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 15 June 2000 Issue # 215

By Ike Stephenson


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Sailing's Majors: 2000 Newport to Bermuda 

Tomorrow the biennial Newport to Bermuda race will start. The course, "From the Starting Line off Newport, Rhode Island to the Finish Line off St. David's Light on St. David's Head, Bermuda. The Islands of Bermuda shall be passed to starboard."  It's a  635 mile sail crossing the Gulf Stream in the process.

Along with the Fastnet, Sydney to Hobart and the Great Lakes Mackinack Races, the Bermuda is one of the classic offshore races.  Unlike some sailing's majors, the Bermuda race attracts a wide variety of sailors from amateurs to professionals.  All are drawn by the challenge of offshore racing and outsmarting the fickle Gulf Stream.

Current race record is 57 hours by Boomerang in 1998.  Boomerang an ILC Maxi is again entered along with fellow maxis Sagamore and Sayonora.  Along with Blue Yankee a Reichel Pugh 66 these boats have a good chance of winning line honors.

This year the race will be scored with two handicap systems.  IMS will be the scoring system for the Racer and Racer/Cruiser divisions.  Americap will be used for the Cruising and Doublehanded fleets.

Forecasted conditions for the start are South West @ 20-25 knots.  This should get everyone off to a fast start with the first start @ 1300 eastern.

Sailing Daily will cover the fleet as they race to Bermuda.

Single Handed:  Europe 1 Transat 

With Francis Joyon having won the Class I multihulls the on water action is with the Class I monohulls.  The monohulls have several days of what looks to be close racing remaining.

Latest reports show Kingfisher still leading.  Ellen Macarthur has a 45 mile lead over 2nd place Sill.  Mike Golding on Group 4 is making a steady charge and is now 3rd 70 miles back.  4th is Catherine Chabaud on Whirlpool.  She provides some commentary on the race's likely outcome: "I think it will be hard for me to catch Ellen (Kingfisher) before Newport. She gets the wind first, she has all the options. But I'm still confident for third. Mike (Group 4), I think, is too far North."  Mike Golding isn't sounding worried saying: "There are 1000 miles of racetrack left. Two days ago Fila and PRB were just behind me, now they are way back."   From the lead Ellen Macathur states, "I am really stressed now, you bring most of it on yourself, but I have managed to sleep a fair bit."

As the sailors approach the coast a number of routing options will arise.  Different weather systems will provide opportunities for smart wind reading to upset the standings order before the finish.

With the mono's still racing, record setter Francis Joyon commented on his record.  In a year when much upwind sailing would seem to preclude a record Joyon said: "I think the record was broken because we can get a better performance out of these trimarans now; 12 years ago, you could reach 11-12 knots upwind in bad weather, now itís around 16 knots."  

Joyon put a special emphasis on weather and routing saying, "But for me the goal was really to take my offshore racing experience to greater heights and gain a greater understanding of the ocean....I think it was because I was more in touch with the the elements, that I won in the end."  

With the closeness in Class I be certain that all the skippers are striving for a oneness with the weather they will face as they sail to the Newport finish line.

The Race:  Club Med on the Discovery Route

After 7 days of sailing on the Discovery Route between Spain and the Bahamas Club Med is 379 miles ahead of the record time.  Even better than this record is the fact that the wind has picked up and gone forward helping Club Med on her way to the Bahamas.  

One of the more interesting aspects of Club Med's voyage is it's crew.  According to co-skipper Bruno Peyron, "It's the association of the French multihull culture and the Anglo-Saxon maxi culture."

This dichotomy is seen in the co-skippers Bruno Peyron, French multi hull sailor and Grant Dalton several times Whitbread skipper.  From the Maxi side comes Mike Quilter winning Whitbread navigator and Neal Macdonald a Whitbread crew.  From the maxi multi's come Jacques Careas and Herve Jan who sailed on the current Jules Verne Trophy holder Sport Elec.  

It's a unique crew.  A Race Class Catamaran such as Club Med probably requires all the crews prior experiences and an open mind to learn the ways of this powerful sailing machine.




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Thanks and Links to:
Bermuda Race, Club Med



Finn Gold Cup
In England there was too much wind to race, and so no report.









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