When Giovanni Soldini says the conditions are a bit rough, that’s the clue for the rest of us to thank our lucky stars that we’re not onboard Maserati in the RORC Transatlantic Race. Having hit objects at alarming frequency, I think he said that they had endured three collisions in our polluted oceans, the port rudder is virtually useless and the boat can only really get up and running on port gybe. Tough cookies these ocean gallopers and they’ve endured pretty uncomfortable conditions so far but my goodness, just how fast are they doing this? Look at the tracker and the race is almost done. Those multis are absolutely flying whilst Comanche is hanging on to their wake at full send making the Atlantic Ocean seem like a pond. Remarkable.
Meanwhile just behind, I’m playing amateur router on the brilliant YB Tracking software overlaid with the full weather data and trying to work out just who is going to come out on top as a vicious pressure system with angry arrows sits over the chasing pack. The VO70 ‘I Love Poland’ is tracking into the eye of the storm to the north whilst Black Pearl is skirting to the south. I don’t have the talent to tell who’ll come out on top but the tickets are punched and it’s a fascinating battle of navigators who are really earning their keep in this race.
But back to the multis and it’s Peter Cunningham’s Powerplay that’s still in the lead. What an absolutely beautiful boat that is – wasn’t it up for sale recently? Why would you want to sell that? Tell me I’m mad, but I still have the daydream as I suspect you do too, of that massive lottery win and the first absolutely brilliant purchase that would have the missus tutting is a fully tricked-up trimaran obviously followed quickly by the Star, 5.5m and International Moth (just because I can).
But the trimaran would be used for fast blasting and races like the Rolex Fastnet or the RORC Transatlantic and of course, the fastest ever lap of the Isle of Wight – I’d be back for breakfast. I loved the fact that in the summer, all the trimarans stayed in France before the start of the Fastnet and just set-off early on the morning of raceday to cross the English Channel and head off to the rock almost as if distance doesn’t matter. The Channel is just a playground – a mere few hours – and on current evidence, the Atlantic is rather similar. Cool as hell.
Over the summer, Jason Carroll’s Argo was shoreside in Cowes being prepped and readied like a Formula 1 car at the Wight Shipyard. It was impressive to see. And my most memorable sail of 2021 was when me and the boy wonder were out in our Laser and RS Tera dinghies just off Gurnard when we saw Argo gybing down the Solent on the way back from the Cherbourg finish of the Fastnet. As she gybed towards Cowes we were suddenly in a game of chicken with Argo flying straight towards us at about 25 knots. “Shall we get the hell out of here Daddy?” Good call son….we tacked off, Argo gybed with her mainsail clattering across with a sound akin to a cannon blast. Impressive machinery. Even better from the deck of a Laser. You feel very small. I think we won. I’ll claim that.
If the RORC Transatlantic Race hasn’t captured you, there’s not a lot more we can do for your interest in ocean racing. It’s a belter of a race and the stories from the boats coming back are just great. I loved Comanche’s navigator Will Oxley’s take on the race: “All going well on Comanche. Our goals are a safe boat and crew, line honours and a new race record. We felt we could achieve these goals without heading far north and crossing the front in big seas and strong winds. So, we have been threading the needle between a col (transition zone) and an easterly wave (atmospheric trough), trying to find enough pressure to make our way west. We had a slow 12 hours, but we hope we are through the worst of it now. We expect to cross the front around 0300 UTC on the day four. At this time, we will have a good idea whether our plan has been successful.”
Brilliant stuff but to get the full flavour, watch the video below from onboard Maserati – and when you go to sleep tonight, think what these guys are enduring. Blows me away.
Nice one RORC – you’re absolutely nailing this race. Sublime.