2013 Race Day preview for 2013 Atlantic Cup Leg 1

May 11, 2013

Well after 24hrs of evolving weather patterns it seems like the changes to the previous update are:

First 24 hrs = perfect sailing

Next 48 hrs = ummm, I dunno but maybe less rough?

In all seriousness, the changeover from the strong SW flow that will dominate the first part of the race to the NNW that will dictate the transition and second half of the race seems less forceful than it did yesterday.  This should make the rounding of Hatteras slightly more pleasant but I do think that the boats are going to be in for a painful upwind slog starting Sunday night continuing into Monday.

The consensus amongst the skippers is that the move after the start will be to head straight for the Gulf Stream spending most of the first day on starboard gybe as the head out of Charleston.  There is a little bit of gamesmanship though as the skippers publically seem to act like the Gulf Stream is an unknown magical place that might be part of the plan, but I’m pretty confident we’ll see them all making tracks east on the first day.

Given the downwind start to the leg, I would expect to see the fleet lead by group of #121 Lecoq Cuisine, #90 40 Degrees, #106 Gryphon Solo and #118 Bodacious Dream as, on paper, they should be the fastest in the conditions forecast early. However, there is a tremendous amount of sailing experience on #54 Dragon, #116 Icarus and #39 Pleiad Racing and I don’t expect much given up in terms of boatspeed from any of these boats.

Given the uncertainty of the weather after Day 1, I would expect a virtual restart and the early leaders will have their hands full trying to determine when to head back towards the coast as the breeze shifts North.  This may give any of the trailing boats an advantage as they can see what is developing in front of them.  Also, given the relative strength of the entire fleet I would be surprised if we saw any of the boats taking a high risk gamble and separating from the main group .

The sailors involved are too savvy to let any one boat get too much leverage and I would expect a fair bit of boat on boat decision making dictating the early tactics of the race.   The start of the race out of Charleston will be exciting and given how eager the teams seem to be, fairly intense but my prediction is that will be the first of many “restarts” during the race.  This legwill be a race with many developments and I would expect to see multiple lead changes right up to the finish in NYC.




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