RORC Transatlantic Race: Trade winds kick in

Grenada, Day 14: With over 30 knots of trade winds in the Atlantic, the 15 teams still racing in the RORC Transatlantic Race have seen a rapid rise in boat speed towards Grenada and a further two boats are expected in today.

The latest yachts to finish are the Volvo 70 HYPR (ESP) skippered by Jens Lindner, along with Halvard Mabire’s ORC50 GDD (FRA) – Mabire racing two-handed with Miranda Merron.

Lady First III (FRA) and Tonnerre de Glen (FRA) are expected today local time and Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina has the beers on ice for every team’s arrival.

The modified Volvo 70 HYPR is the fifth maxi to finish, completing the course in an elapsed time of 12 days 8 hrs 29 mins and 48 secs. The crew of 16, included the youngest competitor in the race, Filip Henriksson. The 18-year-old’s parents flew to Grenada to congratulate him, and his mother was given the honour of calling the finish time by RORC Race Officer, Steve Cole.

HYPR’s Jens Lindner spoke dockside: “Our finish time is very disappointing for us because the first night we broke the tack line of our A3, so we couldn’t use the sail anymore. This was to affect our whole race. Without the A3, we couldn’t really go up north, so we tried to wiggle through the high-pressure, but didn’t manage to keep up the speed and lost touch with our competition.

Orcc 50 GDD at the start – James Mitchell pic

“With five professional and 11 Corinthian crew, the important goal was to get here safety, and we’ve done that. I think they have all had a great experience and they will be back next year. For the RORC Caribbean 600 we will be stronger with a professional crew and hope to be really competitive. We’re very happy to be in Grenada and have had a nice welcome here.”

Halvard Mabire’s GDD finished in an elapsed time of 12 days 15 hours 45 mins 35 secs. Racing with Miranda Merron, GDD is the first two-handed team to finish the race. Mabire hopes to qualify for this year’s Route du Rhum and this race provided valuable qualifying miles and the opportunity to test the brand-new boat.

“GDD is very comfortable, perfect for an old man like me to race in the Route du Rhum solo,” joked Mabire. “She flies a hull easily and at times in the race we were very fast. We have also found a few areas to work on, especially the helm, but this has been a great opportunity.”

His crew, Merron is returning to Atlantic racing having completed the Vendée Globe on her IMOCA 60. The two are no strangers to Grenada, as they were the first two-handed team to finish the race in 2016 with their Class40, Campagne de France.

Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron – first two-handed to finish – Louay Habib, RORC pic

“This race has been quite challenging for just two people, but also quite rewarding,” Merron said. “Both Halvard and I are delighted to be back in Grenada. Since racing here in 2016 we’ve returned a few times. We’re thrilled to be here. We’ve made friends over the years and we are really looking forward to catching up with them and visiting this beautiful island again.”

On Day 14 of the RORC Transatlantic Race, two more teams are expected to finish. Jean Pierre Dreau’s Mylius 60 Lady First III (FRA) will be the sixth maxi to finish and the first boat from the Yacht Club de France.

Dominique Tian’s Ker 46 Tonnerre de Glen (FRA) is on course to claim third place in IRC Zero. The two French teams have had a fierce but friendly battle for thousands of miles. Both teams were virtually level on the water as they approached Barbados, 150 miles from the finish.

Tonnerre de Glen chose to pass to the north of Barbados and Lady First III to the south. Now, with just a few hours of the race remaining, it is impossible to tell which yacht will cross the line first.

Tonnerre de Glen is on course to claim third in IRC Zero – James Mitchell, RORC pic

IRC One into big breeze
Reports of over 30 knots of trade winds are making for a very fast finish for the teams racing in IRC One. Ross Applebey’s Oyster 48, Scarlet Oyster (GBR), is ranked first in class and is 483 miles from Grenada.

Jack Pelletier’s Milon 41, L’Ange de Milon (FRA), leads the class on the water with 367 miles to go, and is ranked second after IRC time correction. Richard Palmer, racing two-handed on his JPK 1010 Jangada (GBR) with Jeremy Waitt, is ranked third in IRC One. Jangada has 642 miles to go, or to put it into perspective, roughly the same distance left as a Rolex Fastnet Race, after 14 days of racing.

Pelletier said from on board Jangada: “The past 24 hours have been lively, gybing downwind, picking up shifts between the clouds and gusts of up to 30 knots and rain.

“Jangada remains fast but safe and manageable in the stronger winds. We are disappointed to see that our rivals are pulling ahead. Sadly, for us, they simply seem to have more breeze, judging by the boat speeds, and we are struggling to keep up. On a positive note, we have been treated to some spectacular rainbows.”

From aboard the Volvo 60, Challenge Ocean, skippered by Valdo Dhoyer came: “A night of long knives for this 13th night racing. The trade wind is in, with 30/35 knots from the east and a swell of 4-6 metres.

“Hurtling through the Atlantic swell, the speed dial goes crazy with the adrenaline rising: 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 knots. You have to hold on, keep the boat on course, with a fine line at the risk of broaching. Less than 400 miles remain. Finishing is the crew’s first objective. The rest will just be bonus.”

For regular updates including satellite tracking go to: http://www.rorctransatlantic.rorc.org

Louay Habib/RORC

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