The first edition of the Transatlantic Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup sees Morten Bergesen’s Nariida (NOR), a Wally 105 launched in 1994, leading the fleet of seven maxis across the Atlantic Ocean. The Maxi Yachts left Tenerife in the Canary islands on 26th November at 13.00 UTC with the final destination of St Maarten in the Netherland Antilles and the leader has now covered almost 2,000 of the 2,650 nautical mile journey. Promoted by the International Maxi Association and organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) with the support of the Real Club Nautico de Tenerife for the start and the Sint Maarten Yacht Club for the finish.
Nariida’s decision to follow a northerly loop from the start seems to have been the right one although skipper Knut Frostad, reporting yesterday, was cautious about the final results: “We are crossing a massive squall line with rain squalls and lightning. This is the beginning of the front we have to go through to get to the northerly breeze on the other side. Our strategy has been to position ourselves long term for this transmission and to get the best approach to the finish. It’s obviously a tricky and quite unusual situation with the trades completely broken by the low pressure system ahead of us. As it will be less and instable in direction and strength for a while, it opens up some uncertainty depending on where you are positioned.
"For us we have been confident in our strategy for a while now, and so far it has paid off as we are now further ahead than we were at any time before. It is obviously a very interesting situation now as our nearest competitor on both corrected time and line honours at the moment, Sojana, bailed out earlier and chose a completely different strategy, heading south. However, as we all know, corrected time calculations are never realistic until every boat is finished, and if the smaller boats gets more breeze in the end, the picture can change.
"We are focusing on having a safe setup as it is critical not to loose any miles on breakdowns or problems during the next 24 hours. I believe the next 48 hours will be the most critical in this whole race.”
While Nariida and Sojana (GBR), owned by Peter Harrison, were almost equally positioned 48 hours ago, Nariida has now lengthened her lead and at 14.30 UTC today was approximately 100 nautical miles closer to the finish line than her British rival. Andrè Auberton’s Dark Shadow (MON),was in third place. Will Apold’s Valkyrie (CAN) had moved up to fourth place after choosing a southerly route and was followed by Bernd Kortum’s Julie Marie (GER) and Anders Johnson’s Blue Pearl (GBR),with these last two practically neck-and-neck. Zefiro (GER), owned by Gerhard Ruether, rounded up the fleet.
Will Apold’s last update showed the typical good spirits this Canadian crew has displayed form the start despite having some equipment problems: “We are sailing a southerly approach to the finish having been first to dive south to get under the mixed weather ahead. The weather conditions are superb. The weather at present is 20 knots from the east allowing Valkyrie to slide off the waves adding to its speed. Valkyrie has had its gear problems since this is the second race for the boat, so there have been gear issues including the loss of a halyard resulting in the dropping of the spinnaker overboard. The kite was recovered and the minor damage repaired. We lost our heavy A5 chute when the head separated from the body resulting in a second 'ALL HANDS ON DECK. ' Crew members arrived in various states of dress or undress as we struggled to pull the chute on board. The chute was recovered but is damaged beyond repair for the facilities on board.”
Although this is the first time they have all sailed together, Alpold is confident in his crew’s ability: “The crew is all from the Halifax area of Nova Scotia on the east coast of Canada and have been normally sailing against each other in small boats. Ten of the 13 crew are members of the Bedford Basin Yacht Club and two of the others are former members. This is the first time that this group has sailed together on Valkyrie although they are familiar with each other's sailing styles. As we say in Canada, ‘Now it is up to us to put the puck in the net!’ The crew is pumped and we are sailing well.”
The prize giving for the event is scheduled to take place on 14th December in St Maarten and will see the overall winner under IRC handicap receiving the Rolex Trophy and timepiece. There will also be trophies for the winner in real time and the first IMA member under handicap.
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