Only the second day into the RORC Transatlantic Race and race tactics, unbelievable speed and boat damage have already added to the story. Gonzalo Botin’s Spanish Class 40, Tales II, diverted into Tenerife last night. All four crew are fine but they have sustained damage to their port rudder and need to weld the problem before the Spanish team continue racing. Meanwhile Mike Gascoyne’s British Class 40 Silvi Belle 2 has been eating up the miles. Mike knows all about unplanned pit-stops having spent 30 years in Formula One and expects Tales II to come roaring out of Tenerife. Tales II showed extraordinary pace at the start and will be looking to chase down Silvi Belle 2 once they get back out on the race track.
Despite the northerly route looking to be the most favoured option at the start, the two MOD 70s, Phaedo3 and Concise 10 turned south after passing Tenerife shortly after dusk on the first day, Lloyd Thornburg’s Phaedo3, skippered by Brian Thompson chose a line to stay off Tenerife, whilst Tony Lawson’s Concise 10, skippered by Ned Collier Wakefield gybed south earlier and played the Tenerife coast, presumably looking for acceleration in the wind.
Acceleration is an apt word to describe these two ballistic MOD 70s as both trimarans have averaged over 20 knots and have hit top speeds of over 30 knots. They are likely to have covered an astonishing 600 miles in the first 24 hours. On board it will be full on and whilst the MOD 70s are built to take on the Atlantic Ocean, there are no creature comforts on board and the incessant noise and motion means that sleep is almost impossible.
However, at around 1200 GMT on Day Two the two MOD 70s will negotiate a high pressure ridge located off the West African coast which will slow their progress. The big decision will be when to gybe west. Phaedo3 sporting a new set of sails and a more experienced crew holds a 40 mile advantage and the weather gauge, as they are further west than Concise 10. It will be interesting to see who gybes first and what the reaction will be.
There is a different opinion towards tactics amongst the three powerful Maxis taking part in the RORC Transatlantic Race. Jean-Paul Riviere’s French Finot Conq 100, Nomad IV was in her element last night, blast reaching across to Tenerife in Atlantic swell and by 0900 GMT on Day Two the French Maxi had opened up a 40 mile lead on Southern Wind 94, Windfall, skippered by Irish Olympic sailor Timothy Goodbody. In the early hours of Day Two, Will Apold’s Canadian Swan 78, Valkyrie chose a different option to the other Maxis. Leaving La Palma to starboard, Valkyrie looks to be taking the southerly option chosen by the two MOD 70s. Valkyrie is narrower in the beam than Nomad IV and Windfall and has better upwind performance, especially to her IRC Rating. Perhaps Valkyrie is looking to punch through the high pressure ridge to the south. Their course displayed on the YB Tracker page will reveal all.
Gerald Bibot & Michel Kleinjans contacted the RORC Race Team this morning to report their position by satellite phone from Zed 6. The Belgian catamaran is the most northerly of the fleet and after less than 24 hours racing, there is 300 miles of weather gauge between Zed 6 and the MOD 70s to the south. The two extreme tactics will play out interestingly as their courses converge on the other side of the ocean and time correction is applied for Gerald’s smaller, less powerful boat.