Under the backdrop of the Manhattan Skyline, with over 100 spectators at the Thomson Reuters race start line, The Atlantic Cup presented by 11th Hour Racing took off in light conditions on Saturday, May 7th. As part of Sailors for the Sea’s Clean Regattas certification for the race, the boats sailed the course using bio-diesel, hydro-generators, solar power, and reusable water bottles.
Team Dragon crossed the finish line at 9:23pm ET Sunday, May 8 with an elapsed time of 30:48:44 to capture first in the off-shore leg of the Atlantic Cup. The race was a back and forth with five lead changes and the top three finishers completing the race within 1 hour 17 minutes of each other.
The Atlantic Cup off-shore course took the fleet out of New York Harbor Saturday afternoon south to the only turning mark on the course at Barnegat Light and from the turn boats headed straight to Newport, RI. The start of the race was in light air and saw Team Cutlass cross the line first. Team Icarus took the False Hook Channel out of New York Harbor and was the only boat to do so and in taking that route they were able to get a jump on the competition and arrive at the turning mark off Barnegat Light first. However, after Team Icarus broke a halyard on their Code 0, they saw their lead dwindle and slowly the competition over took them. As daylight rose on Sunday morning, Team Cutlass/11th Hour Racing, Dragon and Toothface all followed a similar course and traded the lead throughout the morning. Team Icarus chose a more northern route and hugged the Long Island Coast, which ultimately proved to be costly and they fell further and further back from the fleet.
With a win in the off-shore leg of the Atlantic Cup, Mike Hennessy and Rob Windsor were thrilled to have arrived first after a questionable start to the race, 'I think everyone suffered at different points during the race, we suffered before the gun, we were a little far north of the line, caught a no wind and headed in the wrong direction,' said Skipper Mike Hennessy. After the start, Team Dragon made up ground and going into Sunday morning they were in a close second with Team Cutlass/11th Hour Racing when they ran into a light air patch. They tactically decided to get some separation from their competition and go to the west of Block Island and that decision paid off, said Skipper Rob Windsor, 'once we got to Point Judith and I had to use binoculars to see the next boat behind us, I knew we were pretty good.'
Team Cutlass/11th Hour Racing crossed second with an elapsed time of 31:38:07. For most of Sunday, Team Cutlass/11th Hour Racing was leading the fleet by close to 13 nautical miles. However, their good fortune turned when they got to Block Island and chose to go the eastern side of the Island. Skipper Rob MacMillan explained his decision, 'Basically just based on wind I was a little terrified of the current to the western side and I didn’t think there was going to be as much wind based on the direction the wind was coming from, which was due east. As we approached Block we kept getting headed…and that made our easy decision kind of difficult and at that point we saw Dragon which was kind of was, uh, a Holy Cow moment.'
Team Toothface finished just 27 minutes after Team Cutlass/11th Hour Racing with an elapsed time of 32:05:22. Skipper Mike Dreese on the off-shore leg said, 'I just thought it was amazing, the venue was unbelievable…and you’re racing past the Statue of Liberty, it doesn’t get any better than that, then for us to come home to Newport where we race out of all the time was reallyfun. I think that the organization, to see the ambition, to have a high quality, credible, exciting format be birthed and to be part of that first race, to me, I think I’m going to look back, [and say] I’m really glad we did this race.'
The final team to cross the line was Team Icarus coming in early Monday morningwith an overall elapsed time of 38:42:20. Team Icarus faced a number of hurdles just making it to the start line as up until one week ago they did not have a boat. In addition to having a dated set of sails, their boat was in poor condition with many electrical malfunctions. However, Skippers Ben Poucher and Tim Fetsch took a number of tactical risks throughout the race to make up for their less than speedy boat. Said Skipper Ben Poucher, 'We knew from the beginning we were going to have to take some risks to compete. We’re not going to have enough speed with the sails we have and we don’t know the boat that well so the only way to make any gains is to take risks and the first risk we took really paid off.' Their second risk, hugging the coast of Long Island did not pay off as well and they watch what was once a 6nm lead disappear to a gaping 40 mile deficit.
Attention now turns to the in-shore series, which will be held Saturday and Sunday May 14-15 in Newport, RI. Teams will use a crew of six for the three races heldeach day. Inshore races are weighted less in points, however any of the teams could see their current position change dramatically. The overall lowest point scorer will win The Atlantic Cup.
Atlantic Cup website