Big winds expected for Rolex Transatlantic Challenge which starts tomorrow

The current weather situation shows that after a light upwind start, an intense localised depression will form just 200 miles to the south-east of Long Island giving competitors competing in tomorrow’s Rolex Transatlantic Challenge from New York winds of up to 40-50 knots ‘on the nose’ from the north-east.

Bill Biewenga, navigator on Cortwright Wetherill Jr’s 131ft (39.9m) Sariyah commented: “Two days ago and even as early as this morning it was looking like light air but the evolution of the depression appears to have changed. The depression is now set to develop over the Chesapeake Bay area tomorrow before heading north-east. Fortunately, the depression is set to continue moving north on the day of the start, providing the boats with 35-knot running conditions 24 hours into the race.”

All 20 yachts are now docked in New York, most moored alongside the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum aboard the decommissioned aircraft carrier USS Intrepid. Several other of the larger vessels competing, such as Robert Miller’s Mari Cha IV(pictured), Windrose, Drumbeat and the massive square rigger Stad Amsterdam, have had to find berthing elsewhere along Manhattan’s western shore due to their sheer size.

Crews are making their final preparations with less than 48 hours left before the start of the race, which takes them across the North Atlantic to the Lizard and on to the Needles, Isle of Wight. Many of the Grand Prix division yachts and the more competitive entrants within the Performance Cruising division have been out on the Hudson River testing new sails. For line honours favourite Mari-Cha IV, the transatlantic passage record holder, this is the first occasion many of her crew have sailed her since she was fitted with new daggerboards, said to dramatically transform her upwind performance.

On the more luxurious yachts in the Performance Cruising class, a different style of final arrangements has been underway. On Whisper, the 115ft (35.4m) yacht of Minneapolis-based investor John Fauth, two cooks have been pre-preparing meals for 24 people for 20 days. Much furniture has been taken off, art has been removed from the walls, and sculpture has been bound in bubble wrap to prevent it from getting damaged on the nearly 3,000 nautical mile crossing.