Antigua Bermuda Race under way
The Antigua Bermuda Race fleet set off yesterday from Fort Charlotte, Antigua.
Brilliant sunshine and 20 knots trade winds combined to produce spectacular conditions for the international fleet.
Close to a hundred sailors from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Britain, Hong Kong, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Russia, and the United States are taking part in the 935 nautical-mile offshore race from Antigua to Bermuda.
A highly competitive start featured a yachts hugging the rugged coastline of south Antigua, making gains from the lifting pressure rolling down the cliffs.
The 100ft canting keel flyer SHK Scallywag, of Hong Kong, got away to a cracking start, as did Gilles Barbot’s Volvo 60 Esprit de Corps IV, of Canada.
At Green Island the fleet eased sheets, hoisting downwind sails and accelerating into a power reach that should last for at least more than 300 miles. According to weather forecasts, they are in for a spectacular treat of superb sailing on a beam reach in tropical heat, surfing through the Atlantic Ocean.
Just perfect conditions,” Les Crane, Antigua Bermuda race chairman, said. “Once again Antigua has been a spectacular venue for the start. We had a great party in Nelson’s Dockyard last night hosted by Goslings Rum and Bermuda Tourism Authority.
“There is always anticipation before the start, so it is good to see them all get away to a clean start. Safety is the primary concern and all of boats have the designated safety equipment for the race, as well as satellite tracking.
“The Race Committee in Antigua, led by Stephen Parry did a great job, and we wish all of the teams a safe and enjoyable race. A warm welcome awaits them at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.”
Three hours into the race and all of the yachts were hitting double-digit speed, blasting through two-metre waves in 29 degrees air temperature.
Supermaxi SHK Scallywag skippered by David Witt, of Australia, passed Barbuda to starboard, covering over 50 miles in the first three hours. Afansay Isaev’s Maxi Weddell, of Russia, and Esprit de Corps IV, of Canada, split paths to round different sides of Barbuda and were 20 miles behind the leader.
On corrected time, Lombard 46 Pata Negra, of Britain, was the early leader in the IRC Division and Carlo Falcone’s 1938 yawl Mariella was going well in the CSA Class.
“We are racing and that’s an Open 40 behind us,” said Meg Reilly, of the US, co-skipper on Pogo 12.50 Hermes.
“We have just finished the upwind leg around Antigua and have cracked off towards Bermuda.”
All of the teams racing in the Antigua Bermuda Race are expected to pass Barbuda before dusk; the next land they will lay eyes will likely be Gibbs Hill Lighthouse after close to 1,000 miles of Atlantic Ocean Racing.
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