EDS fleet leave Cuxhaven on leg two fearful that the predicted storm-force headwinds will break either the boats or the crews in the battle to Portsmouth
Just how hard the crews drive the boats during the second leg could make the difference in the outcome of the entire race. The battle the skippers have on their hands in the upcoming leg that starts from Cuxhaven on Monday, 9 July at 1400 GMT is a predicted storm that will hit late Tuesday, early Wednesday.
After contending with light, fluky southeast winds for the race to Cuxhaven from St Malo, the forecast is for gale force winds, on the nose late Tuesday through Wednesday. The skippers would have been happy to have the same light conditions from the southeast they experienced on the race to Cuxhaven.
Commanders’ Weather, the official weather provider for the EDS Atlantic Challenge, said this morning, “This is going to be a rough race for them. These boats are not designed for gale force winds or for going to weather.” The heavy weather is developing from a storm system currently forming over Scotland, moving south to hit late Tuesday, early Wednesday.
All the skippers and crews are mentally preparing for the next leg, now a far different race than anticipated. “These are tough conditions for these boats,” Mike Golding, ECOVER skipper, confirmed. “It is going to be uncomfortable, very rough, very bumpy.” Smiling, he added, “This is going to be interesting for some of the crew who have not done any Open 60 sailing.”
FILA skipper, Andrea Scarabelli, agreed with Golding, saying that upwind conditions are very tough for their boat and they will have to work hard to try to “stay close to the next of the group.”
The key to this leg is finding a balance between driving the boat as hard as possible and keeping it in one piece. Nick Moloney, co-skipper for Kingfisher, said emphatically, “We do not want to break the boat.”
Helena Darvelid, the AlphaGirls skipper, agreed. “We will sail a conservative race. We don’t want to break anything, just get there. There is a long transatlantic race ahead.” Always philosophical, she said, “We have a strong boat.”
If there is damage to the boats during this leg, the repair process could cut into the stopover time in Portsmouth, where just three days are scheduled. Having already experienced a shortened stopover after a 24-hour-delayed arrival caused by light winds, the crews are well aware of what damage can do to their times in port.
Moloney said, “The three-hour polling [the position reporting from the EDS Atlantic Challenge Race Office posted on the Web site] is great.” He said the reports have played a huge part in positioning and that they will use the reports to decide whether to “put the pedal down or not.” The condition of the boats when they arrive in Portsmouth will be a good indication of the final outcome of the race when they finish in St Malo in August.
The fleet are due to leave Cuxhaven at 1400 GMT today.