Charleston Bermuda Race leaders pickup the speed

Charleston Bermuda Race 2011
Charleston Bermuda Race’s 11-boat fleet continues to make significant progress toward Bermuda. Meanwhile, two entries have pulled ahead during the small hours of Sunday night and Monday morning.

Tucana, one of five OnDeck boats chartered for this race, has led the way since the fleet exited the Charleston Harbor jetties. As of midnight last night, the speedy Shipman 63 was blasting along in a northeasterly direction at over 10 knots.

With her crew of Hank Hofford, Susan Ford and their immediate family, along with a few guests, pushing the boat to its optimum performance, Tucana appeared to be pulling away from her nearest rival, the Farr 65 Spirit of Juno, which is under charter to comedian Stephen Colbert.

But by daybreak, Colbert and company had narrowed the margin down to five miles. Despite his second-place standing, Colbert, who has vowed to win this race, seemed characteristically jovial judging by an e-mail he sent to race headquarters late Sunday night. 'Dear land-based life forms,' he wrote. 'Fantastic day. We started with windless bobbing from 4:00 a.m. until 8:00 a.m. We punctuated this inertia by catching, on a hand line, two mahi-mahi, a very beautiful fish-fish! They both were laid to rest in a small Tupperware coffin surrounded by lime juice and chopped onions.

'Spent the afternoon dodging wind holes and watching dolphins play in our bow wake. We’ve also been introducing our English crew to the joys of grits. They are dubious, but too polite to admit they tossed it overboard.

'We are on four hour watches and lucky to get three hours’ sleep at a time. Those of you familiar with totalitarian regimes will remember that sleep deprivation is one way that dictators break their enemies.

'We are in good position thanks to our skipper, Tim Scarisbrick, first mate Bertie Whitley and second mate Chris Miller. 'We all smell wonderful. See you in Bermuda!'

As of the 6:30 a.m. position report today, Tucana maintained her lead, though she had slowed somewhat. Some 15 miles south, two other OnDeck boats are waging a tight duel. Vladimir Zinchenko’s Shipman 63 Yanosha (with a crew full of pay-to-play passengers) was rolling along at just under seven knots, almost neck and neck with Steve Wherry’s Farr 65 Spirit of Minerva. Meanwhile, Noel Sterrett and Matt Henderson on board the 43-foot Solarus continue to keep pace with those much larger steeds.

The farthest north in the fleet, David Skidmore and J. Barry Link, sailing on board the Morgan Out Island 41 Eagles Wings, have managed set an impressive pace, averaging over seven knots for the past few hours. While the most southerly boat in the fleet, Rob Turkewitz’s classic ketch, First Light, was beginning to climb back into the hunt after faltering in yesterday’s super light conditions.

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