For Stephen Colbert and his crewmates on board the OnDeck Farr 65 The Spirit of Juno, the 2011 Charleston Bermuda Race came down to the wire. Colbert and company spent most of the last six days sailing neck and neck with their closet rival, the Shipman 63 Tucana. During the final 10 hours of action, the victory slipped from their grasp. It was a case of too little too late as the leader of Colbert Nation and his fellow crew couldn’t muster enough speed to catch Tucana.
Yesterday evening, Tucana crossed the finish line just east of St. Georges Channel on Bermuda at 7:46:12 p.m. EDT. At the time, Spirit of Juno was roughly 25 miles behind her, well within striking distance. With the respective handicap ratings factored in (Tucana rates -54 and Juno rates -33) the Shipman owes the Farr time, roughly 4.5 hours on this course, and that differential would determine the final standings. Unfortunately for Colbert and company, the winds moderated after sunset, and the Spirit of Juno wasn’t able to maintain sufficient speed to arrive at the line in time. She finished at approximately 4:00 a.m. EDT today.
The crew on board Spirit of Juno spent their initial hours on Bermuda in St. Georges Harbor, awaiting daylight. They then proceeded to motor to Hamilton Harbor and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club where, after clearing customs, Colbert was expected to talk with the media about his voyage. (Stand by for quotes in a later update.)
Meanwhile, the next boat expected to arrive under sail is Noel Sterrett’s J/130 Solarus, sailing in the Doublehanded Division with Matt Henderson as crew. As of the 7:00 a.m. position update, the duo was just 44 miles from the finish, sailing at a respectable speed of 6.2 knots. They’ll need to tap every ounce of speed they can out of this ride if they intend to beat David Skimore’s Eagles’ Wings (the other boat racing in this division). Skidmore’s boat is owed over 38 hours of time by Solarus with the handicap ratings factored in. Skidmore and his crew Barry Ling were roughly 100 miles astern of Solarus, sailing at six knots at 7:00 a.m.
And then there are the two Cruising Division boats: Rob Turkewitz’s First Light and Bernie Schapiro’s Pied-a-Mer. As of 7:00 a.m., both boats were over 100 miles out, just south of the rhumbline, sailing in a southeasterly direction at reasonably good speeds (6 knots). Schapiro’s team was 115 miles from the finish, with Turkewitz and company just 24 miles farther out. There’s a strong chance that both can finish the race by early tomorrow.