Teams will face 15-foot seas and 30-knots of breeze overnight tonight as they navigate toward the Gulf Stream
The teams hit the Sea Bags Start Line running this afternoon in Charleston! The 2016 Atlantic Cup presented by 11th Hour Racing kicked off at 12:05 ET today in light rain and a northeast 10-15 knot breeze. Pleiad Racing, the oldest boat in the fleet, owned the start line: crossing a at least a boat length ahead of the fleet at full speed!
Coming into the first mark teams had to make a very physical sail change from their Code 0 to solent in order to sail upwind at a tighter angle of which the Spanish team, Tales II, executed flawlessly and launched to the front of the pack. After the mark rounding, Tales continued to extend on the fleet with Eärendil, with Pleiad and Oakcliff close behind. As the teams exited the jetties to enter the ocean, rain increased, the breeze became puffy and the sea state became lumpy.
The first 24-hours will be extremely challenging and present difficult conditions as the teams race to get over the top of the tropical storm that has formed just to the southeast of Charleston.
Earlier today we caught up with our North Sails Atlantic Cup Expert, Anderson Reggio who said:
“The a tropical storm coming in towards the Carolina coast, which will become a tropical storm tonight*. The boats need to get over the top of it and get to the Gulf Stream to make their way north as quickly as possible. The challenge in going over the top is that they will be getting headed the entire time, which means the decision of when to leave port tack and move to starboard is crucial. The longer you wait, the better the shift, but it also puts you more towards the center of rotation and it’s going to be upwind 15-foot waves, 30-knots of breeze tonight. Strategically, the boats that move north first are going to be playing a more conservative long-term game. The boats pushing east will have a much better shift and will be in kites a lot sooner, but again they will have to get closer to the center of rotation and they’ll be dealing with the worst of the seas and the wind.”
As predicted, the depression was officially updated this afternoon to a tropical storm by the National Hurricane Center. It seems the teams are now heading into the front and are being headed as the winds are becoming more easterly. As of 7pm this evening we’re seeing boat speeds in the fleet ranging from 5.8-8.6 knots.
“The wind is down a little bit to below 15 knots with a very aggravated sea state. We have one reef in the main and one reef in the solent that Libby and Liz are currently in the process of shaking those out. We’re seeing gnarly rain squalls.” – Will Lyons, OBR on Oakcliff Racing
Stay tuned and watch the teams on the GeoRacing tracker here as they head into the Gulf Stream and make their moves north!
The 5th edition of the Atlantic Cup presented by 11th Hour Racing will start May 28, 2016 in Charleston, South Carolina. Teams of two will race 648nm from Charleston to Brooklyn. After a brief stop-over in Brooklyn, teams will race a second leg of 350nm to Portland, Maine where the race will culminate the weekend of June 11th in Portland with the third a final leg, an inshore series.
The Atlantic Cup presented by 11th Hour Racing is committed to being the most environmentally responsible sailing race in the United States. Teams, participants and race management work together to create a fully carbon neutral event. As the race grows, we will continue to seek innovative ideas and products that align with our mission and produce a truly sustainable event.