Newport, R.I. USA (July 14, 2011) – After racing nearly 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, the two Class 40s in the Transatlantic Race 2011 are set to provide a dramatic finish as they approach The Lizard on the south coast of England. Concise 2, skippered by Ned Collier-Wakefield (Oxford, U.K.), is just a few miles ahead of Dragon, skippered by Mike Hennessy (Mystic, Conn.), and after 16 days of racing the outcome of this duel is too close to call, even with just 100 miles to the finish line.
Concise 2 set a blistering pace in the early part of the race and left Dragon trailing by hundreds of miles. However, mid-Atlantic, as the wind evaporated around Concise 2, the six sailors making up the British youth team were helpless as Dragon came back with a fresh westerly breeze to not only catch but also overtake them. In light airs it seems that the lighter Dragon – which Hennessy is racing doublehanded with Rob Windsor (East Northport, N.Y.) – has the advantage and it could be a very close finish late tonight or in the early hours of Friday morning.
“We just passed 130 miles to go and are in the home stretch,” said Hennessy by satellite link this morning. “As expected, Concise is making us fight every inch of the way. The northern pack they are part of got a bit more wind in the early morning hours and picked up some incremental speed. As a result, Concise sits six miles in front of us on the tracker. This is going to be a fight all the way to the final gun. Racing 3,000 miles and finishing within sight of one another is what racing should be all about.”
For the last four years, Tony Lawson (Haslemere, U.K.), owner of Concise 2, has used his Class 40 as a highly successful platform for young British sailors to gain experience in prestigious offshore events. Lawson believes that the yachts still racing are crewed by the real heroes of this race.
“The superyachts in this race are too exciting for words,” said Lawson. “However, personally, the heroes of this piece have to be the amateur sailors who have left families behind, dropped classes, even given up jobs to fulfill their dream of ‘doing a transatlantic.’ On Concise 2 the physical hardship that is a Class 40, and the torment of these last few windless days, has only brought the crew closer together…made the conversation deeper, the wit sharper, and no doubt the fish and chips and that first pint in Cowes taste better. After 2,900 miles of racing there is just a few miles between us and our sister ship Dragon, it is just too close to call. There is only one certainty; there are no losers left out there. They are all winners in the Transatlantic Race 2011.”
The next yacht to finish the Transatlantic Race 2011 could well be the Volvo 60, Ambersail, whose Lithuanian team made a break well south of the chasing pack, which seems to have paid off handsomely. However, a few miles behind and with a better wind angle coming into the finish, Beau Geste, skippered by Karl Kwok (Hong Kong), and Vanquish, crewed by the Oakcliff All-American Offshore Team, are also locked in a close duel. Ambersail look to have the advantage, but they could still be caught.
In IRC Class Four, which were the yachts to take the first start in the Transatlantic Race 2011 on June 26, there is another close battle brewing. Rives Potts, Jr. (Essex, Conn.), skipper of Carina, the McCurdy and Rhodes 48, currently has a five-mile lead on the Army Sailing Association’s Archambaud 40, British Soldier, crewed by active duty members of the British Army.