Lighter winds on the racecourse put the clubhouse leaders in a strong position to win their divisions. By John Burnham
Five fast race boats between 62 and 88 feet long were docked in Hamilton Harbour, Bermuda, on Monday morning, waiting to see if their smaller competitors would finish fast enough to displace them as the leaders when handicaps were applied. In the Gibbs Hill Division, Wizard held the lead, having sailed the course in 55:37:02. In the Multihull Division, Elvis had finished in 63:25:32.
As the day went on, both were looking more and more comfortable in their pole positions. The next Gibbs Hill contender on the course as of 1700 EDT was Spookie, Steve Benjamin’s TP 52, still 58.6 miles from the finish line. The next Multihull entry was Tribe, another Gunboat 62, 126.5 miles away and moving at only 6.3 knots.
Wizard owners Dave and Peter Askew have made quite an impact on the offshore racing scene in the last several months. Wizard is the former Groupama, which won the Volvo Ocean Race in 2011-12. “We bought the boat in Australia in the fall and thought it was real dumb if we didn’t do the Sydney Hobart,” said Dave, “so we did, and won it [Division 0], which was a kind of shocker for both of us.”
Watch captain Chris Larson said, “Navigator Matt Humphreys did a fantastic job of setting us up the first night on the west side of the fleet. We were expecting a west shift, and we got more pressure, too.” As the fleet entered the Gulf Stream, Larson said that Warrior, which is a modified Volvo 70, crossed astern of Wizard while Rambler 88 jibed, only a couple miles ahead of them. Rambler extended their lead, and the lighter Warrior passed Wizard closer to Bermuda, but the Askew brothers’ boat stayed close enough to gain the corrected-time lead.
Jason Carroll’s Elvis led the Multihull division from the start but was initially in fairly close contact with the other two multihulls, Tribe and Arethusa, a Gunboat 62 and 60, respectively. Elvis found a little more breeze on Saturday afternoon, though, and built a good lead that turned into a total breakaway on Sunday when the trailing boats were trapped by the expanding high pressure zone.
Elvis blew up the same sail twice during the race, but apparently the extra effort was worth it. “We like to just push it a little, and it’s nice to go quick,” said crew member Alister Richardson. “I loaded the A2 a little bit too much, it popped once, we repaired it, and then I was sailing with it for another hour and then I broke it again after 4 hours of repairing.”