Bermuda 14 May: After three days into the Antigua Bermuda Race, strategic decisions have been few, but that is about to change. The fleet will soon feel the effects of a low pressure system to the east and whilst there should be no big difference in wind strength, the likelihood is that the wind is due to veer to the south. The strategic decision will be whether to stay near the rhumb line and reduce the number of miles sailed, or heat up the angle of attack and head northwest. The Antigua Bermuda Race is entering a crucial stage. The reward for the teams that put in a big effort now will be to catch the breeze about 100 miles to the north, but the fresh breeze is moving east and those who fall behind now will miss the opportunity.
Two of the fastest yachts in the race continue to impress; leading on the water is Stephen Murray Jr.'s American Volvo 70, Warrior ahead of British Swan 82, Stay Calm, skippered by Lloyd Kyte. In the last 24 hours Warrior has not only passed Stay Calm, but extended their lead by 43 miles. Don Macpherson's American Swan 90, Freya has also had a spectacular 24-hour run and is now level with Stay Calm. These three powerful yachts are the furthest west of the entire fleet and will hope to get the fresh breeze before the yachts to the east.
Antigua, May 13, 2017: The fleet enjoyed beautiful conditions for the first day and night of the Antigua Bermuda Race. A light easterly breeze of about 8 knots and a gentle sea state provided glorious reaching conditions. By morning on the second day, all of the fleet had passed Barbuda - the next land they will see will be Bermuda, over 800 miles north. The wind experienced was more than forecast and this may allow the faster yachts to hook into good pressure further north. The slower yachts might miss the lift in pressure as it goes east away from the race track. The phrase 'rich get richer' would be an apt comment for the leading boats in the Antigua Bermuda Race. However to reach the rich pickings to the north, the fleet need to cross an area of little wind.
At 0900 ADT on Day Two, the Nigel Irens-designed catamaran, Allegra, of the St. Moritz Sailing Club was 800 miles from Bermuda. Watch Captain, Paul Larsen contacted the media team via satellite just before sundown on Day One:
“The view from the nav. office right here, right now is pretty damned nice! The Caribbean sun is closing fast on the horizon to my left and setting over the very low shores of the island of Barbuda. There is a slight swell, but it's comfortable. Scotty is doing some last checks around the deck before darkness sets in. Behind me, Rick is preparing a steak dinner. Everything is golden on board Allegra! We are making about 8.5 knots across this painting and we're grateful for every one of them,” says world speed sailing record holder, Paul Larsen in his blog from on board.
Antigua, May 12, 2017: The inaugural 935 nautical mile Antigua Bermuda Race started on time with the entire fleet getting away without a hitch. A light southerly breeze of 10 knots and warm Antiguan sunshine provided perfect conditions. The variety pack of 21 yachts is an eclectic collection, both in terms of crew and craft. From the majestic schooner, Eleonora to the pocket rocket Pogo 12.50s, and just about everything in between. The fleet includes ocean racers; new and old, as well as bluewater cruisers raced by passionate corinthians. The entire fleet started together and the Antigua Bermuda Race was born.
In the first hour of the race, American Volvo 70, Warrior, skippered by Stephen Murray Jr. had opened up a two mile lead on the chasing Swans, Don Macpherson's Swan 90, Freya and British Swan 82, Stay Calm. The breeze then backed to the east putting the fleet on a beam reach. Freya unleashed their gigantic masthead Code Zero to flash past Warrior who had forsaken their Code Zero and J1 to reduce their rating. Underpowered, Warrior was no match for the additional sail area and waterline length of Freya. Swan 82, Stay Calm was going well and estimated to be leading the race after time correction, for both IRC and CSA, but there is a long way to go. Simon & Nancy De Pietro's Irish CNB 76, Lilla was revelling in the reaching conditions and also going extremely well.
Skippers from boats representing nine different nations competing in the first Antigua Bermuda Race organised by the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club in association with Antigua Sailing Week, gathered together for a race briefing held in the historic restored Officer’s Quarter building at Nelson’s Dockyard where the victor of the battle of Trafalgar, Admiral Lord Nelson was based from 1784 to 1787.
With the intention of making the race into an annual event and a firm fixture on the international sailing calendar, Les Crane, Race Chair and PRO, Stephen Parry welcomed skippers and navigators to the Race Briefing before the start from Fort Charlotte, Antigua on Friday 12th May.
It was then time for everyone to swap stories, get to know each other and relax at the Welcome Party for crews, held on the lawns of the Copper & Lumber Store Hotel overlooking English Harbour. Following a busy day of boat preparation, provisioning and last-minute checks before the 935 nautical mile race, sponsor, Goslings Rum provided a taste of what was to come once in Bermuda. Dark ‘n Stormy and Rum Swizzle cocktails were served to over 230 crews from around the world as a lively band played at the Antigua Bermuda Race Welcome Party. All are looking forward to the race tomorrow and to heading offshore after a fantastic welcome in Antigua.