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21 May 2005, 08:58 am
Gale Force Winds Cause Start To Be Delayed
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Rolex Transatlantic Challenge 2005
New York, USA

A severe depression that will be centred off Cape Cod tomorrow - potentially producing headwinds gusting up to 50 knots - has caused the Race Committee to delay the start of the Rolex Transatlantic Challenge. A new start time has been provisionally set for 1400 EDT Sunday 22 May 2005.

At the Captains' Briefing in the New York Yacht Club's Model Room yesterday evening, David TUNICK, Chair of the Technical & Compliance Subcommittee for the Rolex Transatlantic Challenge, gave the reasons for the decision: 'We looked at the weather all week. We not only monitored the National Weather Service ourselves, but we also took advice from two professional weather services. Their advice, coming to us independently this morning, was to postpone the start. The reason is that there were two lows out there that looked as if they might be merging - a double whammy. With the history of the Sydney-Hobart and the Fastnet, they considered it highly irresponsible of the New York Yacht Club to send off the race tomorrow.'

Tunick added that many of the top skippers taking part in the Rolex Transatlantic Challenge had spoken to him during the day, also urging him to postpone the start. 'I was pleased to hear that advice, and it was on that advice that the decision was taken.'

Mike SANDERSON, racing helmsman of line honours favourite Mari-Cha IV gave his views: 'If it had gone to a vote, we would have voted to go, because we think we're battle-ready. But I think it is smart what they have done. There is no point in burning out half the fleet in one fell swoop. Time will tell what the weather does in the following days. I think we will get away Sunday. Three days into it, we should get good breeze again, but on the wind.'

Mike SLADE felt his water-ballasted 90-foot (29.9m) Leopard of London would have handled the conditions had the start not been postponed but was happy with the decision. 'As the owner, I am quite relieved. When you hit the Gulf Stream, if there is a northeasterly coming down at you and the Gulf Stream coming from the south-southwest, you have wind against tide. And then you have a shelf, as well, over the Grand Banks - then you're asking for some serious weather.'

A start for Sunday looks promising, says Tunick. 'We have been looking at the weather this afternoon and have been in touch with both our weather services. We will be looking at it again tomorrow morning. All I can say is it is not looking too bad for Sunday.'

The Rolex Transatlantic Challenge is sponsored by Rolex and also by Moran Towing Corp., Sandy Hook Pilots, P&O Ports North America, and MedLink. The race is supported by the City of New York and Mayor Michael BLOOMBERG. Showboats International is the event's official marine publication; program sponsors include Rolex, North Fork Bank and Holland Jachtbouw.

Regatta News. Image: MARI CHA IV and the Statue of Liberty, © Daniel Forster/Rolex.
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