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Marine Resources 2019 - Leaderboard

Transatlantic Race 2019 updates, Cup news, and the 2023 Ocean Globe Race

by David Schmidt 2 Jul 08:00 PDT July 2, 2019
Wizard - 2019 Transatlantic Race, Day 4 © Paul Todd / Outside Images

Sailboat racing is infectious for myriad reasons, but, for me at least, one of its finest attributes is the fact that one can race across the same patch of brine dozens of times and never experience the exact same conditions twice.

Mind you, this can sometimes be frustrating, as is the current reality of the fleet competing in the Transatlantic Race 2019, which has been experiencing lighter than usual breezes (juxtaposed by sporadic periods of plenty of breeze, of course) that have also been more forward of the beam than anyone would prefer. This biennial event, which is hosted by the Royal Yacht Squadron, the New York Yacht Club, the Royal Ocean Racing Club and the Storm Trysail Club, began on the waters off of Newport, Rhode Island on Tuesday, June 25, and will finish off of Cowes, UK, for a total distance of some 2,960 nautical miles.

According to official race reports, the 14-strong fleet experienced plenty of "liquid sunshine" as they departed the eastern seaboard of the United States and aimed their bows for the open Atlantic. Teams reported confused and sloppy sea states as they passed through the Gulf Stream, and now, days later, the fleet is skirting the ice-exclusion zone with their sheets cranked in hard.

"It's been pretty much all upwind until the wee hours of this morning," said Gary Grant, the navigator aboard Carina, Rives Potts' McCurdy & Rhodes 48, in an official TR2019 press release. "The forecast is a bit different from what we expected. This morning we thought the wind would back from the east to the northwest before dying and then filling in from the southwest. Instead, it's been veering from the east around to the southwest. Whichever way the wind gets here, fine. We just hope to hold the southwesterly to clear the ice zone."

Meanwhile, at the front of the pack, the pole position has been shared by two boats since leaving Newport, namely Wizard, the Volvo Open 70 that's being campaigned by brothers David and Peter Askew (USA), and SHK Scallywag, the Hong Kong-flagged Dovell 100 that's being skippered by Volvo Ocean Race alumni David Witt (AUS). As of this writing, Wizard was leading the hunt, however this has been an evolving situation, with several leaderboard changes, and, with some 1,167 nautical miles (again, at the time of this writing) separating Wizard's bows from the finishing line, odds are excellent that this line-honors tussle will continue all the way to England.

"[SHK Scallywag] went ripping along in close proximity, went past us at 24 knots," said Will Oxley, Wizard's navigator of his team's race-within-a-race against their Hong Kong-flagged rivals. "It was spectacular to see."

Looking ahead, Oxley sees plenty of potential for velocity made good. "I expect downwind-to-reaching conditions in mid-teens to low 20s for next few days, until about July 2," said Oxley in an official press release. "It should be really good conditions until then. There's a pesky high pressure forming to the west of the English Channel and the models are not decided where it will settle. So, we'll have to let that play out before deciding our route, but it looks like July 5 at The Lizard and sometime July 6 in Cowes."

Meanwhile, in America's Cup news, the long-simmering rumors that DutchSail, a last-minute entry to challenge for the 36th America's Cup - which will be held off of Auckland, New Zealand in March of 2021 - does not have sufficient time or funding to field a proper challenge were confirmed when the Dutch-flagged syndicate officially withdrew their challenge on July 1.

This, announcement follows in the wake of Malta Altus Challenge's March 31 announcement that they were withdrawing their challenge for AC36.

Careful readers will recall that there were three last-minute AC36 entries, namely those made by DutchSail, the Maltese-flagged Malta Altus Challenge, and the American-flagged Stars + Stripes Team USA. Given that two of these three challengers have now withdrawn, this draws additional attention to the second American challenger (aside from the better funded and significantly more developed American Magic syndicate, which is flying the New York Yacht Club's colors), who are now best described as the official underdog of the 36th America's Cup.

Impressively, Stars + Stripes Team USA are showing resiliency in the face of mounting time pressures, and, as of this writing, are still working towards their goal of challenging for the Auld Mug.

"We appreciate the continued support of LBYC and its membership, and the assistance of Emirates Team New Zealand and the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, over the past few months as we have reorganized our team," said team CEO Mike Buckley in an official America's Cup statement. "We continue to make progress with corporate partners, and believe we will have what it takes to be competitive in Auckland."

Sail-World wishes all teams the best of luck as they prepare their boats and teams for the challenges ahead.

Finally, in offshore-sailing news, word just broke that Don McIntyre, founder of the Golden Globe Race 2018, is organizing the 2023 Ocean Globe Race, which aims to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the original Whitbread Round the World Race. Much like the GGR 2018, teams racing in the OGR 2023 will follow a set of retro rules that are aimed at restoring the challenges faced by the original Whitbread crews. As such, teams are restricted from using high-tech materials, computers, and satellite communications systems (including GPS). All navigation will be done on sextants, navigators will be limited to single sideband radio and VHF for weather and communications, and even music will be limited to cassette tapes. Vessel lengths will be restricted to yachts ranging from 47 to 66 feet, and the course will follow in the wakes made by the Clipper ships and by the original Whitbread Race crews.

"For the first time in three decades, ordinary sailors and yacht owners have an opportunity to experience racing around the world in an affordable, safe and fun way," said McIntyre in an official Ocean Globe Race press release. "You don't need to be an elite sportsman nor require a huge support team... So many sailors harbor dreams of circling the Globe and racing around Cape Horn. The Ocean Globe Race now makes these ambitions possible once more."

Applications for the 2023 Ocean Globe Race will be available on September 10, 2019, four years ahead of the race's projected start, however potential entrants are advised that the race will be capped at a total of 30 teams.

May the four winds blow you safely home.

David Schmidt North American Editor

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