Race Commentary Archive: Transat 2004


Less Than a Bermuda Race To Go
June 14, 2004

It may be the start of a new week for those of us on land, but for Joe Harris aboard Wells Fargo - American Pioneer it's just another day at the office. And not a very good one as he continues to struggle with light winds and slow speeds. "The situation has not really improved much out here," Joe said in a satellite phone call. "I still do not have much wind, however if the forecast is correct things should improve a little over the next few days." Further to the north and west his rivals Kip Stone on Artforms and Jacques Bouchacourt on Okami have been having a swell time sailing in near perfect conditions, and both boats have opened up a respectable lead over Wells Fargo - American Pioneer. At the last poll Artforms was a shade under 300 miles ahead and Okami was an even 50 miles ahead. Unless something bad happens it looks as if Stone will take first place in the Monohull 50 class. He has 231 miles to sail and is expected to reach Boston late Tuesday.

"I think that Kip has sailed a great race and he deserves to win," Joe said. "But having said that I am determined to reclaim second place from Okami and I will do all I can to beat him to the finish." Despite being 50 miles back, Joe has some tricks up his sleeve. Okami has painted himself into a corner with Nova Scotia presenting itself as a large, unmovable obstacle. "It seems like Jacques will have to short tack to get by Nova Scotia," Joe said. "I have sailed in that area a few times and it's tricky sailing. There are strong currents that can be really difficult to deal with. If Jacques is to avoid them he will have to tack out of there and will be sailing at a bad angle." For the moment Wells Fargo - American Pioneer is able to clear the southern tip of the Canadian Maritime province without tacking. The forecast is for the wind to veer slightly to the south which will also play into Joe's hands, but only time will tell if he has enough sailing waters left to take back second place. "I have less than a Bermuda Race to sail and if all goes well I should be in Boston sometime on Thursday."

While Joe deals with fickle winds, there is other news to report. Swiss sailor Bernard Stamm has recovered his boat. He was forced to abandon ship last week when his keel broke off and was rescued by a passing freighter that took him to Newfoundland. Bernard immediately mounted a salvage operation and on Sunday morning they located the boat. Stamm was able to dive under the boat and cut away the mast. They then righted the boat and it is now under tow heading for St Johns, Newfoundland. Stamm is a tenacious character. He hopes to have the boat ready in time for the Vendee Globe solo, non-stop race around the world later this year.

- Brian Hancock (

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