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Posted by on Nov 15, 2010 in Multihull, Racing Sailboat, Sailboat, Sailboat Racing, UK, US |

Transatlantic Race: Don’t Miss the Finish

Virtual regatta sailboat racing presents different kinds of challenges to the solo skipper

My 60-foot catamaran has sailed nearly 4000 miles across the Atlantic and is now close reaching along the leeward side of Guadeloupe at 6.1 knots in a light breeze. Soon, I’ll be able to turn east and sail closehauled between the south end of the island and Basse Terre, then tack for the finish at Pointe-a-Pitre. Before morning, I’ll be finished…but I have a small problem right now.

My finish-line screen at the end of the Transatlantic with VirtualRegatta.com

My finish-line screen at the end of the Transatlantic with VirtualRegatta.com

I have been steering my boat for two weeks now via the Internet from my laptop computer, and currently I’m about five miles over Alabama, in a passenger jet, without a wireless connection. I think I’ve calculated the time, speed, and distance well enough that when I land in Orlando, Florida, it’ll be about the right time to tack. If I’m wrong, though, I could be aground on Basse Terre, which would be a depressing way to finish my first Route du Rhum via Virtual Regatta.

At the north end of the island, I already lost out to evo80, a boat I’ve been trading positions with for several days. Yesterday, evo80 fell in a big hole that I avoided, but then he cut the corner on me when I waited too long to jibe (I was in downtown Chicago at the time, walking off Saturday night’s dinner and Sunday morning’s brunch…what was I thinking?!) When I got aboard the plane, ev0 was about 4 miles ahead of me, but sailing a slightly wider course. For his sake, I hope he doesn’t have to take a long flight like me at the wrong time now, but who knows? Maybe he’s on the other side of the Atlantic and will doze off for a half an hour at the wrong time?

Speaking of my competitors, there are more than 250,000 virtual sailors registered for this game, so I don’t find it too discouraging that I’m just inside the top 20,000. That puts me in the top 10 percent, right? For the much smaller group playing through our Boats.com portal, there are about 60 racing a catamaran, like me. The leader, a boat name Waschti finished about two days ago (!) but, remarkably, I’ve got a shot at second! Mav Rides Again took the monohull (IMOCA 60-footer class) comfortably and also finished two days ago–actually beating Waschti across the line! The second IMOCA 60, sullilaurie, just finished this morning, and there are another 10 60s within 300 miles of the finish, including mine (both of my boats are named NorwegianWood), riding in eighth place.

We’ll round up how our Boats.com fleet did within a day or two, and try to make contact with some of the top finishers to hear how they did it!

Morning after note: I made the tack in time and actually nipped in ahead of evo80. My finish place overall? 17,713!