Regatta

Out of Africa: RORC Transatlantic Race 2024 Day Three

The initial phase of the RORC Transatlantic Race 2024 has been significantly influenced by land effects, shaping strategic options for the international fleet in the first three days. Currently, on the third day, a major portion of the fleet is navigating along the West African Coast. Challenges encountered include numerous fishing boats with dragging nets, while the advantageous factor is the thermal wind generated by the Western Sahara Desert, aiding boats sailing south. The swiftest vessels are now charting a course westward into the Atlantic, and future strategic decisions will be dictated by weather patterns and ocean currents, distancing the race from coastal considerations. At present, Erik Maris’ MOD70 Zoulou (FRA) is leading the multihull division, while the monohull front is headed by Chris Sherlock’s Farr 100 Leopard 3 (MON).

The Cape Verde Islands have emerged as the primary focal point for the majority of the fleet, except for one exception. Richard Fromentin’s JPK 1180 Cocody (FRA) chose a northern route, passing the Canary Islands, and holds the overall lead in the race after IRC time correction.

As of January 9th at 0600 UTC, the leaders in various categories are as follows: Multihull Line Honors & MOCRA – Zoulou (FRA), Monohull Line Honors & IRC SZ – Leopard 3 (MON), IRC Overall & IRC One – Cocody (FRA), IRC Zero – Warrior Won (USA), Class40 Sensation Extreme (FRA), IRC Two Handed Tigris (GBR).

Multihull

Jason Carroll’s MOD70 Argo (USA) has led the Multihulls along the African coast and was the first to gybe west at approximately 1600 UTC on 8 January. Followed by Erik Maris’ Zoulou (FRA) and Alexia Barrier’s Limosa (FRA).

Argo’s Chad Corning checked in after gybing west on day two: “Argo had a good start and we have managed to pull a bit of a lead on Zoulou and Limosa. The conditions have been spectacular with winds between 15-18kts and orderly seas. We gybed away from the African coast and are now on a long slant to the south west. All well onboard; we’re getting into our rhythm and sailing fast.

All three MOD 70s have ventured well offshore, steering a westerly course. However, a region of lighter winds situated north of the Cape Verde Islands is causing divergence in trajectories for the trio. Argo executed a southward gybe during the night, while Zoulou continued its westward route. Limosa, on the other hand, opted to stay closer to the shore, possibly seeking wind enhancement from the Cape Verde Islands.

As of the Day Three Update, Zoulou leads on the water, positioned 2,356nm from the finish and being the closest boat to the rhumb line. Argo holds the second position, covering 49 more miles than Zoulou but consistently maintaining better boat speed. Limosa – The Famous Project secures the third spot and is the southernmost among the entire fleet. Adrian Keller’s 84ft catamaran Allegra (SUI) is 2,615nm away from the finish, outweighing all the MOD70s combined. Despite Allegra’s substantial weight, after MOCRA time correction, it remains a strong contender. The Allegra crew, as reported by member Helena Darvelid, is doing well, but they remain vigilant for numerous fishing boats and their associated nets.

As the leading MOD70s surge beyond 25 knots of boat speed to the north of the Cape Verde Islands, their primary focus is likely centered on maintaining high boat speed to navigate through the transition zone and into a region of stable pressure.

IRC overall

Richard Fromentin’s JPK 1180 Cocody has raised a few eyebrows having taken the northerly route heading towards a vicious low pressure system. At 0600 UTC on day three, Cocody turned south before the arrival of the front. The gamble looks to have paid off for now, with Cocody leading the RORC Transatlantic Race overall under IRC. However, Cocody will be very focused on getting through the transition zone to the south of their position. If they stall in this calm area, the team could well be in very strong headwinds from the southwest.

Jean-Francois Guillon’s Solaris 50 Sea-Nergy (FRA), from the Société Nautique de Marseille, is ranked second overall under IRC. Chris Sheehan’s PAC52 Warrior Won (USA) is ranked third overall under IRC and leading IRC Zero.

Chris Sheehan contacted the media team from on board Warrior Won on 9 January at 1000 UTC: “Right now it’s really all about keeping her moving as quickly as possible, so driving and trimming is critical,” commented Sheehan. “It’s a very benign sea state, maybe a half a metre or two metre, occasionally from the north. We have 13 knots of breeze which is nice; 16 is better, we go on a step there and can plane, but otherwise a beautiful, brilliant sunny day. The crew morale is great and we’re really moving along in a band of pressure, maybe 100 miles wide. For the overall prize under IRC we are keen to stay in touch with Leopard. We are 40 to 50 miles behind, which is okay on corrected time, but we need to stay focused as Leopard is bound to accelerate after the Cape Verde Islands.

January 8, 2024

RORC Transatlantic Race 2024: The Odyssey Begins

RORC Transatlantic Race 2024
Farewell to Lanzarote as the RORC Transatlantic Race fleet head for Grenada, West Indies © Robert Hajduk

The 10th edition of the RORC Transatlantic Race 2024 commenced under excellent conditions outside Marina Lanzarote. The start featured calm waters, a gentle 10 knots of breeze, and a pleasant air temperature of 20 degrees, creating a spectacular setting for the initial stage of this 3,000-mile oceanic race. However, the diverse fleet is well aware of the impending challenge, as two potent low-pressure systems to the north are expected to introduce more demanding conditions. This will especially impact those opting for the ‘high road’ across the Atlantic to reach Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina in Grenada.

Both the Multihull and Monohull starts proceeded smoothly, with Jason Carroll’s MOD70 Argo (USA) crossing the start line just ahead of Alexia Barrier’s MOD70 Limosa (FRA). Approximately half an hour into the race, Argo and Limosa were neck and neck in the vicinity of the turning mark at Puerto Calero. Argo successfully fended off Limosa to maintain the lead briefly. However, the winds subsided, allowing Limosa to momentarily take the lead. Subsequently, as the wind picked up speed, Erik Maris’ MOD70 Zoulou accelerated to 17 knots, overtaking Limosa and challenging Argo for the lead.

In the Monohull start, Christopher Sheehan’s PAC52 Warrior Won (USA) opted for a windward position and executed a perfectly judged start, closely trailed by Mikhail Malamud’s ClubSwan 50 Pimu (USA). Chris Sherlock, skippering the Farr 100 Leopard 3 (MON), made the strategic decision to stay close to the shore after the start, showcasing their massive masthead spinnaker to spectators along the seafront of Arrecife, Lanzarote’s capital. This inshore route proved highly successful; Leopard rounded the turning mark outside Puerto Calero a mere 400 meters behind the leading multihulls that had started 10 minutes earlier. Warrior Won followed suit as the second monohull to round, skillfully lowering their spinnaker in a short-course style.

Subsequently, Warrior Won hugged the inshore route along the east coast of Fuerteventura, capitalizing on a robust breeze line to sail south at an impressive speed exceeding 12 knots.

José Juan Calero, Managing Director of Calero Marinas joined race fans in the spectator boat fleet: “For the tenth edition we are really happy to have a fleet of this calibre; an amazing group of boats with fantastic sailors from all over the world,” commented JJ Calero. “The crews have enjoyed a special programme in Lanzarote and everyone has said that they have enjoyed the island and that they want to come back. The people of Lanzarote love this race and want to be involved with the build-up to the start; the spectator boat was over-subscribed. Lanzarote can be very windy, but today I am super happy to see enough wind for a good start and the sun shining! We hope the next 10 years will be as successful and we are proud to have a great relationship with the RORC for the race.

Following the amendment to the course 48 hours before the start, all of the RORC fleet, bar one boat has elected to head south after the Puerto Calero mark. The only boat to head west into the Canary Island archipelago is Richard Fromentin’s JPK 1180 Cocody (FRA).

It’s fantastic to see a downwind start; the fleet seem to be heeding the advice about the weather and are heading south,” commented RORC Racing Manager Steve Cole. “In the build-up we have had really good communication with the competitors who have given us all the information required in good time. This has allowed us to concentrate on other aspects of the race such as safety inspections. There have been a few tiny things that needed some attention, but all of the boats are well-prepared to cross the Atlantic. We wish all of the teams fair winds and we look forward to seeing the competitors in Grenada.

At the start and the turning mark at Puerto Calero, a significant spectator fleet shouted encouragement from cruising boats and from the packed spectator boat which had been provided free of charge by Calero Marinas. The smallest boat in the race and the lowest rating under IRC is Gavin Howe’s Sun Fast 3600 Tigris, racing Two-Handed with Maggie Adamson. Three cheers rang out from the spectator fleet as they left Lanzarote and towards the wide expanses of the Atlantic Ocean.

The RORC Transatlantic Race is part of the RORC Season’s Points Championship, the world’s largest offshore racing series.

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