“Talking Sailing” From My Archives. Closing in on Rio

Norhi – the leading catamaran. pic by Alec Smith

by Richard Crockett

In just a few hours time Adrian Kuttel’s ‘Atalanta’ will have less than 1000nm to go to the finish. That same milestone will also be passed by ‘Ray of Light’ and ‘Audaz II’ later today as they trail Kuttel by 105nm.

This is always one of those psychological milestones in the race, but also one of the toughest stretches of the race as on approaching the South American land mass the wind shifts from trade wind sailing to far more tactical sailing due to the vagaries of the wind close to land.

I am interested to see that these three yachts are quite significantly south of Ilha da Trindade, a mark of the course in days of yore, and a place where the fleet came together before fanning out again as they looked for the fastest route to the finish line and Rio.

The synoptic charts, today anyway at 06h00, show good winds and a fast passage to the finish. But remember, the wind has a mind of its own and can literally “bite one in the bum” when over-confidence prevails, or Aeolus is having a bad day!

There are two big losers in the race so far. ‘Translated 9′ as the biggest monohull in the fleet did what Hugh Long of ‘Ondine’ fame did in the 1973 race 50 years ago – they went too far south and had light or no wind. Long ignominiously retired from that race, but vowed to come back for the next one in which he took line honours.

The other big loser is ‘Nemesis’ which must have sailed far more distance than any of the other yachts in the fleet with her erratic course. First going north, then ducking south and being becalmed, and then going north again. They looked really good in the opening few days, and all aboard must rue the decisions taken. Will the navigator be buying ALL the drinks in Rio?

Sailing along consistently well are the “angels” aboard ‘AlexForbes Archangel’, who have done anything but disgrace themselves in this race. As the youngest team on the water by far, they lie just off the podium in terms of the handicap honours, and irrespective of where they finish they have accomplished themselves well and in a seamanlike manner. Well done guys ‘n girls.

The big question as to which monohull will finish first into Rio is an interesting one as it will be any one of the top three right now. Predictions show that Adrian Kuttel, the only singlehanded entry in the race, will just pip his fellow rivals. He’s a canny and experienced ocean racer, and I am sure deep down would love nothing more than to be the first monohull home – and of course a very cold beer!

From days of yore just two contributions today.

1973. Sewed Up Cut in Own Leg. READ MORE HERE:  1973 01 17 – Rio 1973 – S&A – 000073 – OCR

1976. Off to A Great Start. READ MORE HERE:  1976 01 17 – 1976 Rio – S&A – 002056 – OCR

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