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4 August 2019

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When the idea of a race from Galveston to Galway was first suggested, the initial impression was of “just a TransAt” but… how wrong could we have been. The designer, SOLer Renegade, in fact created for us an ocean race of two parts – first, the crossing of the Gulf of Mexico which, in itself is a fairly major achievement, given the winds that arrive from the Atlantic and swirl in a loop around the Gulf, and second, a crossing of the N Atlantic itself. What a great race! It was intended by our SRC (Sailonline Race Committee) to be a 14-18 day race and, such is the accuracy of pre-routing that our first finisher arrived in 14 days 16 hours!

For most SOLers the Gulf of Mexico was a good challenge to begin with – figuring the best way to manage the Florida Keys! The choice was either to thread through the ‘Keys or avoid them pretty much altogether. Our leaders immediately showed us that the most direct route was the most efficient! With Florida behind us, the next question was whether to head directly across the Atlantic towards Galway or, head north, hugging E Coast USA and then make a traditional TransAt, taking advantage of both the conventionally prevailing W-E flow of the northern latitudes and, of course, the shorter physical distance. A compromise on this was what chiefly occurred – perhaps with winds reflecting our changing climate, the sea crossings that have been part of history will be altered forever. SOLers are always adventurous spirits so if it were possible to re-create the tracks of our crossing, you would see that pretty much every option was attempted!

In any event, a leading pack soon developed and leaving the bulk of the fleet streaming behind, these Maestros of SOL looked to have the race well in hand – for a long while it seemed as if an all-Italian podium might be on the cards but…. by one second, that full-house was denied! Congratulations must go to our amazing podium three, and special mention to those who, but for a few seconds, might also have been victorious!

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