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Spirit of Bermuda keeping up the pace

Two reports have been received by the Bermuda Sloop Foundation from the Spirit of Bermuda coming home in the inaugural 935-mile race from Antigua to Bermuda. The race started yesterday at noon off of English Harbour. Speculators around the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club last night predicted first finishers by Tuesday. What wind the sailors find in the middle third of the course will rule.

Today at noon, Spirit of Bermuda reported her distance to Go at 783.3nm and her distance travelled towards Bermuda: 149.2nm. Their average speed was 7.1ktsd covering 164.4nm in 24-hours since the start

They sailed for 14 hrs 40 min, but due to total lack of wind for a long period chose to motor for 9 hrs 20 min

Captain Mike Moreland reported the conditions at noon to be clear skies, long three-foot swell, wind East by North at 8 kts.

“Light winds prevailed through the last 24 hours with a stretch of virtually no wind from 0200 until 1100 today,” Moreland wrote. ”We were forced to motor for this time, but it does not hurt us too much for the overall race time. Now, the crew is learning how to trim and steer to the spinnaker, finding the sweet spot where our boat speed can match the wind speed.”

“A few small fish have been brought over the rail but nothing worth keeping, let them grow big enough for the next boat.”

“The big schooner yacht Eleonora is off our beam about 7nm distant, heading a bit more to the west then us.”

“Myriam and Sandy continue put out great meals and all hands are getting into the rhythm of shipboard life.”

In the Day 1 race update Moreland wrote: “After a great month or so of sailing and exploring the islands of the Caribbean, Spirit of Bermuda cast off her docklines from her stern-to berth at Sir Hugh Bailey's Catamaran Marina in Falmouth Harbour at 0930, Friday May 12th.”

“The Antigua Bermuda race organisers threw a very nice Gosling's Dark and Stormy party on the lawn of the historic Dockyard in English Harbour on Wednesday which gave all the crew a chance to meet and catch up with the few hundred other crew participating in this inaugural race. Thankfully, the party was held on Wednesday as Thursday came in a little rough in more ways than one.”

“On Thursday, a large trough of rainy, squally weather had swept down from the north and gave Antigua torrential rains and fresh wind from nearly every direction. But by morning muster on Friday, the clouds had just about cleared leaving sunny skies but also very little wind to speak of. Hot and humid with no breeze, we steamed out of Falmouth Harbour and set full sail to begin the starting sequence at 1200.”

“Luckily, there was just enough wind, about 6-8 kts offshore to get Spirit moving and the start of the race went off without a hitch. SPIRIT was close by our main competition, the classic 162 foot Herreshof schooner, Eleonora.”

“All 21 of the boats in the race sailed close hauled to the south and then to the east of Antigua with nearly everyone deploying their light wind spinnakers once free and clear of the island.

With the skill of our well-trained crew, Spirit put up her now famous spinnaker which gave us a nice boost in speed.”

“The wind stayed fairly steady 6-8 kts for the rest of the day and evening as Spirit sailed due north to Bermuda. At several times we were matching the wind speed with our boat speed. 7 kts of true wind and 7 kts over the ground, not bad for a 100-ton schooner.”

“Everyone seems to be settling into shipboard life and helping out all around and friendly chatter is flying around with ease. Tomorrow's forecast calls for even lighter winds but until then we have a sweet and easy 8 kts of true wind on our beam and the black seal spinnaker pulling us along back home.”

Les Crane, skipper of the Bermuda boat Monteray, a Farr Pilothouse 56 that has been sailing as well as using the motoring allowance rule, has been active on the race's blog link. He reported, “Monterey- Skating along SE 8 flat sea, lots of stars amid thin cloud. Great start. Boats at the pin could nearly fetch the SE corner of Antigua. Moderate SE wind and flat seas made it one of the nicest afternoons in 10 days.”

“We overtook the two Whitbread 60's to leeward before the corner then tried our code zero that we had been playing with for several days. It was the wrong sail, but it was on deck and we wanted to try the furler out. Got it down, but took quite a bit of time getting the symmetrical up which surrendered our early gains. Wind softened and we were down to 2 knots.

We had always assumed we would need to motor at some point and would drop out of IRC so we decided there was no reason to wait. Sent a message to RaceMgt and fired up the iron genny. An hour later the wind had filled in and we were back sailing. Beautiful moonrise as we skate along at 5 knots.”

Boats in all divisions except IRC may use auxiliary propulsion during the race. They have to keep a log of their usage. The aggregate time motoring is multiplied by a Race Factor postred in the Sailing Instructions and added to their base time on the course which will then be adjusted by their rating.

Crane's next message from Monterey was: “Floating on glass. Wind North at 2kts, Flat sea. Scattered clouds. Wind dropped out at midnight ADT. Motoring in glassy seas. Bright moon. Venus rose at 4:10 and is brilliant.

They later added, “Sliding along again, wind East at 8kts, sea flat, clear sky. Breeze filled in around 7:30 ADT. Code 0 up and we're sliding up the rumb line at 5.6 knots. We had passed Freya while motoring, but she is reeling us in now. Our stereo will be louder than hers.”

Aboad Freya, one of the race leaders, her full-time captain Bermudian Joph Carter worte, “Very frustrating night for team Freya last night. As you can probably tell its light out here. After passing Barbuda we had 10-12 knts out of 130-160.”

“Around midnight the breeze started to lift into the 180s and dropped down to 5kts. We gybed at 0100 onto port hoping to get back into the breeze. But it was apparent that it was total shut down everywhere.”

“We dropped the kite around 0430 and flopped around until the breeze has now filled in from 070 at about 6 knots. Currenetly sailing at 330 at 7knts with main and Code Zero. We have yet to turn on our engine, unlike half of the fleet... are we in a motor boat race or sailboat race?”

“Despite a tough night, George is making some banging bacon and egg sandwiches to keep moral up. Perhaps the smell of them will slow the petrol heads down.”

Race Day 1 Recap:

The Antigua Bermuda Race fleet enjoyed beautiful conditions for the first day and night. A light easterly breeze of about 8 knots and a gentle sea state provided glorious reaching conditions. By morning on the second day, all of the fleet had passed Barbuda - the next land they will see will be Bermuda, over 800 miles north.

The wind experienced was more than forecast and this may allow the faster yachts to hook into good pressure further north. The slower yachts might miss the lift in pressure as it goes east away from the race track. The phrase ‘rich get richer' would be an apt comment for the leading boats in the Antigua Bermuda Race. However, to reach the rich pickings to the north, the fleet need to cross an area of little wind.

At 0900 ADT on Day Two, the Nigel Irens-designed catamaran, Allegra, of the St. Moritz Sailing Club was 800 miles from Bermuda. Watch Captain, Paul Larsen contacted the media team via satellite just before sundown on Day One:

“The fact is that we've had more wind than we expected since the start, having thought it would be a very light weather affair. Seeing as some of the crew have appointments set in stone, that can't be missed - family wedding, weirdly not planned around a sailing race! - the decision was made to fill Allegra with fuel after the last weather forecast before the start. The weight equivalent of two Harley-Davidsons was parked/loaded into the tanks,” says Larsen.

“The wind we have now is not as forecast and we only have to do these speeds for a couple of days to be out of trouble time-wise. Then the pressure is off... and the longer showers and even a little air conditioning action is all back on. Typically people like to see hardened sailors suffering and battling away for every rugged mile. Thankfully, not all sailing is like that, and certainly not what this boat is about. No, from where I'm sitting now it's not about that at all... although, wait. Damn, a low cloud on the horizon, so no green flash. Can't have it all eh?”

“We're already well ahead of the predicted routing, but of course it's early days and this can change. It will be interesting to see how Stay Calm fairs going to the west of Barbuda. Nav. lights are going on and dinner is about to be served. A very full moon should be rising shortly. What a great way to get to Bermuda. So far so good.”

Last night, three competing yachts decided to round the windward side of Barbuda: Swan 82, Stay Calm, Carl Soares' Paradise 60, Morning Star from Bermuda and Tim Wilson's 1973 Australian ketch, El Oro. The British Swan 82, Stay Calm looks to have found a significant advantage by taking the route, passing Stephen Murray Jr.'s Volvo 70, Warrior, shortly before dawn this morning.

This is the first offshore race for the US Merchant Marine Academy's Volvo 70, donated by the Murray Family to promote Warrior Sailing, a program to assist wounded veterans in their recovery through the sport of sailing.

One of the other smaller yachts in the race is Jeremi Jablonski's Hanse 43, Avanti, representing Cedar Point YC, Connecticut USA. Avanti, racing with three crew on board and is currently second after IRC time correction: “Seven knots of wind and sailing the rhumb line. We are enjoying every minute of it!” reported Avanti's, Jeremi Jablonski who has sailed her to the Caribbean for the last five seasons from her home port.

Three yachts have declared using their engine for propulsion and have retired from IRC, but are still racing under the CSA Rating Rule with a penalty to come: Les Crane's Farr PH 56, Monterey, Schooner Eleonora and John Marshall's Oyster 65, Rock Oyster.

Spirited effort: Spirit of Bermuda has made a strong start

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Published May 13, 2017 at 8:48 pm (Updated May 13, 2017 at 8:53 pm)

Spirit of Bermuda keeping up the pace

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