Sunday, March 04, 2007

Celebrity Yacht Race - Passing the Canaries

We're back! After a week traveling on business (JP) or recuperating (BS) it's time to catch up on what is already being called the offshore yacht race of 2007!

The Velux 5 Oceans has turned into a coronation cruise for Bernard Stamm, after the withdrawal of both Mike Golding and Alex Thompson leaving just the experiences of Sir Robin Knox Johnson for interest value - and frankly racing is a secondary objective for this old sailor. Though of course there must be a voice whispering in his ear that he won the Golden Globe just by hanging on and not sinking and maybe that will work for him again.

So all eyes are turned to the fleet of celebrities racing their Open 60s from Monaco to Miami. There's been no shortage of drama to keep the following media circus busy, with boats dismasted, disqualified, and of course subject to a drug busting raid.

So it's good to be able to report the boats have in our absence been sailing well in the trade winds from Gibraltar to the Canary Islands. As can be seen in the exclusive Google Earth based race viewer (above) the fleet have split into two apart from one boat behaving very oddly. No doubt the full story on this ocean wanderer will be told by BS when he finishes his mini-break in Tenerife.

The two main packs are betting on wind or distance, with most heading west-south-west, but two dodging between the islands. As can be seen in the forecast from Stormsurf below the wind is generally stronger to the South where the trades really kick in. But the shortest distance is actually slightly north of West.

So what is the best tactic? Is it to head south for the wind and take the hit of longer distance? Time will tell.

The one thing that seems undeniable is that us Brits are about to be hit by another Atlantic storm, the sort that makes my floor to ceiling windows howl like an orphaned wolf.

Time to batten down the hatches. And have a nice cuppa.

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