Photo: Andres Soriano / Neutrogena

Settling into life on the Atlantic

Safran edges ahead in the IMOCA Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race

Monday June 2nd 2014, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

After departing New York and the metropolis of Manhattan less than 24 hours ago, the doublehanded crews in the IMOCA Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race have been easing themselves back into life on the ocean, attempting to settle into a routine on board, while all the time trying to push their boats to the utmost to get ahead of the competition.

While Spirit of Hungary started the race yesterday, she has since suspended racing and has returned to North Cove Marina to carry out some vital repairs after only arriving in New York on Saturday following her maiden voyage across the Atlantic to the start.

Since Hugo Boss led past the Ambrose Light at the exit to New York Harbour yesterday afternoon, the four remaining IMOCA 60s have turned their bows east and the French crew of Marc Guillemot and Morgan Lagraviere aboard Safran have moved in front. They split slightly further north towards the Long island shore yesterday afternoon where they found better sea breeze enabling them to pull out a lead of almost five miles overnight.

Guillemot, an offshore veteran who has been racing in these waters for more than 30 years, described the conditions: “The wind is light, but we have to deal with that. For the moment we are doing pretty well regarding our position, but we still need to push hard given what we have got for wind. Otherwise everything is okay on board.

"We exited the Hudson River quite well, slowly coming back on Hugo Boss. We made some good manoeuvres and sails choices - it was quite easy in the light wind and we didn't need to use the water ballast.”

The tracking for the boats shows them having sailed an erratic course overnight as in the light conditions they have struggled to hang on to any breeze they can find. As Neutrogena co-skipper Guillermo Altadill described it: “We got light wind from behind all night. It builds and falls all the time - quite unstable.”

However earlier this morning the boats began to pick up the first northeasterlies associated with a significant low pressure system off to their southeast and as a result have turned a sharp right to make best use of the building breeze.

Among the group, Anna Corbella and Gerard Marin, aboard Gaes Centros Auditivos, split south last night and as a result were the first to get into this new breeze. Marin explained their approach: "The start was very tough, because we had to tack a lot. Since then we took a slightly different route to the rest. We’ll have to wait to see that works out, but we think it is a good idea.”

Mid-afternoon today (European time) and the boats are some 80-100km due south of Newport, Rhodes Island still heading south. Later this afternoon they will gybe east into the northwest quadrant of the depression where the wind is forecast to built to more than 30 knots.

Hugo Boss’ American co-skipper Ryan Breymaier explained the tactic: “We need to get into the depression to find good wind and then when we get close to the centre, we’ll tack and head back out of it on the other side.”

Otherwise on board Hugo Boss, the first night was a tough one. Breymaier continued: “It was quite light for a lot of it. We haven’t had a lot of sleep but it’s been pretty decent. We’ve had a close fight with these other boats. Safran got a little way ahead of us in the afternoon because they went closer to the shore than we did. Since then we have been pushing hard to get back to them. At one point they were five miles ahead and now that’s down to three.”

Breymaier admitted that a wrong choice of sail had cost them 0.5 miles.

The next 24 hours are set to be among the most tactical in the IMOCA Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race at the same time as the crews are preparing for the first bad weather of the race as they close on the depression.


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