The inaugural RORC Transatlantic Race, in association with the International Maxi Association (IMA), started on Sunday 30th November 1000 UTC from Puerto Calero, Lanzarote, Canary Islands bound for Grenada, West Indies, 2,995 nautical miles across the Atlantic Ocean.
After ten days of intense racing across the Atlantic, the two leading Maxi yachts are virtually side by side, racing the last few hundred miles to the finish at Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina in Grenada. Russian Southern Wind 94, Windfall, skippered by Fabrizio Oddone, and Jeremy Pilkington's Baltic 78, Lupa of London, are locked in a titanic duel for Line Honours in the RORC Transatlantic Race.
At around midnight last night, both yachts gybed south, wary of an area of high pressure to the north of the rhumb line. Windfall put in an extra hitch south just before dawn and this repositioning, closer to the expected fresher breeze, cost at least 30 miles. Also over the past 24 hours, Lupa of London has achieved a far greater boat speed, covering 40 additional miles compared to Windfall. The combination of these two factors has resulted in a fantastic fight to the finish, with Lupa of London currently estimated to be leading the fleet overall under IRC. Both yachts have fewer than 500 miles to go and are expected to arrive in Port Louis on Thursday morning.
Derek Hatfield's Canadian Volvo 60, Spirit of Adventure, is by far the most southerly yacht in the race. Tagged 'Snow Birds', many Canadians love flying south to escape their bitter winter and that analogy could well describe the flight of Spirit of Adventure. Crewed by Corinthian sailors, along with Derek and his professional team, the amiable crew sent a detailed blog from the boat which can be read in full on the website:
“Our crew is doing very well overall; remember we did not enter this race with a boat load of pros like the other boats have. Our race is more of an adventurous endeavour; taking an amateur crew across the Atlantic, an endeavour very few Canadians will ever get to experience; Joes against the Pros as they say. So we are happy that our crew is safe, pushing themselves and working together to get to Grenada.”
American Class40 Oakcliff Racing, skippered by Hobie Ponting, has covered well over 200nm in the last 24 hours. With a wind speed of 20 knots plus, the Farr designed downwind flyer will have been fully launched deep in the Atlantic. Their fellow Class40, Marc Lepesqueux's French Sensation Class40, has reported a wind speed of up to 30 knots but, unfortunately, all of their spinnakers are damaged:
“Saturday night to Sunday morning, the wind was unstable, varying from 15 to 30 knots, the boat went into a broach following a violent wind gust and the spinnaker has been damaged and there's no more spi' onboard. Currently we are surfing on 3m waves at 11kts. Just real fun! 1150 nm to go!”
Nigel Passmore's British J/133, Apollo 7, is currently leading IRC Two ahead of Frank Lang’s X 40, Optim’X, and is estimated to be lying in third place overall. Aref Lahham's Swan 68, Yacana, is also in contention for overall victory, as the two yachts are perfectly positioned for the forecast wind build from the east.
Denis Villotte's French JNP 12, Sérénade, with just three crew on board, has been experiencing strong winds in the middle of the Atlantic. Yves and Isabelle Haudiquet’s Pogo 40, Bingo, has also been enjoying the breeze, covering over 220 nm in the last 24 hours.
Sérénade sent in this blog, which sums up life on board in the Atlantic Ocean, over a thousand miles from any land. The French version can be read on the race minisite:
“December 6 - Gusty conditions have not been very strong but have caused confusing seas and sail changes in the rain squalls are really exhausting. We are in wet clothes but not cold. The crew have discovered that the trade wind is not as expected. Rather Normandy winds! Last night was wet and windy at times, we sailed largely under genoa. The cockpit was treated to a real downpour.
“December 7 - This morning, Sunday, the sun seems to be back in the game and we could dry out. Since mid-day, we finally have the sturdy and stable wind. It revolves around 25-30 kts with a gust to 40. We are almost on the rhumb line to Grenada. The weather announces that wind will be here for 36 hours to come. We are under genoa, cautious not to break anything but that does not prevent a few road trips!
“The sea began to rise, white and blue in the sunshine and we are busy sewing the head back onto the big spinnaker but we will take our time. All is well on board, even if the sleeping hours are short.”