NEWPORT, R.I. — To say that Aegir is advancing at a snail’s pace towards the finish line of the Transatlantic Race 2019 might be an insult to snails. After all, the world’s fastest snail has been clocked at .0085 kilometers/hour. Aegir is, of course, sailing faster than that, but race watchers would be hard pressed to realize that fact watching the boat’s snail trail on the YB Race Tracker.
At today’s 1400 position report, Clarke Murphy and the crew of the 82-footer Aegir were some 60 nautical miles from the finish line in Cowes, Isle of Wight, England. Since 0030 UTC last night, Aegir had covered just 60 nautical miles, stuck in the middle of the English Channel looking for wind.
“With high pressure dominating, overnight there was virtually zero wind on the northern side of the western English Channel,” said Aegir navigator Mike Broughton. “We took a dive southeast towards Guernsey which seemed to work pretty well and kept us in an average of 7 knots of wind. It was a busy night close to the shipping channels.”
Aegir has favorable current until slightly past 1600 UTC and then will have about seven hours of adverse current until about 2330 UTC before the current turns favorable again.
“It looks like a night arrival at the moment,” Broughton said. “We are now heading north as the English coastline looks the place to be and the tidal stream is turning east. It doesn’t look like we will quite make the tide past the Needles in these drifting conditions. Whilst I hope not, we could be reaching for the anchor later.”
Eric De Turckheim’s 54-footer Teasing Machine is also struggling with light winds and foul currents in the English Channel. Teasing Machine is about 150 nautical miles astern of Aegir, but still has to clear the Lizard Point gate, which lies about 57 nautical miles to the northeast.
At 1400 UTC Teasing Machine was making 5 knots boatspeed on a heading of 130 degrees. The current has already turned adverse for Teasing Machine, meaning they’ll have to make some more east in their course before tacking to the Lizard Point gate or risk being swept out of the Channel. By 1430 UTC, Teasing Machine had tacked to starboard and was making 5 knots speed at 033 degrees.
While the English Channel is devoid of favorable sailing conditions, the same can’t be said for the fleet behind Teasing Machine.
Giles Redpath’s 46-footer Pata Negra is beginning to pull away from the Irish coast in southwesterlies of 10 knots. But while Ireland fades in the review mirror, Peter Bacon’s 44-footer Lucy Georgina continues to creep up. At 1400 Lucy Georgina was some 34 nautical miles astern, after having been more than 100 nautical miles in arrears over the weekend. Lucy Georgina rode the band of 15- to 20-knot southwesterlies while Pata Negra was stuck about 25 nautical miles off the Irish coast.
The southwesterlies that have propelled Lucy Georgina and the second half of the fleet for the past week are forecast to break down the ridge of high pressure dominating the English Channel in the next 24 to 36 hours.
“According to the latest GRIB files it looks like things are changing for the better,” said Mark D’Arcy, navigator aboard Hiro Maru, who added that July 12 is their current ETA to Cowes. “Life is good today. We have a windspeed of 16 knots from about 220 true and are making a course over the ground of 092 degrees. We’re flying a kite on flat seas and have sunshine, really lovely sailing conditions. There’s an opportunity to take the shirt off and dry out the wet gear.”
Hiro Maru owner Hiroshi Nakajima went to great lengths preparing the crew’s meals in advance of the race. Nakajima subscribes to the belief that an army can’t march on an empty stomach and he and his wife prepared a food survey for the crew to determine limitations in their diets. They developed and rehearsed certain recipes to determine preparation and cooking times. D’Arcy said that the crew has been very well fed.
“Hiro’s menu is working out extremely well,” said D’Arcy. “He keeps pulling interesting things out of all corners of the boat. Last night we had chili over rice, all very good. We’re starting to see a few things succumb to the heat and humidity. The bread, in particular, is showing signs of mildew. Even the Wonder bread, which was brought not for its nutritional value but for its ability to resist mildew. Yet, even it is relenting.”