Reports from Boats, June 24

June 24, 10 a.m. Bermuda Time. We have news from Spirit of Bermuda, Shockwave, and Gryphon Solo 2  following these reports:

Recent Withdrawals:  Shine, owned by Giles Redpath, and Terrapin, owned by Jonathan Litt, have withdrawn due to scheduling obligations.  All are well and the boats are proceeding to Bermuda.

The following boats have withdrawn as of Tuesday morning: Toothface 2 (proceeding to the U.S.), Next Boat (proceeding to the U.S.), Happy Valley (proceeding to the U.S.),  Wandrian (proceeding to Bermuda), Shine (proceeding to Bermuda), Terrapin (proceeding to Bermuda).

Spirit of Bermuda, From Navigator Larry Rosenfeld, Monday afternoon

Spirit f Bermuds like other boats had a few moments like this in the race, only not enough of them.

Spirit of Bermuda, like other boats ,had a few moments like this in the race, only not enough of them.

Sitting here… Another windless patch… We prayed to the wind gods, got everyone forward and to leeward. Spencer had to bribe a bunch of his mates to pull him up the mast to look for wind. All of a sudden the dolphins showed up with the wind. Here we go – 2 kts, 4 kts, 6kts, and now 8 kts. Jim is on the helm watching his son twirl around the shroud and now the dolphins see the interest in a boat actually moving so they all play around the bow while the whole crew is up on the bow taking pictures and enjoying the show.

The tactics for this race are relatively simple. Jenifer Clark helped us (along with many others) map out the Gulf Stream. We have it on a laminated chart in the main salon for all to talk about at meal time. It was just like pin ball. We hit the top of the first clockwise warm eddy and got a nice 2 knot push in the right direction for 40 miles. Then we cut through the Gulf Stream core perpendicular to it, avoiding the counter current of the north flowing stream. Next we ricocheted off the counter-clockwise cold eddy and have been riding that and the little spur that flowed out of it for more than 100 miles, sometimes we got up to 3.5 knots but now it’s nearly run its course and down to a ½ knot of favorable current.

This is my 20th race and I swear it’s the most boats I’ve seen on a continuous basis in all the races I’ve done. Maybe it’s the AIS system keeping all the boats together with a herd instinct or maybe it’s just that there has been little beating where people would spread out on different tacks. We always seem to be in sight of about 6 boats.

The weather forecasts have been consistently variable. Yesterday’s showed a low that came out from Hatteras that was squished between the Azores high and another low up near the Great Lakes. That would have meant a nice quick transition from the Easterlies at the top of the low to the SW winds in the bottom half of the elongated low, like two trains passing on the tracks. This morning’s early forecast showed a widen low with two centers (a double yolk low) and that means a longer time in light northerlies while waiting to transition from the Easterlies to the SW winds. The mid-day forecast shows a wide area from Bermuda to Newport to Hatteras without a single isobar! That means light air all around from any direction. So we sit and we wait… looking for the next squall and the wind on the edges….

We’re all having a great time enjoying each other’s company and reflective time at sea. 

From Shockwave, notes from an interview with “straticision” Robbie Doyle

If there was a key moment, it was when they decided on the second night that the weather had stabilized, and opted not to shoot corners looking for predicted currents or wind, but to play the middle tactically. Robbie summarized the problem (which is faced by all  boats) this way:  “When do you stop discussing it and actually head toward Bermuda?” Jibing or tacking on shifts, they caught Bella Mente.  Once ahead, Shockwave stayed in front of her all the way to Bermuda.

Robbie Doyle after Shockwave finished. (Barry Pickthall/PPL)

Robbie Doyle as Shockwave docked at RBYC. (Barry Pickthall/PPL)

Despite the forecast for rough weather in the Stream, the most wind they had was 27 knots while nearing the finish.  Most boats have reported a few strong squalls or local winds, and short-lived periods of high boat speed. Steering was relatively simple except when the wind and currents were contrary and stirred up a steep chop.

The most reliable source of weather information sometimes was not GRIB files or forecasts, but “looking out the window” to study the pattern of clouds, including satellite imagery.

Robbie stressed that Shockwave and Bella Mente are sailing better than ever because they race each other so often, including the 2012 and 2014 Bermuda Races and the RORC Caribbean 600, etc.  They and the third “mini-maxi” 72-footer, Caol Il Racing, go by ship to Majorca for a series, and then to the Maxi worlds.  – John Rousmaniere 

From Gryphon Solo 2, Joe Harris, Monday

We continue to face challenging weather conditions with squalls, rain and then long periods of light and variable winds. We are still 220 miles out from Bermuda and the forecast calls for continued light winds around frontal activity.


That Dark and Stormy I was thinking I was having tomorrow may be delayed. My wife Kim is flying to Bermuda today so I guess shewill be entertained by the boys on the big boats who have already arrived at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. . . so I got that going for me. Last night was a true study in contrasts as on my watch the wind blew up to 20 knots in heavy rain and squally conditions and we were flying along at 12 knots. Just as Rob came up to relieve me at 3:00 a.m., the winds shut down under some big gnarly clouds and we spent about an hour together trying to keep the boat going in confounding wind conditions. I finally went below as I could not stay awake and had managed to slip while changing a sail on the foredeck and banged up my leg a bit. Nothing serious, but I was out on my feet and needed a break. Rob struggled for three hours and came off watch completely burned out as well.

Gryphon Solo 2 at the June 20 start. (Talbot Wilson/PPL)

Gryphon Solo 2 at the June 20 start. (Talbot Wilson/PPL)

So here we are on Monday, day 3, hoping the wind holds and we can make some progress but looking at a forecast that says otherwise, so girding ourselves for the challenge. Quitting and motoring in is probably not an option for us as we don’t have a lot of diesel fuel and we are still pretty far out. So we have to work hard and stick and stay and make it pay. Rob is an incredibly had worker so he is my inspiration. The “No Whining Rule” is in full force and effect and violators will face serious consequences.

So that’s about it from our little floating eco-system in the middle of a great big eco-system.




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