Following a brief stay in Barcelona, the Panerai Transat Classique 2012 is underway once more. No time for an observation round, the crews have slipped back into racing mode and are motivated for the fight. The battle to the fickle currents of the Straits of Gibraltar is promising to be a fierce one.
2012 Panerai Transat Classique
Making the winches scream! If you look at how the boats are progressing in the Panerai Transat Classique 2012, it is quite clear that the crews are giving no quarter, focusing mercilessly on the finishing line. In the last 36 hours since the race restarted off Barcelona, the three leading yachts have been tacking relentlessly against the wind, their paths crossing on a number of occasions. It is likely that those on watch last night saw the navigation lights of their opponents at least twice. Sea Lion and The Blue Peter initially hugged the coast before tacking out to sea and back again; while Corto did exactly the opposite, in perfect symmetry. It's a nautical version of 'now you see me, now you don’t'! Average speeds are well above what the race committee was expecting.
Aboard the boats the atmosphere is as intense as an afternoon regatta, and just as unpredictable. The Blue Peter was the first to suffer a significant setback: 'We got headed really badly in the constantly shifting winds and our genoa got backed on to the spreaders, which ripped it significantly. It was a blow to morale. We really weren't moving under Yankee and forestaysail; thankfully Paola managed to sew up the yard-long rip in less than two hours.' Luckily for them, they had an expert sailmaker aboard who could deal with the situation quickly. Despite these kinds of incident, the crews are in high spirits and the offshore sailing is providing its fair share of pleasure: 'Dolphins jumping, sun and rain, waiting for the westerly.'
A fresh breeze would do White Dolphin a lot of good. She's currently trailing the pack but is determined to catch up. It's an unenviable task. Why? Because fitting a new propeller meant she started the race five and a half hours late and didn't get the same wind conditions as the others; a less favourable and gentler breeze made her do a lot of work just to stay in the game. The gap increased slightly overnight but since then it has stabilized. But the news isn't all bad for White Dolphin: there's still more than 500 nautical miles to be sailed before a winner crosses the line in the Tagus estuary off Cascais. Anything can happen between now and then. Maybe the wind will come in from the rear of the fleet to allow the big ketch to make up for lost time.
The race committee is now preparing for the arrival of the Panerai Transat Classique 2012 in Portugal. Organizing an event such as this is quite a challenge, the forced stopover in Barcelona being a good example of the problems that have to be dealt with. Fortunately the Real Club Nautico was on hand to help out. Its members showed remarkable enthusiasm and effectiveness, especially in the case of the propeller-less White Dolphin. The club's commodore, Damian Ribas, former chairman of the C.I.M. (the rating body for classic yachts in the Mediterranean) and organizer of the Trophée Panerai, made sure that this unexpected port visit was as enjoyable as possible. Solidarity among sailors is alive and well!
Currently on course for the first gate west of Cartagena, the yachts will then head for the Straits of Gibraltar, a very difficult stretch of water which will certainly have an impact on the order of the race. Once into the Atlantic, they will sail up the Portuguese coast and are expected to arrive, weather permitting, around 6 November.
Panerai Transat Classique website