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CQS less than 300 miles from Grenada in the RORC Transatlantic Race

by Louay Habib 5 Dec 2017 16:41 GMT 5 December 2017

Ludde Ingvall's Maxi CQS is expected to finish the 4th edition of the RORC Transatlantic Race tomorrow, and the overall leader under IRC - Eric de Turckheim's French Teasing Machine - is under threat from two Maxis. Everyone is keeping a close eye on the race tracker as the fleet near Grenada; especially as a high pressure system is expected to create another conundrum for the majority of the fleet.

As dawn broke on the eleventh day of the 2017 RORC Transatlantic Race, Ludde Ingvall's Australian Maxi CQS was under 300 miles from taking monohull line honours and lifting the IMA Transatlantic Trophy. CQS has suffered damage to their mainsail during a knockdown in heavy weather and has one big gybe remaining before pointing their bow at Grenada and the finish. CQS is reaching at top speed and expected to finish at approximately midday local time on Wednesday 6th December. A warm welcome is waiting for them at Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina.

In the race for the RORC Transatlantic Trophy for the best corrected time under IRC, Eric de Turckheim's French Nivelt-Muratet 54 Teasing Machine is still leading the race, but the margin has been reduced significantly. Teasing Machine is the most southerly of yachts in the fleet that have all been attracted to an area of increased wind strength accompanied by a significant sea state. Teasing Machine gybed west at around dawn, blasting along at over 16 knots of boat speed and still lead the race after IRC time correction, but two Maxis are now ahead of them on the water.

Jochen Bovenkamp's Dutch Marten 72 Aragon and Canadian Southern Wind 96 Sorceress, skippered by Daniel Stump are enjoying a high-speed Maxi match race with under 1,000 miles to go. Last year's overall race winner, Aragon gybed west this morning and looks to have the upper hand for the moment. As the most southerly of the dueling Maxis, she is benefiting from the increased pressure and sea state.

In IRC One, the two provisional leaders from Germany are 700 miles apart. Bjorn Woge's Andrews 56 Broader View Hamburg has regained the class lead from the Kiel-based family members racing on Joh. Wilh. von Eicken's Swan 56 Latona. Eicken's ancestors were part of the founding members of NRV, the Hamburg club celebrating its 150th anniversary.

In IRC Two, Richard Palmer's British JPK 10.10 Jangada, racing Two Handed with Rupert Holmes continues to dominate the class. However, an area of high pressure is forecast to affect the tactical decisions of the vast majority of the fleet. Below is a summary of the scenario from Jangada's blog:

"We have mostly 15-17 knots of true wind speed which occasionally builds to 21 knots from the east north east. We are running deep to maintain our best speed towards Grenada. There's a complex swell pattern - we've now left behind most of the big northerly swell that came from a low pressure in the North Atlantic, and the local wind-driven waves are growing in dominance. However, there's an obstacle in the way - a large area of high pressure sitting right in the middle of where the tradewinds should be, around 700 miles to the west of us. That's why the fleet is predominantly heading west-south-west, to stay in the stronger favourable winds to the south of the low."

Follow the fleet and watch the 2017 RORC Transatlantic Race unfold via rorctransatlantic.rorc.org

YB Race Tracker at rorctransatlantic.rorc.org/tracking/2017-fleet-tracking.html

Individual yachts, classes or the whole fleet can be tracked throughout the race.

Trade wind routine (from Rupert Holmes and Richard Palmer on JPK1010 Jangada)

  • Position 19.43 North, 28.36W
  • Wind 050-080 degrees, 12-21 knots
  • Weather 3/10 cumulus cloud
  • Air temperature 27.5 Celcius
Having been in the trade winds for a couple of days - our latitude is now below 20 degrees north - we've settled into a routine of brisk downwind sailing. We have mostly 15-17 knots of true wind speed, which occasionally builds to 21 knots, from the east north east. That means running deep at true wind angles of 160-165 to maintain our best speed towards Grenada.

There's a complex swell pattern - we've now left behind most of the big northerly swell that came from a low pressure in the north Atlantic, and the local wind driven waves are growing in dominance, but there are still awkward waves from the south east. If you sail too deep downwind the seas knock the air out of the spinnaker and Jangada slows down.

Coverserly, steering high delivers impressive boat speed and a feeling stability, but velocity made good suffers dramatically.

While it's not as exciting as reaching at hotter wind angles, we're making good progress, mostly clocking speeds of 7-10 knots with occasional prolonged surfs of up to 12 knots.

However, there's an obstacle in the way - a large area of high pressure sitting right in the middle of where the trade winds should be around 700 miles to the west of us. That's why the fleet is predominately heading west-south-west, to stay in the stronger favourable winds to the south of the low. We've just gybed west to take advantage of a favourable wind shift, and will then gybe back onto port tack early tomorrow morning.

We're following on the heels of the much larger boats IRC Class 1, hoping to pick off as many as we can on corrected time before the finish. Otherwise, all is quiet out here, although there's more sealife than in the apparently desolate zone north of the tradewind belt - we have occasional dolphins, sea birds and flying fish, the latter in schools of up to 20. We also have in sight the first two cruising yachts we've seen since the start, who are also heading west towards the Caribbean.

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