NEWPORT, R.I. - For the last three days the frontrunners in the Transatlantic Race 2019 have been striding across the North Atlantic at 20-plus-knot speeds, eating up the miles to Cowes in the strong southerlies - exactly the dramatic conditions and high octane experience their crews signed up for.
Sadly, the big speeds and ‘yeehaa’ moments are soon to come to an end for the two frontrunners, David and Peter Askew’s VO70 Wizard and Lee Seng Huang's 100-foot maxi SHK Scallywag, at least. Already this morning, Wizard’s boatspeed had dropped from 20 knots to 15.
The reason for this slow-down is a ridge of high pressure centred off the west of Ireland that lies in their path. As Wizard’s navigator Will Oxley described it: “Wind speed is dropping, the sky is clearing and the barometer is rising. The sleigh ride is coming to an end and now it’s back to tactical sailing. The trick is to get into the high enough to use its shape to get a nice lift on the exit, while keeping enough windspeed to keep moving. Sometimes it feels a bit like Icarus - making sure we don’t fly too close to the sun (read ‘high’).”
On Saturday, Wizard, the canting keel VO70 that won the 2011-’12 Volvo Ocean Race as Groupama 4, hooked onto a low-pressure system delivering strong southerly winds between 25 and 40 knots, and took off like a bat out of hades.
Wizard put up a 24-hour run of 492 nautical miles between 1230 UTC from Sunday to today. At today’s 1400 UTC position report Wizard had 1,196 nautical miles to the finish in Cowes, Isle of Wight, England.
“We’ve had an awesome past few days,” said navigator Will Oxley. “We’ve been staying on the low. It’s been quite wet and squally. We sailed a conservative plan for a day or two, but now we’re going to back to full noise. The breeze is down to 20 knots and there aren’t any squalls, so we’re able to use the full sail plan.”
Blogs from the Boats
- 2019 Corrected Finish Times
- Finish Photo Gallery
- SHK Scallywag finish photos
- Wind Conditions Enroute
- Photo Galleries
- Tracking & Media Information Sheet
- TR2019 Sat Phone List
- TR2019 Competitor Bulletin #5
- Final Sailing Instructions
- Scratch Sheet
- Yacht Club Trophy Entry List
- Social Ticket Reservation Form
- Notice of Race Incorporating Amendements 1 & 2