The 2018 Antigua Bermuda started on Wednesday 9th May off Fort Charlotte, Antigua. Brilliant sunshine and 20 knots of trade winds combined to produce a spectacular start for the 14 yachts and 96 sailors competing in the 935 nautical mile oceanic race. Eager to begin the adventure, a highly competitive start saw the fleet fully powered up, beating into the Caribbean swell. At Green Island the fleet eased sheets, hoisting downwind sails and accelerating into a power reach that should last for at least 48 hours.
“We have a real variety of yachts racing this year, but the teams are peppered with some highly accomplished sailors,” commented Les Crane Antigua Bermuda Race Chair. “At the start Varuna, Teasing Machine and Warrior went right inshore to get the lifting pressure, but just about the whole fleet got away to a good start. The high performance yachts will be fast, but this race is not just about grand prix racing yachts. We have teams entered like the Volvo 60 Challenger which has just three crew, 20 feet each! Also Pata Negra which is heading to Newport for the race to Bermuda, and the all-Irish crew on Irene III who will be smiling all the way to Bermuda. Safety is also a key area; all of the fleet have trackers on board and if a team has a problem, there are nearby yachts to offer assistance. We had a great party in Nelson's Dockyard last night supported by Goslings Rum and another one to look forward to at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.”
Organised by the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club in association with Antigua Sailing Week and supported by the Bermuda Tourism Authority and Goslings Rum.
Record breaking conditions are forecast for the second edition of the Antigua Bermuda Race, with strong easterly trades expected to provide fast reaching conditions for the first two days of the 935 nautical mile oceanic race. High pressure east of Bermuda is expected to decrease the gradient wind, shifting south to create tactical lighter running conditions for the finish into Bermuda.
The American turbo-charged Volvo 70 Warrior, sailed by Stephen Murray Jr. is expected to be the front runner and their current estimated elapsed time is inside the record set last year of 3 days, 20 hours, 32 mins, 41 secs.
“Sailors superstition prevents me from predicting elapsed time, but we are optimistic we can shave off quite a bit of time from last year,” commented Warrior's Stephen Murray Jr. “Our goals are a repeat of last year's grand slam; winning CSA, IRC and a new course record, and we would also love to be the first recipient of the new Warrior Trophy for best IRC performance. We are so excited to have great competition from some very hot boats. This year, we will have our work cut out for us to beat Varuna and Teasing Machine; two proven winners in grand prix racing. As always, we hope to get recognition to the mission of Warrior Sailing, helping veterans through the sport of sailing. A strong showing against this stiff competition will hopefully spread the word about Warrior Sailing.”
The second edition of the 935-mile oceanic race will start off Fort Charlotte Antigua on May 9th, 2018 and will have a new trophy. The Warrior Perpetual Trophy will be won by the boat scoring the lowest corrected time under IRC.
The Antigua Bermuda Race holds a special place for the American Volvo 70 Warrior. Skippered by Stephen Murray Jnr, Warrior was the overall winner under IRC for the inaugural race and set the outright race record of 3 days 20 hours 32 minutes 41 seconds. Warrior was in fine form in last month's RORC Caribbean 600, finishing runner-up for monohull line honours and taking joint third overall under IRC in a fleet of 84 yachts.
"Warrior's first race was the 2017 Antigua Bermuda Race, so most of the personnel have been together for a year now and we have gelled together as a team," commented Stephen Murray Jnr. "Warrior is sponsored by my family for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and for the benefit of Warrior Sailing which assists wounded veterans in their recovery through the sport of sailing. As any sailor knows, sailing is very therapeutic but also there is a teamwork element to sailing that many of the wounded warriors miss."