Bright sunshine and 15 knots of southerly wind greeted skippers and crews on Saturday morning in Antigua, as Volvo 60's Spirit and Venom cast their lines and headed out into the Caribbean and Atlantic waters, destination Falmouth Harbour, GBR.
After enjoying the Caribbean regatta circuit over the winter months, culminating in Antigua Race Week, both yachts are now heading north to the UK in the 60's Atlantic Challenge, a race organised by World Cruising Club especially for these two grand prix racing yachts, a non stop battle which they hope to complete in sixteen days.
Spirit, with her crew of sixteen and Venom's eighteen, have been preparing for the race over the past week, changing the yachts into ocean racing mode, removing and replacing sails, checking rigging, generators and watermakers, provisioning and stowing goods. Worn out after a tiring weeks work, everyone was pleased to be heading out to the start and get underway, the 3300 nautical mile passage seen as holiday for many onboard !
Hamish OLIPHANT owner and skipper of Spirit spent the morning in the internet café studying the weather forecasts further, determined to position Spirit into stronger winds as soon as possible, releasing the power of these awesome yachts, who are easily capable of 300 mile days in the right conditions. Confident that in 48 hours increased winds should be expected, crews were delighted that at least they might enjoy a few days of dry conditions before the decks start to get drenched, in yachts which are well known for being very wet when fully powered up, with 2.5 tons of water ballast driving the yacht forward.
With the wind from the south a start line was set allowing a windward start , the committee boat anchored close to Blacks Point and a marker buoy the outer distance, a few hundred metres from the entrance of Falmouth Harbour. With both yachts out early to raise their enormous fully battened mainsails and check the line it was great sight to see both powering along in open water, the sun glistening off their expensive high tech sails.
With the firing of the ten-minute signal both raised their headsails before charging off on a beam reach, measuring a timed run from the start line. At 5 minutes both were starting to position themselves for the pre-start, Venom from behind jockeying for the controlling position before both yachts swung their bows upto the line a few seconds after the gun, Spirit slightly ahead and quicker. Venom tacked on the line and was soon up to speed on port tack shortly followed by Venom , both yachts heading quickly off to the horizon with the offshore breeze lifting them nicely around the bottom of the island.
Position reports will be received twice daily from the yachts as well as news and stories from life aboard. Log in to the website at the address below to follow the progress of these two yachts as they head north up the Atlantic to the UK.