Race Commentary Archive: Transat 2004


Almost Home
June 16, 2004

The wind gods have a sense of humor and they do like to play tricks. Early this morning a nice northerly wind filled in and Wells Fargo - American Pioneer was romping towards the Boston finish line at 8 knots. The mood on board was ebullient. "It's a beautiful day out here," Joe said in a satellite phone call. "Nice and sunny and we are sailing on course at a good speed." That's the good news. The bad news is that the forecast, which has been uncannily accurate for the last few days, predicts light and fickle conditions later today and tonight. "The wind is supposed to go into the west and then south later. As it does I expect to park up. Given that my best estimate for an ETA is after midnight tonight."

At the latest poll Wells Fargo - American Pioneer was 114 miles from the finish. With a stiff breeze the boat could knock those miles off in 8 or 10 hours, but a stiff breeze is not likely. There is beach weather in Boston and while a hot, humid pall hangs over the city the air is still, and that's the conditions that Joe will have to deal with before he finally gets to throw the docklines ashore.

While it's frustrating to be sailing on Wells Fargo - American Pioneer, one can only imagine how it must be to be on board Okami. French sailor Jacques Bouchacourt has had to deal with land to his west and a series of short tacks to clear Cape Sable have dropped him back more than 100 miles behind Joe. If all goes well, and in this game nothing is over until it's over, Joe should comfortably take second place in the Monohull 50 class. His arch rival Kip Stone on Artforms won the class handily when he sailed into Boston yesterday afternoon. "I want to formally congratulate Kip on his great race and victory," Joe said. "He sailed a tactically flawless race and deserves to be there ahead of the rest of us. I look forward to enjoying a cold beer with him on Thursday and I know that this will just be the first of many tussles we will have over the next few years."

- Brian Hancock (

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