May 21, 2011
The eighth edition of the biennial race from Charleston, South Carolina to Hamilton, Bermuda begins tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. out on Charleston Harbor. Eleven yachts are entered, ranging in size from 41 feet to 65 feet. Among the fleet are racers, cruisers, and four boats sailing in the doublehanded division (just two sailors on board).
The course of the race takes the boats 777 nautical miles due East to the Onion Isles of Bermuda. En route, sailors will have to navigate the challenges of the Gulf Stream and the ever present Bermuda High, an expansive high-pressure system that often means light winds. For additional information, images and race updates, log on to the event's website: www.charlestonbermudarace.com.
The 2011 Charleston Bermuda Race is presented by OnDeck Group U.S. in affiliation with the South Carolina Maritime Foundation and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. This race is part of an extensive maritime celebration in historic Charleston that includes the Antigua Charleston Race, the Velux 5 Oceans Race, and Charleston HarborFest. Over 15,000 people are expected to visit Charleston's waterfront Maritime Center the week before and during the start of the 2011 Charleston Bermuda Race. The arrival of the fleet in Bermuda will trigger a three-day celebration, with events sponsored by the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, the Bermuda Ministry of Tourism, Goslings Rum and OnDeck.
Other sponsors of the 2011 Charleston Bermuda Race include Bauer International, Chelsea Clock, and Garden & Gun Magazine.
OnDeck Sailing and OnDeck Ocean Racing are part of the OnDeck group of companies with bases worldwide: UK: Gosport Marina and Cowes, Isle of Wight. Portugal (Vilamoura); Antigua (Falmouth); USA (Charleston, South Carolina)
From its newly-established U.S. base in Charleston, OnDeck offers a comprehensive range of sailing services including adventure sailing and transatlantic crossings; racing in UK and Caribbean regattas; match racing and regattas organized for corporate and private groups; team building and leadership development and corporate entertaining as well as RYA registered sailing schools (US Sailing-registered at the Charleston office); charter; worldwide boat sales and boat management.
May 23, 2011
FISHING AND FUN AS THE FLEET GAINS GROUND
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA (May 23, 2011)-Aeolus, the wind god of Greek mythology, appears to be pleased with the yachts sailing in the biennial Charleston Bermuda Race. On Sunday night, the offshore winds increased and everyone in the fleet began making substantial progress toward Bermuda after a very spotty Saturday night. It's also evident that Nereus, the Greek god of the sea's rich bounty, has also been favoring the racers as well.
To date, three boats have reported catching fish as they speed their way to the Onion Isles. On board Tucana, the Shipman 63 that Hank Hofford and his wife Susan Ford and their family crew are racing (along with a few friends and guests), the crew reported catching two tuna. In their brief text message to shore, they wrote "Caught two tuna, all is well on board."
Comedian Stephen Colbert, sailing aboard the Farr 65 Spirit of Juno, which moved into the overall lead early this morning, also reported catching fish. In an e-mail sent last night he wrote:
"Dear land-based life forms, fantastic day. We started the day with windless bobbing from 4:00 a.m. until 8:00 a.m. We punctuated this inertia by catching, on a hand line, two mahi-mahi, a very beautiful fish-fish! They both were laid to rest in a small Tupperware coffin surrounded by lime juice and chopped onions. Spent the afternoon dodging wind holes and watching dolphins play in our bow wake. We've also been introducing our English crew to the joys of grits. They are dubious, but too polite to admit they tossed it overboard. We are on four hour watches and lucky to get three hours' sleep at a time. Those of you familiar with totalitarian regimes will remember that sleep deprivation is one way that dictators break their enemies."
"We are in good position thanks to our skipper, Tim Scarisbrick, first mate Bertie Whitley and second mate Chris Miller. We all smell wonderful. See you in Bermuda!"
Colbert and his Team Audi on Juno crewmates were blasting along toward Bermuda at 8-plus knots as of the midday position updates today. Spirit of Juno is among the most northerly boats in the fleet. The boat farthest to the north, David Skidmore's Morgan Out Island 41 Eagles' Wings, was moving along nicely as well, heading northeast at over 9 knots.
Skidmore's wife Mary e-mailed race headquarters to relay a message from on board. She said that the boat has been experiencing electrical problems and Skidmore has had to run his engine for up to 12 hours each day to keep all the electronics working.
On board Colbert's chief rival, the Spirit of Minerva, which is under charter to the comedians close friend Steve Wherry, all appears to be well. Wherry wrote in an e-mail yesterday: "Day 1 is over and what a great time Team Southern Tide is having. Winds have been sporadic, giving us time to jump overboard to cool off in the crystal clear water. We've had pods of up to 40 dolphin with us, jumping, somersaulting, and doing other dolphin tricks. We keep hoping for more breeze to take advantage of this huge mast and big waterline...still hoping!"
Back on shore, 25-year-old Rory Faulkner, the former captain of the Spirit of Juno who suffered a collapsed lung just before the race began and had to disembark unexpectedly, is faring much better now. "I'm hoping that I can be discharged today," he said via phone from his hospital room at the Medical University of South Carolina. "My plan is to get out, rest for a day, and then see if the doctors will clear me to fly to Bermuda and meet the boat. I've got my fingers crossed." Regarding the Spirit of Juno's impressive progress, Faulkner said: "It's fantastic watching the boat doing well. I've got Internet access right here in the room, and I've been able to follow their progress. It's really impressive to see them staying up there ahead of one Shipman and even with the other, particularly since it's been a light air race so far, and Juno goes much better in a breeze."
As of the most recent position reports this afternoon, the leaders had slowed down significantly, but Race Director Bjorn Johnson said he expected that to be a temporary situation. Johnson said that weather data from Weather Routing, Inc., indicates stable winds for the next three days.
The 2011 Charleston Bermuda Ra
May 24, 2011
HIGH STAKES ON THE HIGH SEAS IN THE CHARLESTON BERMUDA RACE
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA (May 24, 2011) - As of the mid afternoon position update today, it was evident that the lead boat - the Hofford-Ford team on board the Shipman 63 Tucana - was making a move to distance itself from race-long rival Spirit of Juno, the OnDeck Farr 65 that is under charter to the self-acclaimed "world's greatest sailor," comedian Stephen Colbert. The leader of Colbert Nation and his crewmates have hounded Tucana for the majority of the race, staying within six miles of them much of that time, but the situation began to shift after noon today.
On board Tucana, it's likely that the two most avid racing sailors among the crew - Michael Miller and Dan Valoppe (both of Charleston) - are constantly trimming the sails and squeezing every ounce of performance they can out of this all-carbon-fiber machine. Miller is a professional sailor who once campaigned for the Olympics, and Valoppe is a professional yacht delivery captain. Together, they possess significant expertise in optimizing sailing performance. As of the most recent position reports from Yellowbrick, Tucana was nearly 15 miles ahead of her rival, and moving almost two knots faster.
Back on shore in Charleston, David Browder has been watching the fleet's progress very closely. Browder, who founded this race in 1997 along with his friend Rick Hennigar, said earlier today: "It's been very interesting to watch. They're all right there together. I fully expect Juno to make a move and sail past Tucana any time now. She's capable of doing that, and should be able to pass. But because of the boats' relatively close positions, I think it's all going to be decided by the handicap ratings." Browder explained that once the handicaps were factored in, it's likely that Tucana would win the Racing Division honors. "Unless we see something dramatic happen with the weather, and that doesn't look very likely given the forecasts we're seeing, I suspect Tucana will correct out ahead of Juno."
Meanwhile, Vladimir Zinchenko and his crew on board the other Shipman 63 in the race, Yanosha, have begun to make a move as well. Zinchenko crossed the starting line in third place on Saturday and since that time has been engaged in a tight contest with the other OnDeck Farr 65, the Spirit of Minerva. But over the past three hours, Zinchenko and his crew of OnDeck clients have begun to edge away from the Farr.
Farther back in the fleet, as of the 3:00 p.m. position update, Bernie Schapiro's Beneteau 411 Pied-a-Mer was sailing almost within sight of Rob Turkewitz's Cherubini 44 First Light. In a ship-to-shore call via sat phone, Schapiro said he had seen Turkewitz's boat on the horizon earlier in the day. He described the sailing conditions as "lovely. We've got 8.5 knots of wind right out of the East. There's not a cloud in the sky and just a little rolling swell. We're moving along at almost 6.5 knots, maybe five miles from the mid way point to Bermuda, so we're getting there."
Schapiro said that his boat had been on starboard tack ever since leaving the Charleston Harbor jetties. He added that his navigator, John Watkins, was in the process of adjusting the boat's course to steer back closer to the rhumbline, some four miles south of Pied-a-Mer's 3:00 p.m position.
Meanwhile, sources at the race's official weather service - Weather Routing, Inc. - indicated that the southwest winds would stay strong throughout the night, but begin to weaken by midday on Wednesday. That's not good news for the heavier boats in the fleet. Look for Yanosha and Tucana to continue making gains.
For race updates and tracking, visit www.charlestonbermudarace.com and check the race's Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/charlestonbermudarace.
May 25, 2011
TIGHT ACTION AS THE FLEET CHARGES TOWARD BERMUDA
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA (May 25, 20110)-Transitional winds shifting counter-clockwise from the southwest are adding a new dimension to the action out on the North Atlantic where the 11 boats in the biennial race from Charleston to Bermuda is now in its fifth day. At the head of the fleet, Hank Hofford, his wife Susan Ford, and their mostly family crew on board the Shipman 63 Tucana continue to hold the boat-for-boat lead as of the noon position updates today. They've held this position almost since leaving the Charleston Harbor jetties, some 550 miles astern. But the 15-mile margin they had built over their closet rival as of yesterday evening, has shrunk by half. As this afternoon wears on, it looks likely that Tucana may surrender the lead to her sistership, Vladimir Zinchenko's Yanosha. And just 15 miles to the north, Stephen Colbert and his team of friends on board the OnDeck Farr 65 Spirit of Juno are within striking distance.
Yesterday evening, race headquarters received several updates from the fleet, including a barrage of images sent from on board Rob Turkewitz's classic ketch First Light. Accompanying those images (including one of crewmember Nick Shahid proudly displaying a large Mahi Mahi caught on a handline) were several descriptions of the action over the past several days, submitted by crewmember Jay Waddell. Here is an excerpt:
"Day 3: We've seen large swarms of Portuguese man-of-wars both days, which Captain Rob reminded us are in fact fellow sailors, as their large, fin-shaped bodies glide with the wind. We also spotted a pair of rare Bermuda Longtail birds, which reminded us of our ultimate goal that we're getting closer to every minute. Dolphins are still riding our bow and creating dazzling streams of bio luminescence on our night watches.
"We began a swift run downwind about mid-afternoon on Day 4. We've raised both the staysail and the mizzen staysail and are now under an absolutely beautiful five sail-rig that's keeping our velocity within a knot of the apparent wind. This is at least in part due to our successful entry to a cold eddy spiraling off the Gulf Stream - a vindication of Captain Rob and Navigator Jim Hackett's plan to make use of these eddies to boost our velocity though it meant taking a significantly different route than the rest of the fleet initially. After keeping track of the rest of the fleet for the first two days and watching their northerly progress vs. our southerly progress, we were surprised to see at least one other boat had made a drastic southerly tack. They're now following a few miles behind us under spinnaker."
From on board the OnDeck Farr 65 Spirit of Minerva, which is under charter to Steve Wherry and several friends, came the following update. Wherry wrote: "72 hours into the race. I'm afraid the crew is beginning to get a little anxious given that we are only half way to Bermuda and previous optimistic transit time projections had us finishing the race in as little as 60 hours with the right wind conditions, which so far we have not had. Our race competitors are facing similar conditions, we know, so we're keeping our heads down and doing our best to press on despite the slow overall progress. Although we are frustrated with Mother Nature's meager wind allowance, she has not forgotten us. Today we saw pilot whales at morning and again in the afternoon just off both sides of our boat. It also has been fascinating to see the many Man o' War jellyfish here and there, looking just like miniature mariners flying their sails. One more thing - out this far at sea, the ocean swells become remarkably massive and distinct, giving a real impression of terrain - peaks and valleys - as we make our way to Bermuda. Best of luck and following winds to our competitors."
Race Director Bjorn Johnson was en route to Bermuda today via air, but he offered the following summation before departing: "The transitional situation with the winds will likely shuffle the order of the standings among the leaders. And given the changing conditions, we don't expect anyone to finish until later in the day on Thursday, if not after that."
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May 26, 2011
MADDENING WINDS WITH BERMUDA JUST A DAY AWAY
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA (May 26, 2011)-As the 60-plus sailors participating in this eighth edition of the Charleston Bermuda Race endure their sixth day at sea, it's clear that Aeolus the Greek wind god has taken a powder. As of midnight last night, the fleet began running out of breeze, and the situation appeared to be widespread. From the back of the fleet - where Rob Turkewitz and his crew on board the classic ketch First Light continue to chase Bernie Schapiro's team on this 41-foot Pied-a-Mer - to the front, average speeds dropped to the low single digits, with some crews witnessing their speed gauges plummet to a half knot.
As of the 1:00 p.m. position update today, Stephen Colbert and his mates on board the OnDeck Farr 65 Spirit of Juno continued to maintain the top spot (with the handicaps applied). After a very slow morning with little progress, they had begun to pick up a minor amount of speed and make some headway toward their anxiously awaiting fans in Bermuda. At that time, Colbert and company were 166 miles from the finish, moving at almost two knots.
Earlier yesterday, the leader of Colbert Nation sent an e-mail to race headquarters describing the joys and frustrations of the voyage at this stage: "Wednesday, 5:04 p.m. 180 miles off Bermuda. In the last 48 hours we've seen sperm whales breaching, a family of dolphins playing in our bow wake, devil rays, and Man O' War. Now we are alone. A speck of white moving over and under fields of endless blue. Winds are light and variable. We have put up our Audi spinnaker (which is roughly the size of Denmark), and we crawl toward glory at the blistering pace of 4 knots. And by blistering, we mean what's happening to our skin in the merciless rays of the sun."
His message went on to say: "In these conditions, it is more important than ever to keep up your fluid intake, or else suffer the serious effects of dehydration: fatigue, dizziness, and hallucinations. Thankfully, so far...Spiders! Spiders everywhere! They're coming out of the sails! Kill them with fire!"
Elsewhere, it's evident that two of the yachts have opted to make a speedier trip to Bermuda by abandoning the competition and powering up their engines. Though race headquarters hadn't received confirmation regarding this assessment, both Vladimir Zinchenko's Yanosha and George Maloomian's Gratitude were shown to be heading right toward the island at speeds close to eight knots. Meanwhile, the rest of the fleet appeared beset by very light winds. Several boats were able to generate speeds of two and a half knots, but both Rob Turkewitz's First Light and Bernie Schapiro's Pied-a-Mer (at the tail end of the fleet) were moving at less than one knot. Some 20 miles south of the rhumbline, the Shipman 63 Tucana continues to make marginal progress toward Bermuda, moving along at just over two and a half knots.
The one bright spot for everyone is the official weather forecast. The analysis from Weather Routing, Inc., indicated that the winds in this region should begin to strengthen by evening and build slightly throughout the night. Race Director Bjorn Johnson has revised his estimate for the first arrival in Bermuda. He expects those boats motoring to arrive some time on Friday and those continuing to race to show up on Saturday.