Lupa Spice it Up for Line Honours Victory

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Lupa of London's crew celebrate finishing the RORC Transatlantic Race 2014 winning Line Honours. Photo: RORC/Arthur Daniel

It was a tired but elated crew on Lupa of London, Jeremy Pilkington’s British Baltic 78, that crossed the finish line of the inaugural 2014 RORC Transatlantic Race, off Quarantine Point, Grenada today at 11:38:55 UTC. As they sealed their Line Honours win and secured the International Maxi Association Trophy, a display of water canons fired by the Grenada Fire Service was a fitting finale to their transatlantic crossing, which they completed in an elapsed time of 11 days, 01 hour, 38 minutes and 55 seconds.

Once on the dock at Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina, the British team received a joyous Grenadian welcome and were greeted by Nikoyan Roberts, Grenada Tourism Authority’s Nautical Development Manager and Corporate Communications Officer, Chrislyn Lashington. A huge welcome basket, including Westerhall Rums and local produce, was presented to the Line Honours winning team of the first transatlantic race to this Caribbean spice island.

Port Louis Marina – Ready and Waiting

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Glynn Thomas and staff at Port Louis Marina ready for the first arrivals. Photo: RORC/James Bremridge

Glynn Thomas, General Manager at Port Louis Marina, and his team are ready for the first arrivals of the yachts taking part in the inaugural RORC Transatlantic Race. Two magnificent Maxi Yachts, Lupa of London and Windfall, are expected to arrive at Port Louis Marina this morning (Thursday). The winner will set a race record for the 2,995 nautical mile RORC Transatlantic Race.

“This race is going to help put Port Louis and Grenada on the map as a yachting destination,” commented Glynn Thomas. “It is really important that Grenada supports this event as yachting in Grenada has become a bigger and bigger income generator for the country, and we are delighted to be working with the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) and the Grenada Tourism Authority for the first Transatlantic Race to come to Grenada.

“This race is a step-up for the team at Port Louis. We are more used to cruising boats coming in during the day with sailors that are on holiday, rather than race boats that haven't seen land for 3,000 miles. For the RORC Transatlantic Race we have planned for Maxi racing yachts that might be coming in at night with very tired sailors. We will still keep the standard of welcome that all our guests receive; regardless of what time they arrive. All of the staff are talking about the race and they are keen to see the boats come in and give them a Port Louis welcome that they will appreciate.”

Lupa leader of the pack - Day 11 Morning Report

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The crew onboard the Baltic 78, Lupa of London, at the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race. Credit: RORC/James Mitchell

10 December

Race fans watching the tracker page over the last 24 hours have been witness to the battle at the front of the fleet. Events took a turn when Jeremy Pilkington's Baltic 78, Lupa of London moved into the lead at around sunset yesterday. Russian Southern Wind 94, Windfall, continued to gybe south whilst Lupa of London gybed west. The two yachts were as much as 120 miles apart during the night and, shortly after dawn this morning, the result of the differing tactics is that a lead of over 10 miles has opened up for Lupa of London. As they near the finish, these two Maxi yachts will continue the battle through Wednesday night. Lupa certainly holds the upper hand as she appears to be covering Windfall and will work to keep the boat between Windfall and the finish line in Grenada. With the boats likely out of view of each other, the crew onboard Lupa will be watching the tracker with the rest of the world, keen to ensure Windfall does not take a flyer and find an advantage in the more complicated currents and winds as they pass Barbados and round the southern end of Grenada in the last few miles to the finish.

The overall race win is far more difficult to predict; as the wind is likely to lighten for the leaders during their approach to the islands, the rest of the fleet are going to begin to catch up with them. With weather models showing a consistent easterly wind after the leaders have finished, we may be looking to one of the smaller boats to lift the IRC Trophy. The young American team racing Class40 Oakcliff Racing is a big threat. The Class40, although not always thought of as a competitive IRC racer, is, in fact, built for this type of race with the majority of the sailing downwind in moderate breeze, and they have certainly been constantly high up the leaderboard throughout. The Class40 Vaquita proved in the Racing Division of the ARC in 2011 and 2012 that, given the right conditions and when well sailed, the boat can take the top honours. But it is not just the wind that is affecting the fleet, as Oakcliff Racing revealed in their blog:

Fight to the Finish: Day Ten Morning Report

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Sérénade, Denis Villotte's French JNP 12. Credit: RORC/James Mitchell9th December

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.

Rising in the East: Day Nine - Morning Report

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Russian Southern Wind 94, Windfall, skippered by Fabrizio Oddone. Photo: Puerto Calero/James Mitchell

8th December

In the continued close battle for Line Honours and the IMA Trophy, the Russian Southern Wind 94, Windfall, skippered by Fabrizio Oddone, has extended her lead to over 70 miles on Jeremy Pilkington's Baltic 78, Lupa of London. The Maxi yachts have been experiencing solid easterly trade winds, hitting top boat speed as they shoot down the Atlantic rollers. Both yachts have an asymmetric sail configuration and the apparent wind angle is producing fast reaching conditions in which Windfall's greater waterline length is a big advantage. Windfall is currently expected to make the finish line off Camper and Nicholsons’ Port Louis Marina, Grenada, on Wednesday 10th December, with Lupa of London a few hours behind.

Lupa of London, the British canting keel Maxi, is currently estimated to be leading the fleet overall under IRC. However, while light winds are expected as the leaders approach the finish, which could slow their progress, there is also more wind coming for the yachts further back; hence the race for the overall win is far from over.

American Class40 Oakcliff Racing, skippered by Hobie Ponting, is less than 1000 miles from the finish and posing a threat to Lupa of London for the overall win. Oakcliff Racing has been diving south for the last 24 hours and is almost matching the big Maxis for boat speed. Should the breeze go light ahead, Oakcliff Racing may be able to cover more miles than the Maxis and, with a far lower IRC rating, the young team could easily make up the estimated seven hours difference on corrected time. Nigel Passmore's British J/133, Apollo 7, and Aref Lahham's Swan 68, Yacana, are also in contention for overall victory. The two yachts are enjoying the stronger wind building from the east before the yachts ahead of them and both have covered over 200 miles in the last 24 hours.