On a stunning day in New York City, with clear blue skies and a light 6-8 knot breeze, the Neutrogena Sailing Team, with co-Skippers Spaniard Guillermo Altadill and Chilean José Muñoz and their additional crew members won the prologue race by a mere 1 minute and 25 seconds over the French Safran Sailing Team. The race committee elected to shorten course and finish the race at the Verrazzano Suspension Bridge due to the lack of wind in the Hudson River.
As predicted the wind was extremely variable throughout the race, making it a tough tactical challenge for the three teams. Safran led the fleet out of Newport Bay and during the night Neutrogena overtook them and they both pulled out a bit of distance over GAES. In the early hours, the battle between the first two boats started and continued right until the finish line. Until the line at Verrazzano Bridge, Neutrogena and Safran were neck and neck, gybing downwind towards the bridge. They then split gybes at the end, Neutrogena favouring the left and Safran the right and so all bets were off and nobody could call it until they came together again for the finish line. A mere 1 minute and 25 seconds split 1st and 2nd place.
“It was an intense and fun race, a real match race. A couple of miles from the finish line, we jumped right in front and thanks to some aggressive tactics, with continuous gybing, we managed to win the race. The conditions were demanding, with almost continuous sail peels going on. It has been a great opportunity to compare the speed of our boat with the others.” explained Neutrogena Skipper Guillermo Altadill.
José Munoz, co-skipper added “I am very happy to get to New York. It’s my first time and I’m so lucky to come in on a sailing boat and winning the race! Guillermo is a really great tactician, he knows such a lot and is also very demanding. In some manoeuvres we suffered from lack of experience as a crew but we getting better. “
Second placed Safran Skipper Marc Guillemot spoke about the race : “ We had great conditions, a flat sea and wind throughout the race. It was very motivating to have such a close fight with Neutrogena all the way, they performed a little bit better than us throughout so its only fair they won, they were strategically better with the current. It was really nice to share the steering and tactical decisions with Morgan. It is the second time that Safran comes to New York and this time in sunshine so even better.”
Marc’s co-skipper on Safran Morgan Lagraviere, added his thoughts, “Awesome conditions, with lots of opportunities for tactical moves, I really enjoyed this trip. However being seven people onboard is not normal for us and so it was not so easy to adapt, and in reality we were not really able to be fully in ‘competition’ mode but it was still a great race.”
GAES arrived in third place joining the festival and welcome into New York. Anna Corbella, Co-Skipper summed up her race, "It has been interesting, despite the few problems we've had. In the evening we made a tactical error, sailing further from the coast than the other boats. Also sailing with four crew members is very positive, eight eyes looking around see more than only four. I was very impressed to get to New York, I had never been here before, and to arrive sailing in front of the Statue of Liberty was incredible. "
Gerard Marín, Co-Skipper with Anna on GAES added: " We were doing very well until the evening time, but maybe we went too far offshore. Then we managed to catch two fishing lines, and we had to cut the second one from the keel early this morning – that was a pity. It is the first time I am in New York and it’s really impressive to be moored here in the centre of Manhattan. "
The final positions and finishing times (New York local time) were :
1st - Neutrogena – 1346 hrs and 55 seconds local time
2nd Safran – 1338 hrs and 20 seconds
3rd GAES – 1508 hrs
Great news too for Hugo Boss as they re-stepped their mast in Newport today and will make their way to New York as soon as they are happy with everything and ready to go.
Nandor Fa and Marcell Goszleth onboard Spirit of Hungary are also making great progress towards New York and hope to arrive there on Thursday 29th May.