Spindrift Racing into the lead

Krys Ocean Race MOD70s past Newfoundland

Monday July 9th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

The MOD70s competing in their first transatlantic race, the Krys Ocean Race, continue to make excellent progress eastbound across the Atlantic ahead of a cold front with Yann Guichard's crew on Spindrift Racing relieving Groupe Edmond de Rothschild of the lead this morning.

Chart above courtesy of Expedition/Tasman Bay Navigation Systems and GRIB (European model) from PredictWind

Positions at 0630 UTC

Pos Boat Skipper Lat Lon Spd Crs DTF DTL
1 Spindrift Yann Guichard 38 49.000n 052 17.280w 28.8 60 2107.58 0
2 Foncia Michel Desjoyeaux 38 09.310n 052 24.310w 29.8 80 2133.19 25.61
3 Gitana Seb Josse 38 02.580n 052 43.130w 27 60 2149.31 41.73
4 Oman Sail Sidney Gavignet 37 28.430n 053 10.040w 21 83 2185.67 78.08
NL Race for Water Steve Ravussin            

At the latest sched the Krys Ocean Race leaders have passed the longitude of the eastern end of Newfoundland - not bad after a day and a half at sea having left New York on Saturday. However in an attempt to stay ahead of a cold front associated with the depression to the northwest of Newfoundland, they had erred a long way south relative to the great circle and so overnight, still in a very favourable band of 25-30 knot southwesterlies, they have had to turn their bows north slightly, although they will have to continue to stay on a mostly westerly course or they risk the front overtaking them.

Overnight there has been a change of lead with the Michel Desjoyeaux-skippered Foncia pulling in front of Groupe Edmond de Rothschild at the 1830 sched with Spindrift Racing into first place at the next one three hours later, although thanks to how far they have strayed from the great circle at present it is more a case of 'he who is furthest north leads'.

Spindrift skipper Yann Guichard reported: "It's wet, very wet! We spent a good first part night, but it's hard to keep high speeds without risk due to the waves, because the sea is rough... We are into our rhythm, but it's not easy to sleep because there are no berths in the stern and the boat is shaking a lot. There are a few small squalls indicates on the radar and right now we have 32 knots of true wind but there are less nasty gusts and it's less stressful."

While the boats are attempting to stay in the favourable band of southwesterlies ahead of the front, the front itself is shifting east but the major obstacle ahead is the Azores high, currently centred some 900 miles due east of them at the latest sched. At present (as the chart above indicates) this is extending a long way north, however with the depression over the Ladbrador Sea intensifying and extending its reach further out into the Atlantic so the high is being compressed from the northwest allowing the boats to take a route around the top of the high, about one third of the way north between the Azores and the great circle. This route is much longer than the great circle and will leave the boats dead downwind mid-week requiring the boats to gybe down the band of southwesterlies that still fortuitously seem to terminate exactly in Brest, the finish port... Aside from the high the only possible meteological hurdle seems to be a secondary depression, spawned by the cold front that may catch up with the boats later in the week.

For the rest of the week the Krys Ocean Race looks set to be a brutal but exhilarating downwind rollercoaster ride.


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