If you’re into tracking offshore races from the comfort of your armchair, the Transatlantic Race — from Newport, RI, to Great Britain’s Lizard rock — should be high on your priority list. As reported here earlier, the first of three groups started Sunday, with Matt Brooks and Pam Levy’s Bay Area-based S&S yawl Dorade garnering much of the attention of spectators and journalists, as the immaculately refurbished 52-footer is attempting to repeat her dramatic 1931 elapsed-time fleet victory — when she beat many larger boats by a margin of two days.
Back then, Dorade‘s astounding victory had much to do with the course that skipper Olin Stephens chose along the 2,800-mile course, and the same may be true this year. Roughly half of the early starters (13 boats total) are currently well south of the Great Circle rhumbline, a move made in order to stay in strong southwesterly winds and maximize benefit from Gulf Stream current. Charlie Wroe’s 125-ft Herreshoff schooner Mariette of 1915 (UK) is now leading by a comfortable 160-mile margin over the Kaufman 48 Carina (USA), skippered by Rich du Moulin. Dorade is currently fourth.
At 2 p.m. EST today another 20 boats were due to start. We’d bet that some of the most vocal spectator support will be aimed at the Open 60 Grey Power (UK), skippered by diehard bluewater sailor Robin Knox Johnston — now 76 — whose crew includes two other solo circumnavigators, India’s Dilip Donde and France’s Bernard Gallay.
While the leaders are expected to experience strong winds of 18-30 knots accompanied by rowdy seas during the next few days, the third group of starters won’t even get onto the playing field until this Sunday, July 5. That division is made up of the largest and fastest boats, however, many of which are easily capable of leaving the current frontrunners in their wakes — and possibly set new course records.
In any case, this year’s Transatlantic promises to be a fun one to watch — even from your armchair. Here in the Bay Area, of course, we’ll be rooting for a strong showing by the lovely Dorade. Follow the action at this tracker link, and find in-depth info elsewhere on the website.
We’re taking Friday off in honor of the Fourth of July and we hope you’ll be able to do the same. Over that three-day break, you’ll undoubtedly want to get out on the water, but before you shove off, be sure to pick up a copy of the just-distributed July issue of Latitude 38.
In it you’ll find our usual mix of cruising and racing news, as well as features on the Master Mariners Regatta, S.F. Bay History (Part II), a preview of the Transpac, and nerdy wisdom from Max Ebb. Grab a copy at your favorite marine business. Or, download it for free, or read it online here. (Magazines distributed today in the Bay Area and in a few days in SoCal, OR and WA.)
Have a great weekend, but remember to keep it safe and at least relatively sober.
Has controversial Russian-born American sailor Rimas Meleshyus finally come to his senses? Ever since he crash-landed the first of his two San Juan 24s in the Aleutian Islands a few years ago, both friends and critics have been trying to talk him out of pursuing his dream of being the first to solo circumnavigate one of these tiny sloops, which were clearly not designed for open-ocean sailing. But until recently, this ultra-strong-willed sailor always refused to listen.
A longtime supporter called yesterday to tell us that after a six-month’s stay in American Samoa, Meleshyus has sold his boat, Pier Pressure, and all her gear for $700, having decided that it is not the right tool for the job. Regular readers may recall that he arrived at that American territory (needing a tow into the harbor) on December 9, after drifting and sailing for 122 days from San Francisco — a crossing of 4,000 miles.
Now back in Washington State, Meleshyus evidently has not totally given up on his fantasies of circumnavigating, but he’ll probably never again attempt it in such a small boat. We’re told he’s now in the market for something bigger and more substantial — well, at least two feet longer anyway; perhaps a Contessa 26.