Punching Through the Stream, the Pack Nears Bermuda

Hamilton, Bermuda, June 20, 8AM. By John Rousmaniere. When dawn blessed Bermuda on Monday, Comanche was still a very lonely yacht in the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club marina a full day after the 100-footer’s crew, led by Kenny Read with navigator Stan Honey, broke the course record by nearly 5 hours.

Inisharon under light sails in the 2012 race. (Barry Pickthall/PPL)

Inisharon (seen here in 2012) is one of many boats carrying light sails for much of the race. (Barry Pickthall/PPL)

The Pantaenius Tracker (available on the race website) shows the Hubbard family’s Reichel Pugh 57 Siren as leading a tight clump of boats in the second-to-finish race, some 150 miles from the finish off St. David’s Lighthouse as they enter the long forecast southwest breeze that, after days of sailing  off the wind, will provide a traditional Bermuda Race beat upwind to the finish.

The Gulf Stream crossing has been bouncy for some boats, but it has not been the universal nightmare that some had anticipated back at Newport. “Fantastic ride!,” H.L. DeVore reported late Sunday morning from his navigator’s station in Warrior Won, Christopher Sheehan’s XP44 in the St. David’s Lighthouse Division. “Gorgeous sunny days, porpoises, sailing and friends, what more could you ask for?  We’re in the Gulf Stream. 420 miles to go before Dark’n Stormies in Bermuda!! . . . Had a nice dinner of steak and rice tonight. All is well aboard Warrior Won.”

Mark D’Arcy posted two reports on Sunday from the F&C 44 Inisharon, in the Cruiser Division: “The wind has filled in, sun is out and we have passed our entrance waypoint to the Gulf Stream.  It is a gorgeous day with lots of beautiful boats around us all doing the very same. With the asymmetrical up we are trucking at good speed and Jim at the wheel doing his magic.  Looking at the latest weather, I am hopeful the lulls we experienced are behind us and we expect good breeze all the way in.”

Later Sunday night, Mark told us:  “We have punched through the Gulf Stream and now in smoother water.  The Gulf Stream was a confused sea, but beautiful sailing with consistent breeze around 12-15kts, Inisharon’s sweet spot. Got the crew on the rail, and everyone is very focused on logging the miles. Burritos for dinner this evening, looking forward to those.”

Mark added, “The stream was far less problematic than what was being discussed through the week. White caps, 5-10 feet waves and very easily manageable. Forecasts are just that and with the weather moving around a lot it is difficult to judge.  Nevertheless, it has proved to be delightful sailing. . . . Another beautiful sunset, weather and conditions have been super.”

“We’ll just be older”

For some crews, the biggest problem with the Gulf Stream has been getting into it. A frustrated Chris Museler, in the Swan 44 Aura, emailed us at 1:40 AM Monday after he had a look at data showing wind direction and strength, a reliable profile of area weather. “Hello again John!” Chris wrote with his usual enthusiasm. “The latest GRIB files show a much bigger high we are sitting in than previously thought.  I asked navigator Frank Bohlen if he’s concerned if and how we are going to get to the Stream since we are moving at less than 1 knot. He said yes. Then I asked, ‘Can we get there at this rate?’ He replied, ‘Sure, we’ll just be older when we get there.’”


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