Competitors in the Rolex Transatlantic Race are preparing themselves for major gale

The leaders in the Rolex Transatlantic Race have found breeze while those astern continue to wallow in light air, making five knots or less. But not for long because a big winds are on the horizon.

The fight in the Grand Prix class is seeing Robert Miller’s Mari-Cha IV jockeying for position with Charles Brown and Bill Buckley’s New Zealand yacht Maximus. Both have taken the most south-easterly route to get out into the Gulf Stream and line themselves up to make the best of the weather ahead. Joe Dockery’s smaller Carrera has been taking a more easterly route, closer to the great circle, which is the shortest course. As a result, at 1200 GMT yesterday, the latest positions showed Carrera having moved into the lead. She was 969 miles from Point Alpha, the waypoint off south-east Newfoundland, compared to 992 for Mari-Cha IV and 997 for Maximus.

Of concern for the crews at the moment is the weather ahead. “The main storm system will be coming off the Virginia coast this afternoon, and that will turn into a major gale,” says Ken Campbell of Commanders Weather. The message from Campbell is that the yachts should head south. “It is going to be a very rough two days for the fleet.”

At present, Mike Slade’s (GBR) Leopard of London is leading the Performance Cruising class 1, while the smallest boat in the fleet, the Swan 70 Stay Calm, is leading Performance Cruising class 2. Among the classics, A. Robert Towbin’s Sumurun is holding a six-mile lead over the Storm Trysail Club-chartered clipper ship Stad Amsterdam.