After the first night at sea for the international fleet in the Antigua Bermuda Race the pace is relentless. The leading teams Warrior and Varuna are now over 300 miles offshore, blast reaching through two metre swell in the Atlantic Ocean. Warrior was observed to be hitting a top speed of 25 knots last night. At 1200 UTC on Day Two, the turbo-charged Volvo 70 Warrior, sailed by Stephen Murray Jr. had averaged 18 knots since the start of the race and will achieve a 24 hour run of about 450 miles; well inside record pace. Jens Kellinghusen's German Ker 56 Varuna is also set for a 400 mile run in 24 hours. Varuna is 30 miles behind Warrior but is estimated to be leading the fleet after IRC time correction.
The most easterly of the chasing pack is Giles Redpath's British Lombard 46 Pata Negra, skippered by Oliver Heer. Pata Negra's crew include Gareth Glover, two-time skipper in the Clipper Round the World Race and the rest of the crew are all Oliver’s friends from Switzerland, and will be celebrating his 30th birthday today: “I love to sail, but it does take me away from my friends and family, so when I knew I would be at sea for my 30th, what better way to celebrate than with friends racing to Bermuda!” commented Oliver before the race.
The most westerly team is Arnt Bruhn's German Class40 Iskareen.
The 2018 Antigua Bermuda started on Wednesday 9th May off Fort Charlotte, Antigua. Brilliant sunshine and 20 knots of trade winds combined to produce a spectacular start for the 14 yachts and 96 sailors competing in the 935 nautical mile oceanic race. Eager to begin the adventure, a highly competitive start saw the fleet fully powered up, beating into the Caribbean swell. At Green Island the fleet eased sheets, hoisting downwind sails and accelerating into a power reach that should last for at least 48 hours.
“We have a real variety of yachts racing this year, but the teams are peppered with some highly accomplished sailors,” commented Les Crane Antigua Bermuda Race Chair. “At the start Varuna, Teasing Machine and Warrior went right inshore to get the lifting pressure, but just about the whole fleet got away to a good start. The high performance yachts will be fast, but this race is not just about grand prix racing yachts. We have teams entered like the Volvo 60 Challenger which has just three crew, 20 feet each! Also Pata Negra which is heading to Newport for the race to Bermuda, and the all-Irish crew on Irene III who will be smiling all the way to Bermuda. Safety is also a key area; all of the fleet have trackers on board and if a team has a problem, there are nearby yachts to offer assistance. We had a great party in Nelson's Dockyard last night supported by Goslings Rum and another one to look forward to at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.”
Organised by the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club in association with Antigua Sailing Week and supported by the Bermuda Tourism Authority and Goslings Rum.
Record breaking conditions are forecast for the second edition of the Antigua Bermuda Race, with strong easterly trades expected to provide fast reaching conditions for the first two days of the 935 nautical mile oceanic race. High pressure east of Bermuda is expected to decrease the gradient wind, shifting south to create tactical lighter running conditions for the finish into Bermuda.
The American turbo-charged Volvo 70 Warrior, sailed by Stephen Murray Jr. is expected to be the front runner and their current estimated elapsed time is inside the record set last year of 3 days, 20 hours, 32 mins, 41 secs.
“Sailors superstition prevents me from predicting elapsed time, but we are optimistic we can shave off quite a bit of time from last year,” commented Warrior's Stephen Murray Jr. “Our goals are a repeat of last year's grand slam; winning CSA, IRC and a new course record, and we would also love to be the first recipient of the new Warrior Trophy for best IRC performance. We are so excited to have great competition from some very hot boats. This year, we will have our work cut out for us to beat Varuna and Teasing Machine; two proven winners in grand prix racing. As always, we hope to get recognition to the mission of Warrior Sailing, helping veterans through the sport of sailing. A strong showing against this stiff competition will hopefully spread the word about Warrior Sailing.”