 miles - fast going by any standards.

    Over the next 24 hours, the fleet are set to finish their thrilling trade winds ride as they encounter an occluded front across their path to Bermuda. Cold air from a mature low pressure system further north is overtaking the warm trade winds. The overall effect is a trough, or pressure ridge in which the fleet is likely to encounter light head winds. However, the mixture of cold and warm air can also cause localised squalls giving sudden significant wind shifts in both direction and speed.

    The occluded front may be the reason for race leader SHK Scallywag's western route. Heading to the west of the trough should keep the SHK Scallywag in the breeze. The big picture is juggling the extra miles west to gain more wind, with less miles heading north, but less wind. Scallywag's enormous rig and huge sail area should keep her going even in the lightest of breeze.

    For the remainder of the fleet, racing in light airs can also be very rewarding. Keeping the boat going, even when the speedo is barely moving leads to a big percentage speed gain. The first boat to get through the ridge will extend on the fleet.

    In the IRC Racing Class, Afansay Isaev Maxi Weddell (RUS) is leading the pack on the water, chasing Scallywag. Lombard 46 Pata Negra (GBR) skippered by Andy Liss is leading the fleet after IRC time correction. Gilles Barbot's Volvo 60 Esprit de Corps IV (CAN) is second, and Pogo 12.50 Hermes II (CAN), co-skippered by Morgan Watson & Meg Reilly is third.

    In the CSA Cruising Class, Pata Negra has the upper handed, but the wily fox, Carlo Falcone is stalking his prey. Carlo Falcone is racing his classic 1938 79ft Alfred Milne yawl Mariella with an Italian and Antiguan crew. The fast-reaching conditions so far have been ideal for Mariella, currently placed second in CSA Cruising.
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