The French/Italian duo of Catherine Pourre and Pietro Luciani aboard the Class 40 Eärendil have won the first offshore leg of the 2018 Atlantic Cup, from Charleston, South Carolina, to New York City. Finishing second in the 640-mile doublehanded classic, were U.S. sailors Micah Davis and Rob Windsor aboard Amhas.
Leg 2, which is also doublehanded and finishes in Portland, Maine, gets underway this Saturday. The third and final portion of the semi-annual East Coast regatta, a two-day fully-crewed inshore series off Portland, takes place the weekend of June 9-10.
The 11 teams representing nine different countries got off to a picture-perfect start in Charleston Harbor this past Saturday, with sunny skies and a 15-knot southwesterly that provided powered-up sailing out into the Atlantic.
Soon afterward, however, the tactical challenges of the event became evident, as three groups quickly formed: one heading farther east to try and catch a boost from the Gulf Stream, another sticking close to the rhumbline, and another in between.
Forty-eight hours into the race, lighter breezes resulted in a consolidation of the fleet and what was essentially a restart off the coast of Maryland, after which the 11 crews struggled to play the shifts in the light air off the New Jersey shore.
It was during his transition that Eärendil and Amhas were able to break away, putting around 40 miles between them and the rest of the fleet, although there was still plenty of fluky, frustrating sailing to go before they crossed the finish line in New York Harbor.
“It was a more difficult situation when it was windy and we were downwind,” said Pourre, whose boat completed the course in just over 77 hours. “We had to hand steer because the autopilot wasn’t good in tough winds.”
"It's really hard to do well in all three legs,” said Windsor. “I think [Eärendil] is really fast. But at number two we're in a good position, and there is a lot to be sailed and who knows what the next leg will bring?"
Founded in 2011, the Atlantic Cup, which is sailed exclusively aboard Class40 monohulls, is the longest offshore race in the Western Atlantic, covering 1,008 miles in all as it spans much of the Eastern Seaboard. It is also the only race to include roundings of both Cape Hatteras and Cape Cod.
The boats will be berthed for the rest of this week at the Liberty Landing Marina on the Hudson River, directly across from the lower tip of Manhattan. Starting at 0900, Thursday, May 31, there will be a “Kids Day” at Liberty Landing. There will also be a Pro-Am regatta in New York Harbor starting at 1300 on Friday, June 1.
The Leg 2 start is scheduled for 1400 on Saturday, June 2. For the latest news and complete detail on both the New York and Portland stopovers, click here.