Solid easterly trade winds and surfing down Atlantic rollers: Windfall, Southern Wind 94 extends her lead
© Puerto Calero/James Mitchell
8. Dezember 2014. In the continued close battle for Line Honours and the IMA Trophy, the Russian Southern Wind 94, Windfall, skippered by Fabrizio Oddone, has extended her lead to over 70 miles on Jeremy Pilkington's RP78, Lupa of London. The Maxi yachts have been experiencing solid easterly trade winds, hitting top boat speed as they shoot down the Atlantic rollers. Both yachts have an asymmetric sail configuration and the apparent wind angle is producing fast reaching conditions in which Windfall's greater waterline length is a big advantage. Windfall is currently expected to make the finish line of Camper and Nicholsons' Port Louis Marina, Grenada, on Wednesday 10th December, with Lupa of London a few hours behind.
Lupa of London, the British canting keel Maxi, is currently estimated to be leading the fleet overall under IRC. However, while light winds are expected as the leaders approach the finish, which could slow their progress, there is also more wind coming for the yachts further back; hence the race for the overall win is far from over.
American Class40 Oakcliff Racing, skippered by Hobie Ponting, is less than 1000 miles from the finish and posing a threat to Lupa of London for the overall win. Oakcliff Racing has been diving south for the last 24 hours and is almost matching the big Maxis for boat speed. Should the breeze go light ahead, Oakcliff Racing may be able to cover more miles than the Maxis and, with a far lower IRC rating, the young team could easily make up the estimated seven hours difference on corrected time. Nigel Passmore's British J/133, Apollo 7 and Aref Lahham's Swan 68, Yacana, are also in contention for overall victory. The two yachts are enjoying the stronger wind building from the east before the yachts ahead of them and both have covered over 200 miles in the last 24 hours.
"Whales and dolphins, stormy seas, loneliness and dark shadows. During the trip you see and feel all those things, whether racing or cruising, but experience shows that your concern is management. A racing team has to know the specific behaviour and the traits of their boat and we need to be working as a team, with each member knowing the specific responsibilities in an instance and achieve the most effective synchronization. Life during the race is focus, focus, focus. Strategy is based on fast decisions; delays mean loss of time and consequently speed. There are many secrets, but combining the weather games with the maximum abilities of your boat and crew gives you the result. Most important for each one of us is to concentrate and disassociate from everything else but the race.
"The management of the hardware is another important task. Things wear much more easily than in coastal sailing and the way you use your spares and accessories are very important. Then there is the management of daily needs: provisions, water for drinking, for showering and cleaning. But isn't it normal? Long-distance ocean voyaging starts and ends with the boat. This is and will be your home regardless, whether you race or cruise, and this is what keeps you moving towards your final destination.
"Ocean crossing is plenty of work, steering, trimming, changing sails, sewing, sticking, splicing, mending, but enough. Back to romance! Yesterday some of us passed an hour watching a whale parallel with our course, blowing every now and then, joined later by a smaller one. So the stories started. It is her baby? Is a couple? They may divorce (oh nonsense). In another instance the reel on the stern pushpit started unwinding.....fish, fish, fish.....excitement. Some dream of a great recipe and cooking of the fresh catch of the day, but disappointment follows when the fish is free after a strong battle. Then loneliness. It is time for serious deep meditation. Each member of the team creates his own world with his own life and experiences. Past, present, future. A mix of feelings and imagination assisted by the numerous sunrises, sunsets and cloud shapes.
"That's it folks, the answer to the question is: "The ocean is beautiful, unique, alive and our passion increases every time we cross it."
The inaugural RORC Transatlantic Race, in association with the International Maxi Association (IMA), started on Sunday 30th December 1000 UTC from Puerto Calero, Lanzarote, Canary Islands bound for Grenada, West Indies, 2,995 nautical miles across the Atlantic Ocean.