Murray set to be the front-runner
Record-breaking conditions are forecast for the second edition of the Antigua Bermuda Race, with strong easterly trades expected to provide fast reaching conditions for the first two days of the 935-nautical mile oceanic race. High pressure east of Bermuda is expected to decrease the gradient wind, shifting south to create tactical lighter running conditions for the finish into the island.
The American turbocharged Volvo 70 Warrior, sailed by Stephen Murray Jr. is expected to be the front-runner and their current estimated elapsed time is inside the record set last year of 3 days, 20 hours, 32 mins, 41 secs.
“Sailors superstition prevents me from predicting elapsed time, but we are optimistic we can shave off quite a bit of time from last year,” Murray said. “Our goals are a repeat of last year’s grand slam; winning CSA, IRC and a new course record, and we would also love to be the first recipient of the new Warrior Trophy for best IRC performance.
“We are so excited to have great competition from some very hot boats. This year, we will have our work cut out for us to beat Varuna and Teasing Machine; two proven winners in grand prix racing. As always, we hope to get recognition to the mission of Warrior Sailing, helping veterans through the sport of sailing. A strong showing against this stiff competition will hopefully spread the word about Warrior Sailing.
Jens Kellinghusen’s German Ker 56 Varuna will revel in the reaching conditions and should prove very adept at the VMG running conditions predicted for later in the race. Three Spanish Volvo Ocean Race sailors will strengthen the solid German team; Guillermo Altadill has competed in six round the world races, Chuny Bermúdez won the last edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, and Jaime Arbones is a veteran of ocean racing.
“It will be critical to sail fast for the first 50 or so hours,” Altadill said. “The further north we get in the good pressure will reduce the impact of the lighter winds predicted near to Bermuda. Once we start to get into the high pressure it is likely that we will sail west to get a hot angle into Bermuda.”
Other German contenders include: Joachim M. Brünner’s Andrews 56 Broader View Hamburg, class winner of the RORC Transatlantic Race, Hanns Ostmeier’s Swan 45 High Yield; Michael Orgzey’s Swan 48 Dantes; Sebastian Ropohl’s JV52 Haspa Hamburg, and Arnt Bruhns’ Class40 Iskareen.
Arnt Bruhns sailing Iskareen has completed a solo 1,400 mile qualification for the Route du Rhum, just days before the start of the Antigua Bermuda Race: “I have been sailing around the Caribbean islands for the last eight days,” Bruhns said. “For the Antigua Bermuda Race we will be four on board which will be the same crew for the Atlantic Anniversary Regatta Race from Bermuda to Hamburg this summer.”
Like Iskareen, High Yield will be competing in the Bermuda to Hamburg Transatlantic Race: “We have a crew of six, ranging in age from 30 to 70 years of age who are all from Hamburg. The race to Bermuda is an ideal way to get to the start of the Transatlantic Race this summer, and six is an ideal number. We will have a larger crew for the Atlantic Anniversary Regatta,” Ostmeier said.
Eric de Turckheim’s French Nivelt-Muratet 54 Teasing Machine is highly optimised for IRC but will not be as fast in the reaching conditions as Warrior and Varuna (which both have a canting keel). However, the highly experienced French team, including Volvo Ocean Race winner Laurent Pages, have shown impressive tactical and boat handling skills while winning the RORC Transatlantic Race.
The lighter downwind conditions towards the end of the race may give the French team their chance to win on corrected time.
“We may find that if the breeze does go light towards the end of the race, we might catch up the faster boats, but that may also be the same for us from the boats behind us,” Pages said. “Right now, before the race, we are focusing on our boat preparation and we will look more at our strategy once the race has started.”
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