NEWPORT, R.I. — Like an immovable bouncer barring entry to the English Channel nightclub, the giant ridge, or zone of high pressure, continues to define this latter half of the Transatlantic Race 2019.
While the center of this huge “bubble” of light winds has retraced south gradually, its reach still extends north into the Celtic Sea (between Cornwall and southern Ireland). The latest forecasts show little prospect of it shrinking further south before the boats reach the Western Approaches.
Thus, for the next wave of boats that have spent the last week skirting the perimeter of the high, there is now no option: They must cross the high and accept a frustrating, but inevitable, down-turn in speed.
“Ordeal by ridge” has been the case since late last week for Clarke Murphy’s Rogers 82 Aegir (at right). Only this morning is the crew on board feeling some reprieve as not only are they through to the east side of it but have also “made land.”
COWES, England – In the early hours this morning, British time, a familiar VO70 shape ghosted across a pitch-black Royal Yacht Squadron finish line off Cowes, Isle of Wight. David and Peter Askew’s Wizard arrived home second in the Transatlantic Race 2019 at 00:31 UTC with an elapsed time of 10 days, 9 hours, 1 minute and 42 seconds.
The Wizard crew included owners David (Park City, Utah) and Peter Askew (Riderwood, Md.), Richard Clarke (Salt Spring, Canada), Charlie Enright (Barrington, R.I.), Joe Faneli (Middletown, R.I.), Rob Greenhalgh (Sydney, Australia), Phil Harmer (Bishops Waltham, U.K.), boat captain Chris Maxted (Newport, R.I.), navigator Will Oxley (Castle Hill, Australia), Mark Towill (Honolulu, Hi.), John Von Schwarz (Charleston, S.C.) and Mitch White (Sydney, Australia).
Wizard and her crew have great pedigree, their steed being Franck Cammas’ 2011-’12 Volvo Ocean Race winner Groupama 4. Since acquiring her in 2017 for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, they have won the 2018 Newport-Bermuda Race and earlier this year the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s Caribbean 600. Of the two finishers so far, the American VO70 is the present leader under IRC corrected time.
David and Peter Askew’s VO70 Wizard was second boat to finish the Transatlantic Race 2019 this evening. Wizard completed the 2,970 nautical mile race in Cowes on July 6 at 0031:42 UTC for an elapsed time of 10 days, 9 hours, 1 minute and 42 seconds. Wizard finished some 6 hours and 48 minutes after the 100-foot maxi SHK Scallywag.
The Wizard crew included David (Park City, Utah) and Peter Askew (Riderwood, Md.), Richard Clarke (Salt Spring, Canada), Charlie Enright (Barrington, R.I.), Joe Faneli (Middletown, R.I.), Rob Greenhalgh (Sydney, Australia), Phil Harmer (Bishops Waltham, U.K.), Chris Maxted (Newport, R.I.), Will Oxley (Castle Hill, Australia), Mark Towill (Honolulu, Hi.), John Von Schwarz (Charleston, S.C.), Mitch White (Sydney, Australia)
Wizard is guaranteed to defeat SHK Scallywag on corrected time to win IRC 1 and is in contention for the overall victory, although that decision won’t come for a few more days as more than 10 boats are still on the racecourse and Wizard owes all of them time allowance.
“Of course, it would mean a lot to all of us—David and Peter really bought into this—if we won overall honors,” said Enright, the sailing master. “We probably sailed at 90 to 95 percent of our potential. There’s really not a lot that we left on the table. Huge credit goes to navigator Will Oxley, who did a fantastic job, especially picking our way through the Gulf Stream, and to Chris Maxted, our boat captain. We had few technical issues in this race.”
COWES, England – Lee Seng Huang's 100-foot maxi SHK Scallywag entered the history books today by winning line honors in the Transatlantic Race 2019. This accolade continues a prestigious, ancient lineage started by James Gordon Bennett Jr.’s Henrietta in 1866 and since including Charlie Barr on Wilson Marshall’s record setting three-masted schooner Atlantic in 1905 to a century later, Robert Miller’s Mari Cha IV, winner of the Rolex Transatlantic Race in 2005. The New York Yacht Club organized the first race in 1866 and this year was joined by the Royal Yacht Squadron, Royal Ocean Racing Club and the Storm Trysail Club.
The Andy Dovell-designed maxi crossed the Royal Yacht Squadron line off Cowes this afternoon at 17:43:19 UTC in a passage time of 10 days, 2 hours, 13 minutes and 19 seconds. Skippered by David Witt, the Australian now living in Hong Kong, SHK Scallywag’s crew included Anniemeike Bes (Haarlem, the Netherlands), Lucas Chapman (The Junction, Australia), Tom Clout (Sydney, Australia), Nick Crones (Sydney, Australia), Pete Cumming (Warsash, U.K.), Ian Flemming (Hong Kong), Ferdinand Galleta (Bauang, Philippines), Alex Gough (Brisbane, Australia), Jack Mcartney (Paddington, Australia), Ben Piggott (Thirrol, Australia), Trystan Seal (Cilcennin, Wales), Miles Seddon (Lymington, U.K.) and Charlie Wyatt (Brisbane, Australia).
At midday UTC, Lee Seng Huang's 100-foot maxi, SHK Scallywag had just passed Portland Bill and was using her length and towering rig to defy both the current and apparent lack of breeze in the forecast. The Andy Dovell design was making 12 knots directly at Hurst Narrows and the western entrance to the Solent prior to the final 11 nautical mile leg to the Royal Yacht Squadron finish line off Cowes. She had extended her lead to 45 miles over David and Peter Askew’s VO70 Wizard, which at midday was nosing into Lyme Bay to the east of Start Point.