Phaedo3 at the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race © RORC/James Mitchell
Day Six 0900 GMT 1st December Report
Lloyd Thornburg's American MOD70 Phaedo3 has less than 1,000 miles to go to Camper & Nicholson's Port Louis Marina, Grenada. In the IRC fleet, Mike Slade's Maxi, Leopard 3 is ahead on the water and estimated to be leading the race after IRC time correction for the RORC Transatlantic Trophy. Behind the frontrunners, much of the fleet have encountered light winds and the future looks pretty grim with headwinds forecast.
MOD70 Phaedo3 has hardly put a foot wrong since leaving Marina Lanzarote last Saturday (26 November). With perfect timing, Phaedo3 has blasted south connecting with another weather system to provide yet more high speed adrenalin downwind sailing. Listen to Brian Thompson’s daily take on the race HERE. https://soundcloud.com/user-403153421
Going flat out! Close reaching, average speeds of 30 knots, peaks of 38 as Maserati MOD70 flies toward the Grenada finish-line © Team Maserati
Giovanni Soldini's MOD70 Maserati is also enjoying the incredible ride south and foiling on starboard gybe. The Italian trimaran is averaging about a knot more than Phaedo3 and yesterday reported an incredible day with average speeds of around 30 knots! However, the speed differential alone is not enough to overhaul their rivals. Maserati have taken a more southerly route, but Phaedo3 has a lead of over 200 miles.
Video: flat out on board Maserati: https://youtu.be/ZKtAipPNGVM
The crew aboard Mike Slade's British Maxi, Leopard 3 has completed the first half of the race and continues to extend their lead on the monohull fleet. Six days into the race Leopard is 270 miles ahead of the IRC fleet.
Whilst the fastest teams in the race are experiencing exhilarating downwind conditions, the chasing pack are left in the wake of a low pressure system that has moved north and out of reach. The immediate outlook is also not so good with more upwind work to come.
In the Class40 Division Halvard Mabire & Miranda Merron's Campagne de France have maintained their impressive form and lead Catherine Pourre's Eärendil.
Chris Stanmore Major, skipper of Volvo 60 Challenger reveals the scenario on board: "After a decent night making steady headway, alternating between headsails and the Code Zero, we thought life was pretty good on board Challenger until the coming up of the sun. The Zero started to wilt, the main started to slat and in short order we ran slap bang into the middle of a wind hole. For those who have experience of such things, let me clarify that this was not the kind of wind hole that comes complete with mill pond conditions, wistful memories and philosophical reflection. No this is the other kind, with messy rolling swell left over from what ever was blowing before and only the slap and bang of the mainsheet, wildly tipping decks and the epic frustrations of 14 people who are convinced ours is the only boat stuck in such a way!"
Chris Stanmore-Major and Team Challenger/Spartan Ocean Racing at the gala dinner for teams before the start in Lanzarote © RORC/James Mitchell
"The afternoon was then a fantastic ride 11-12 knots straight down the line to Grenada with everyone helming the boat at her polar best for this wind angle," continues Chris. After a good feed of couscous, vegetables and lime juice to rally energies, suddenly the crew began to smile and feel good about themselves again; things were not so bad. At that moment, on time, the wind started to veer; our sleigh ride came to an end and we started to go onto the beat. 25 knots on the nose now and perhaps more to come. So what do I tell the crew? That there is more foul weather ahead and things are going to be unpleasant? Of course not, I always remind a sailor how lucky he/she is. I'm just off on deck to start a discussion how fantastic it will be to begin a tenacious come back, beating upwind in a Volvo 60 is one of the world's best boats to go to weather in (sic)."
Ben Harris reported in via satellite from on board James Heald's IRC Two Handed entry, Swan 45 Nemesis. "Nemesis checking in again on the first of the month and at this rate we could be cooking turkey on board – if we had one! Definitely feels like a RORC race. However a bit odd to be swimming this morning, 550 miles offshore in water 4,830 meters deep, with no wind whatsoever. Now to blast reaching in the pitch black in 20 knots and horizontal rain!"
Leading the IRC fleet across to Grenada, Mike Slade's record-breaking Leopard 3 © RORC/James Mitchell