After four days at sea, the two leading maxi racers “Maximus” and “Mari-ChIV” were for the first time in front of the virtual position that Charlie Barr had reached with his schooner “Atlantic” in 1905 at the same time.
After a hard Wednesday night with stormy winds and gigantic waves, the sailors had taken a more northerly course and set course for the destination The Lizard off the English coast, which, however, is still more than 2,000 nautical miles away.
"So far this race has either offered us no wind or too much," reports the helmsman of the "Mari-ChIV", Mike Sanderson. “In the eight hours of the night we had to reduce the boat speed to avoid material damage that could have meant the end.
Sanderson continues: “Sometimes it is too easy to forget that the race across the Atlantic is still long. So we have lost some of our lead over the 'Maximus' with a clear conscience, so that we can safely get into the phase when the expected half-wind and spacing courses are due in a few days."
At the time, the 140-foot schooner was sailing in force 8 under “survival conditions”. Meanwhile, the "Maximus" had set itself apart from its larger competitor and was 25 nautical miles northwest of her. In terms of the distance to the destination, that meant 15 nautical miles less, including the lead in the Grand Prix class.
The lead has even grown in the past few hours, because there was a break on "Mari-ChIV". The main sail's sled gave up in a gust. In the meantime, the yacht had to go under Trysail so that the damage could be repaired. This has been provisionally successful for the time being. “Mari-ChIV” is back on track and is back to 100 percent speed, reads on the yacht's website.
The British duel between Mike Slade's “Leopard of London” and Peter Harrison's “Sojana” also continued in Performance Cruising Class 1. The "Leopard" had changed course and was 48 nautical miles further to the northwest, but only two nautical miles away from the competitor in the sailed distance.
In the third match race between the two largest yachts in the field (after the abandonment of the “Stad Amsterdam”), the 170-foot ketch “Drumbeat” had the better end and led 57 nautical miles ahead of its sloop-rigged almost sister ship "Tiara".
“In the early morning the head of the staysail broke with 9 winds”, said “Tiara” captain Pascal Pellat-Finet. “It's nothing dramatic, but we had to slow down the ship properly. We are now waiting for better weather to be able to set a bigger sail."
Steve Frank, owner of the Swan 112 "Anemos", said the crew had had a lot of trouble with the little wind before a stiff breeze finally brought relief. “From 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. the sky was light blue. It was a fantastic sailing experience. In 40 years I have never seen so much wind in such glorious sunshine.”However, the“Anemos”got too far to the north and after a jibe back the wind soon stopped. "Since then, it has been as if someone switched off the fan," complained Frank.
While the conditions in the first four days were extremely unusual and challenging, things will be different at the weekend, says Ken Campbell from Commanders Weather, which advises 16 of the participants. “Wednesday was the last day of the storm system, which is why the start of the regattum had been postponed for 24 hours and accompanied the yachts for some time. The two low pressure areas are now merging and will retreat across the Atlantic to the northeast. At the weekend, all boats should enjoy the westerly or southwesterly winds they prefer."
100 years ago on the fourth day of their Atlantic crossing aboard the schooner “Atlantic”, Frederick Hoyt wrote: “During the afternoon the breeze subsided and we barely made more than three or four knots at sunset. A high southwest swell hit the side of the ship and didn't help us at all with the light wind. On the contrary, we had to rescue all the trees to protect the sails and trim harness from damage.
Only the square sail and the rake pulled anything. To everyone's great despair, the wind became even less, and in the evenings we had practically no rowing action. It was a wonderful night for lovers and steamers, but not useful for a sailing regatta."
More information on the Internet at www.transatlanticchallenge.org.