Shortly before 7:00 p.m. EDT Saturday evening, Noel Sterrett and Matt Henderson, both of Charleston, SC, drove across the finish line aboard Sterrett’s dark-hulled J/130 Solarus and became the first finishers in the Doublehanded Divison. As it had been for the two finishers before them, the 777-mile course proved longer than expected due to a reoccurring high-pressure system that brought light winds to nearly the entire course. As if that weren’t challenging enough, for the final 10 miles of their trip, the duo had to contend with, not just fluky winds, but also adverse currents that circulate around Bermuda in a clockwise direction.
Sterrett and Henderson were no doubt relieved to finally cross the finish line, but now the drama truly begins for them. As they celebrate ashore this evening, they’ll ponder the progress of their main rival in this division – David Skidmore and his crew Barry Ling on board Skidmore’s surprisingly swift Morgan Out Island 41 Eagles’ Wings. As of the 7:00 p.m. update on Saturday, Skidmore and Ling were still 130 miles from the finish, sailing north at just under five knots. These two will need to finish within 38.4 hours of Solarus in order to secure the divisional win.
And a further drama is playing out just north of Eagles’ Wings’ position where Rob Turkewitz’s team on First Light continue to pursue Barry Schapiro’s crew on board Pied-a-Mer. First Light, a classically styled Cherubini 44 with a ketch rig is a superior performer in strong winds, but it’s unlikely that any of the racers will witness such conditions. As of 7:00 p.m., First Light trailed Pied-a-Mer by approximately 25 miles. Shortly before that update, Turkewitz and company had just altered course and were heading back toward the rhumbline. Unfortunately for them, their average speeds were two knots less than those of Pied-a-Mer. Both teams are expected to finish sometime on Sunday.
The official awards ceremony for this race is scheduled for Sunday evening at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.