Eight hours into the 2020 Online Newport Bermuda Race, boats in each of the four divisions have fanned out across the course, with many navigators sticking close to the rhumbline and others footing for speed, 10 to 20 miles to the east. But in each grouping, several bold moves have been made to sail much farther east, betting that they will make up the extra distance sailed due to stronger winds over the next few days.
Leaders in each division – those with the shortest distance to go to the finish – are boats that have sailed slightly low and faster than those sailing on the rhumbline, with Guadalete of Spain leading the Double-Handed Division. Scott Bearse/Slide Rule, a US boat and Sailonline.org regular, leads the St. David’s Lighthouse Division, also having sailed about 10 miles east of the rhumb.
In the Finisterre cruising class, 12 miles east of the rhumbline, the leader is Erik Haaland/Thunder86, which is the Italia Yachts/David Walters Yachts factory team, sponsor of the division. On a similar track and vying for first in fleet overall and the lead in the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Division are three Xp 55’s—Maxwell Bearse/mbearse217, Jack Watson/captjack1942 and Klyvarn.
(Note that we can’t report skipper names for boats that haven’t registered for prizes on the Bermuda Race site yet.)
A light-wind high pressure area is forecast to block the path of these leaders to some extent, but finding a more extreme way around it may not be easy, so this is still anyone’s race…at least anyone who remembered to start on time and didn’t cut Red Gong 4 at Brenton Reef, shortly after the start. Unfortunately, some shaved it too close and others completely forgot about it!
We got the following report a few hours ago from one who missed the mark, Scott Guerin/wsguerin, who is a ringleader for the “race within a race” between members of the Mamaroneck Frostbite Association (NY) who have all entered in the Double-Handed Division:
Day 1 2100UTC N2B_MFA report
It’s now about 4 hours after the start and already the MFA group is spread across a scattered arc 15nm wide. Since positions are calculated as distance to finish along the rhumbline, they are kind of meaningless at this stage, but nonetheless, since a racer’s early strategy often casts the die, TroyTempest (an MFA newcomer to SOL) leads sfd as they drag race down the rhumbline with jbafield following a bit farther outside.
This reporter, Wsguerin, has traded SOL race “blows” with jbafield in wins and losses but I made what may have been a fatal error in the first 15 minutes of the race: I missed the first mark by falling off one server jump too soon. I watched it happen in disbelief and as fast as possible in the SOL-verse, I gybed and tacked back around it correctly.
Currently I’m driving left, thinking I’ll catch a better breeze and angle in a day, but as is typical, I’m having second thoughts about my plan since I’m a near outlier across the entire fleet, except, there’s dtayls even farther out! He’s a solid and frequent SOL racer with a recent top 50 finish in the Auckland to Fiji race. Of course, all the SOP (Seat of The Pants) racers, in all the classes, are wondering about the best path through the upcoming days of fluky, shifty, wind. (See below primitive tool use!)