After the first night at sea for the international fleet in the Antigua Bermuda Race the pace is relentless. The leading teams Warrior and Varuna are now over 300 miles offshore, blast reaching through two metre swell in the Atlantic Ocean. Warrior was observed to be hitting a top speed of 25 knots last night. At 1200 UTC on Day Two, the turbo-charged Volvo 70 Warrior, sailed by Stephen Murray Jr. had averaged 18 knots since the start of the race and will achieve a 24 hour run of about 450 miles; well inside record pace. Jens Kellinghusen's German Ker 56 Varuna is also set for a 400 mile run in 24 hours. Varuna is 30 miles behind Warrior but is estimated to be leading the fleet after IRC time correction.
The most easterly of the chasing pack is Giles Redpath's British Lombard 46 Pata Negra, skippered by Oliver Heer. Pata Negra's crew include Gareth Glover, two-time skipper in the Clipper Round the World Race and the rest of the crew are all Oliver’s friends from Switzerland, and will be celebrating his 30th birthday today: “I love to sail, but it does take me away from my friends and family, so when I knew I would be at sea for my 30th, what better way to celebrate than with friends racing to Bermuda!” commented Oliver before the race.
The most westerly team is Arnt Bruhn's German Class40 Iskareen.
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."
The fleet is lining up for the Atlantic Anniversary Regatta (AAR) which starts off Bermuda on July 8th 2018 to cross the Atlantic ocean. All competitors of the legendary Antigua Bermuda Race are invited to join the AAR fleet and make the passage to Europe combined to meet competition, safety and fun. Organizers will assist to transfer different ratings as easy as possible. Amongst other offshore bullets, like "Rambler88", "Teasing Machine", "Outsider" or "Varuna", "Malizia", Class 40s "RED2 and "Mariejo" or the TP52 "ROCKALL V" there will be a strong competition in the building fleet. The North Atlantic is expected to deliver prime- conditions for offshore sailing.
The crews will be battling their way through the Atlantic playground, leading the yachts from Bermu- da to Germany. Once they crossed the finish-line off Cuxhaven, a massive welcome by the Norddeutsche Regatta Verein (NRV) awaits the crews. The AAR celebrates the 150th anniversary of the NRV, so all competitors can expect a well setup up reception and some great days of celebration in Hamburg. The AAR itself will start on 8th of July 2018 in the crystal clear waters off Bermu- da, leading the competitors through a time-gate south of England to compete for the official speed record (Bermuda - The Lizard), follow the Channel and finish at Cuxhaven, the entrance of river Elbe. All yachts will be welcomed at Hamburg, directly in the heart of the vibrant maritime "Hansestadt", where a public race village will be the platform for events, hospitality and tremendous presence in direct vicinity of the new sight-seeing highlight, the "Elbphilharmonie", attracting thousands of spectators.