Rambler cruising through the fleet
The maxis in the Transatlantic Race 2011 that set off from Newport, RI, on Sunday are already eating their way through the slower boats in the fleet. Early yesterday evening George David's line honours race favourite Rambler 100 passed the ice waypoint 'Point Alpha' to the southeast of Newfoundland and at the latest sched, at 0830 GMT this morning, was trundling along at 23.9 knots with 1521 miles. The Juan K-designed supermaxi has overhauled the Class 40 Dragon that started four days before her and is about to pass the IRC2 tailender, the Simonis-Voogt designed 54 footer Prodigy.
“Great sailing, so far, aboard Rambler 100,” reported Rambler's navigator Peter Isler yesterday. “By our calculations we did a 464 mile 24 hour run from the start. That's a 19.3 knot average! Great sailing for sure. We've had basically the same sail combination up since turning the corner at Nantucket Shoals.”
But the real surprise, given that she is some 30ft shorter than the supermaxis, is the performance of Ken Read's Puma-backed mar mostro. At the latest sched the big cat-emblazoned VO70 is just 76 miles behind Rambler (although this figure in reality is more like 120 as the polling didn't take place at the same time) and 68 miles in front of ICAP Leopard and in turn 144 miles ahead of Karl Kwok's potent Farr 80 Beau Geste. Under IRC, despite the VO70 being nailed with her stacking, canting keel, etc, it is mar mostro that is leading not just IRC One but the race overall...
At the chartlette above shows, at present the maxi leaders are basking in the 20+ knot southwesterlies between the Azores high and a depression currently centred over the Labrador Sea. Over the course of the next 24 hours for the maxi leaders the wind will veer into the west and come tomorrow evening Rambler's rapid progress east will slow as she encounters the ridge between the depression and a second depression situated over the UK, currently bringing today's July showers...
In IRC Class Two, the front-runner is Chris Bull's Cookson 50 Jazz, skippered by Nigel King which is on a course just north of the great circle, astern of the Class Three leader Huntington Sheldon's Reichel Pugh 65 Zaraffa with her all-star cast of Volvo crewmen. Meanwhile in Class Four Rives Potts' McCurdy & Rhodes 48 Carina is leading with 1257 miles between her and the Lizard at 0900. She, along with the majority of boats in IRC4, have chosen to go 'the pretty way', substantially south of the great circle in more clement conditions.
From on board Jazz, Maltese sailor Christian Ripard reported: “Life onboard is going well and the boat is looking tidy and shipshape which makes all the difference. Our food is good, considering it’s freeze-dried, but already, after six days, I look forward to eating some fresh salad or something with a bit more crunch to it. WOW! Just got a call on deck, we just missed a huge whale by 50 feet. Last night was pretty crazy too....bombing down waves at 20 knots in thick fog with NO visibility is pushing one’s fate. My wife Jackie is probably right in thinking that anyone in his right mind doing this is fit for the loony bin. Sometimes I think she’s right.....but, actually experiencing this sort of stuff is somewhat overwhelming and beautiful."Hearing the snoring of the off-watch crew is also something which I come out here time after time to find comforting....knowing that you can go to sleep and truly trust that the guys on deck will keep you safe.... that’s something we sailor’s have.... a bond very difficult to find when one is on dry land..... So back to my call of duty on deck, Mike Broughton wants to get back on his nav table to check our progress and work on our next move... bring it on!”
Between the two Class 40s, the Ned Collier-Wakefield skippered Concise holds a 113 mile lead over Mike Hennessy's Dragon. Hennessy reported: “Dragon passed the longitude of Point Alpha and now the next mark of the course is Lizard Point, a mere 1800 miles down the road. Funny enough, our entire race thus far has been within about 100 miles of land. Now we are heading off into that big open space in between, the wild blue yonder. See you on the other side.”
In the 'Open class', the race between the Gunboat 66 Phaedo and the monstrously sized Maltese Falcon is turning out to be a surprisingly good one. At the latest sched Phaedo is 43 miles ahead of her 289ft long rival, which the crew on board the cat have been comparing to the 1978 Route du Rhum, when famously Mike Birch's tincy trimaran overhauled Mike Malinovsky's maxi-monohull within sight of the finish line. At present Phaedo is leading the race on the water in the Transatlantic Race with 1230 miles left to go to the Lizard.
See the race tracker here