Over the weekend, the more easterly boats in the northern group of the fleet tucked into the Trade Winds while the western pack have yet to taste the north-east breeze. Although the endless headwinds have ceased, the 12 days of slamming upwind left a legacy for Giovanni Soldini and Pietro d’Ali on Telecom Italia with the failure of the upper swivel on their forestay furler. Fortunately, as the headstay crashed to the deck, the inner forestay held the mast in place and in the 0800 GMT position poll this morning, the Italian duo are making just over eight knots, 52 miles behind the race leader.
South of Telecom Italia, the current race leader, Tanguy de Lamotte and Adrien Hardy on Initiatives-Novedia have crossed the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and at the same latitude as the southern tip of Florida the French duo are continuing south-west towards the mandatory race gate off the island of St. Barts making the best speed in the northern group of 12.5 knots in approximately 16 knots of south-easterly breeze. Behind the race leader by 92 miles, Bruno Jourdren and Bernard Stamm on Cheminées Poujoulat in 3rd and Damien Seguin and Armel Tripon on 4th placed Cargill-MTTM have finally separated after sailing in close formation for the majority of the past week with Seguin and Tripon opting to drop south on Sunday afternoon and slipstream Initiatives-Novedia. Since this move south, Jourdren and Stamm on Cheminées Poujoulat have built a 30 mile lead over their French rivals on Cargill-MTTM with both boats currently averaging 11 knots.
Separated by just over 100 miles and in the same ESE breeze of around 16 knots, the Anglo-Australian team of Tim Wright and Nicholas Brennan on Sail4Cancer hold 5th place with a 61 mile lead over Peter Harding and Miranda Merron on 40 Degrees with the Finnish duo of Jouni Romppanen and Sam Öhman on Tieto in 7th currently 44 miles off the starboard quarter of 40 Degrees while Harding and Merron average the best speed in the trio of 11.6 knots.
Flanking the main body of the fleet, Felipe Cubillos and Daniel Bravo Silva in 8th on Desafio Cabo de Hornos hold the northern station while Denis Lazat and Frédéric Nouel on PLAN in 10th maintain their southern position and are enjoying the Trade Winds, while the Chileans in the north must wait a little longer for the north-easterly breeze. In 9th place, 588 mile behind the lead boat, Jacques Fournier and Jean-Edouard Criquioche on Groupe Picoty have taken the northerly option and, like the Chilean duo, will have to wait for the Trades while Stephen Card and Shaun Murphy on ORBIS further south in 11th reported earlier that they have already entered the north-easterly breeze.
Meanwhile, furthest north in the fleet, Patrice Carpentier and Victor Maldonado on Crédit Maritime in 15th place are in the grips of the Azores High which has returned to its traditional location over the remote group of islands and Yves Eclaret and Lionel Regnier, the fleet’s back markers on Vale Inco Nouvelle Calédonie, may have just linked with the Trade Winds. The southern group in the fleet are currently converging on the northern pack with Erik Nigon and Marc Jouany on Axa Atout Coeur Pour Aides in 12th place 712 miles behind the lead boat and 113 miles now separate Nigon and Jouany, David Consorte and Aubry Arnaud in 13th on Adriatech and Mike West and Paul Worswick on Keysource in 14th place with the British duo continuing to poll the highest speed average in the fleet at 13 knots.
Desafio Cabo de Hornos
“We don’t know how much wind we have but I think it’s around 20 knots and we’re reaching at 90 degrees, so we’re going quite fast, it’s comfortable and everything is fine. I think we’re going to sail more together with the rest of the fleet although I think, more or less, we’ll keep our position. We’re in perfect condition, we’ve slept well and we’re sailing in a direction so the boat isn’t slamming all of the time.”
The Mayas were the first to cultivate the cocoa bean in the 17th century BC on the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. The divine drink xocoatl made from cocoa was said to nourish man after death, and its life-giving and aphrodisiac properties were already well known. Beans were dried, ground, mixed with hot water and then flavoured with chilli, spices or vanilla.
Spaniard Hernan Cortés disembarked in Mexico in 1519, conquering the New World. He was received like a God. He discovered xocoatl.
When Cortés returned to Spain in 1528, he described the virtues of this new beverage to King Charles I of Spain: “One cup of this precious drink enables a man to walk for an entire day without eating.”
The first commercial cocoa cargos reached Spain in 1585 but it was not until the time of Anne of Austria, Queen of Louis XIII of France and daughter of the King of Spain, that the drink reached France. Courtesans in Versailles adored chocolate.
Solidaire du Chocolat
Michel Kleinjans and Roaring Forty crossed the Leg 5 finish line of the Portimão Global Ocean Race after 20 days 22 hours 51 minutes and 28 seconds of racing from Charleston, South Carolina, on the final, North Atlantic section of the 33,000 mile circumnavigation.Two hours before Kleinjans crossed the finish line, the double-handed skippers in the fleet left the Marina de Portimão VIP pontoons at the Tivoli Hotel and motored out through the entrance of the River Arade, hoisted sail and set off to greet the fleet’s solo sailor led by a high-powered RIB carrying the Kleinjan’s family and journalists. Also on the RIB, representing the single-handed class, was Nico Budel, the Dutch race entrant who was forced to abandon his Open 40 Hayai having sustained dramatic keel bulb failure in the Southern Ocean on Leg 2 between Cape Town and Wellington, New Zealand.With westerly breeze, Kleinjans was forced to gybe away from the Portuguese coast, making a final gybe onto port when Roaring Forty layed the finish line and Kleinjans broad reached into the River Arade with a final flourish of pace, flanked by the overall double-handed winner Beluga Racer to starboard, the Chilean team on Desafio Cabo de Hornos to port and the British crew on Team Mowgli acting as vanguard astern of the Belgian Open 40.Immediately after crossing the line, Kleinjans snuffed the spinnaker and his friends and family climbed on board to start the celebrations. Once on the VIP pontoon, all the double-handed teams rushed to congratulate Belgium’s most popular solo sailor. Looking relaxed and full of energy, Kleinjans was eager to describe the last leg of the circumnavigation. “Apart from the stay breaking, this was quite a soft leg,” he explained, referring to the broken, starboard D1 shroud supporting the lower section of the yacht’s carbon fibre mast. “I was so far behind that it didn’t really matter,” he continues. Kleinjans left Charleston exhausted after overseeing repairs to Roaring Forty following the boat’s collision with a container ship in the later stages of Leg 4 east of Grand Bahama, and he admits that he was unable to push hard for the first few days of Leg 5.Although the jury system he rigged was strong and effective, Kleinjans had already dropped into a different weather system than the double-handed fleet. “I was just concerned I wouldn’t make the prize giving, that’s all!” he jokes. “If I had been a bit more confident about the time I had left, I think I would have stopped in the Azores for a beer!” Roaring Forty passed within a few miles Flores – the westernmost island in the Azores Archipelago – before passing north of the main group of five islands. “It was just a bit of tourism, really. I don’t think there are any shops there, so I would have had to go on to Faial, but in the end, I just kept going.”Despite dramas during every leg of the circumnavigation, Kleinjans was most concerned in the early stages shortly after the start last October. “My biggest worry was on the first leg when the V1 broke and I’d only just started the race and I really worried that the boat wasn’t strong enough to do the whole race,” he recalls. With such serious rigging failure, his confidence in the 12 year-old Open 40 boat was severely shaken. “In the end, the boat has proved to be very, very strong,” adds Kleinjans.
This is the second circumnavigation race for Kleinjans having competed in the 1985-86 Whitbread Round the World Race on a fully crewed yacht and he is immensely happy with completing a solo race around the planet, but getting back to a routine on land is a pleasing prospect. “I feel like going straight back to work right now!” he admits, laughing. “It has been a long race with a lot of days on the water and not every day is spectacular,” points out Kleinjans. “In fact, there are more days that are not so spectacular.”Despite this opinion, he doesn’t rule out a third circumnavigation. “You always think once is enough, but then you race around the world and you begin to look back and find out which bits you could have done better at and which tactical calls could have been better. It’s sort of unfinished business and you always know that you could have done better.” For the immediate future, Roaring Forty is now on the market. “The boat is for sale and as for me, I’m not sure,” says Kleinjans. “But definitely, sailing hasn’t seen the last of me, for certain!”
At 11:37:05 UTC on Saturday 20th June, Felipe Cubillos and José Muñoz took first place in Leg 5 of the Portimão Global Ocean Race on the Guillaume Verdier Design Class 40 Desafio Cabo de Hornos, crossing the finish line after 15 days 21 hours 07 minutes and 05 seconds of racing from Charleston, South Carolina, having lead the double-handed fleet from shortly after the start gun. Sailing towards Portimão from the south-west in light breeze of around 5-8 knots, the Chilean duo have now assured their place in the record books three times: as the first Chilean team to race round Cape Horn; the first Chilean team to complete a round the world race and the first team to complete the inaugural Portimão Global Ocean Race.
Crossing the line trailed by spectator and press boats with the finish horn sounded by Chilean supporter, Jorge Guajardo from Santiago, Cubillos and Muñoz quickly moored alongside the VIP pontoon at the Tivoli Hotel and the festivities began. “It’s justice in a way,” said Cubillos during an informal session with the press as the Chileans sat on the foredeck drinking champagne. “We won the longest leg and we were first to reach Cape Horn and now we have finished first in the final leg completing the circumnavigation.” The victory in Leg 3 from Wellington, New Zealand, to the tropical island of Ilhabela, Brazil, confirmed their status as world class offshore sailors, while the rounding of Cape Horn at the southern tip of Chile elevated Cubillos and Muñoz to hero status in their homeland.
Although Desafio Cabo de Hornos takes second place overall on points for the entire round the world race, there is no enmity between the Chilean team and the race victors, Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme on Beluga Racer. “It was a real honour to race with the Germans,” reassures Cubillos. “There was true sportsmanship out there on the open ocean and I will never, ever forget it,” he explains. “José and I are now friends for life with Boris and Felix. They both want to visit Patagonia and we have invited them to come to Chile where they have both become very popular throughout this race. In fact, speaking with my daughters, I’m not quite sure if they wanted us or the German guys to win!”
The Chilean and German teams will meet again later this summer for the Fastnet Race and at the Class 40 World Championships in the UK, but there is still one more piece of the Portimão Global Ocean Race that needs to be settled. “We wanted to be the fastest boat to complete the circumnavigation on elapsed time,” says Cubillos. The Chilean and German teams finished Legs 1, 2 and 3 with less than three hours between the two boats, although rudder damage sustained by Desafio Cabo de Hornos in Leg 4 stretched the separation to just over 17 hours.
The result is that Cubillos and Muñoz must finish 23 hours ahead of Herrmann and Oehme to grab the title of fastest boat around the planet. “I really don’t know if we can do it,” admits the Chilean skipper. With the German team on Beluga Racer just 126 miles from the Portimão finish line in the 1220 UTC position poll and making 6.9 knots, it could be very, very close.
As the finish line horn sounded for the Chilean team, one the happiest men in Portugal was without doubt the event’s Race Director, Josh Hall, who conceived the format for the race three years ago. “It’s fantastic to have the first boat back here after completing the circumnavigation,” said Hall as the sound of fog horns and cheers from the spectator fleet filled the air around Desafio Cabo de Hornos. “Felipe and José have sailed a terrific race, so this is a wonderful day for us and for offshore sailing.”
Shortly before finishing the Portimão Global Ocean Race, the victorious skipper of Leg 5 compiled a fascinating and entertaining list of things he had learned, or had been confirmed, during the 33,000 mile circumnavigation. Felipe Cubillos’ thoughts from the race are reproduced below:
1. About children: they’re not your possession forever. Just try and look after them and love them and – if possible – let them find their own dreams for the future without insisting that they fulfil the dreams you want them to have. Don’t expect any thanks for this. It will come; perhaps when you are a grandfather or a grandmother. But when they finally say they are happy to be your son or daughter, all the waiting will be worthwhile.
2. About your parents: never forget that they brought you into this wonderful world. So, always show them that you know how to live!
3. About the sea, the wind and nature: admire them and respect them; they are unique and we cannot replace them. As for the sea and the wind; never attempt to defeat them or defy them. They will always win. If you want to be a sailor, prepare to live in a state of permanent crisis.
4. About personal limits: they do not exist or are less than you really think. What is your limit? That’s the question. You have to reach it to find out.
5. About talent: it means nothing unless it is accompanied by determination, planning, discipline and perseverance. Talent is fleeting: determination is eternal.
6. About love: it is the best thing in the universe if you wake up every morning to a kiss and a smile. Bees and butterflies don’t go looking for a particular flower as there are plenty in the garden, but they always find the right one.
7. About society: always help your equals or those less fortunate than you are and those that have not had your opportunities. These really worthy individuals never ask for hand-outs and only really want a decent break.
8. About leadership: currently, there are no world leaders who actually fulfil any of the promises they make unless it will result in an immediate rise in popularity. I want leaders that lead: not statesmen that react to popular opinion.
9. About wealth: once you have made some money, don’t spend time trying to make more or you’ll become a slave to it.
10. About anguish and bitterness: when you believe that everything is impossible; that you are overwhelmed by problems; that you just cannot carry on, take some time to look at the stars or watch the sun rise. You will soon discover that the Black Dog runs away at the break of dawn….always!
11. About winning: if you want to win, you must be prepared to fail a thousand times and accept that you may lose everything you have gained.
12. About the present: live it intensely. Every unique moment really matters; those who live dull lives are already dead and those who live dreaming about the future don’t realise they’re alive.
13. About success and the failure: learn to live with these two imposters and confront failure – your own and that of other people. We never seem to learn from the example of others.
14. About friends: remember the friends that stick by you when things are bad. When everything is going well, these are the people to celebrate with.
15. About your country: love the place where you were born and work to make your country a better place for all and always fly your country’s flag – whether or not you are winning at football!
16. About fear: not a comfortable travelling companion. Something that can immobilise a person or drive someone crazy. History teaches us that tremendous discoveries have been made by conquering fear.
17. About God and Heaven: I believe that if we act in a kind and considerate way towards our fellow man, we could confirm our place on the waiting list if Heaven exists. If it doesn’t exist, then we will have had our own heaven on Earth. And God? He was in the Southern Ocean: in the clouds, in the storms and in the waves. We didn’t have to search him out: he was always there, inside us, within our very core.
18. About when you have doubts: identify your personal ‘Cape Horn’. Pack a small a small knapsack with the bare necessities for survival and start walking. Keep your head up and don’t stop watching the sky; you will discover the albatross there and it will show you how to take off with a tremendous effort and then fly in freedom. You will then realise that you don’t always need to fly in a flock.
19. ….and never, never give up your dreams: Pursue them enthusiastically and if you do not obtain them, it doesn’t matter. You have tried and this fact will give you strength to achieve the impossible.
20. ….and if you have the good fortune to compete against the rivals that I have encountered in this race, honour them, admire them, but give everything you can to defeat them in combat: they deserve it.
21. … and when I die, if I am given the option of reincarnation, I choose to be reborn as an albatross, destined to fly the desolate wastes of the Southern Ocean and to watch over brave sailors risking their lives.
22. ….and believe me, you should never take the words of a sailor who has just finished a round the world race too seriously. In truth, I think I know a bit more about sailing, but not much more!
As the Portimão Global Ocean Race fleet negotiate the Azores High, speeds have remained fairly consistent over the past 24 hours with averages dropping fractionally early on Tuesday morning. In the 0620 UTC position poll today (16/06), the double-handed fleet are streaming east over the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, 210 miles north of the Azores, with the double-handed fleet leaders, Felipe Cubillos and José Muñoz continuing to poll the highest speed averages on Desafio Cabo de Hornos since dawn on Monday.
For the Chilean team, the south-westerly air stream is a gift and with their Class 40 at its optimum wind angle, the gains have been impressive over the past 24 hours with Cubillos and Muñoz adding 30 miles to their lead over Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme and Desafio Cabo de Hornos currently leads Beluga Racer by 100 miles.
Over Sunday and Monday, Jeremy Salvesen and David Thomson made a big dent in the distance to the fleet leaders, delivering some of the highest speeds in the fleet on board Team Mowgli. “We have had a fast and furious night with winds steady at 28-30 knots with gusts up to 35 and pretty heavy seas,” reported Salvesen late on Monday. “We had the small spinnaker up for the early part of the night until the wind shifted slightly and we needed to head a little further south, so we changed down to the Code 5,” he continues. “Boat speeds have been wonderful, topping out at nearly 19 knots, and we have continued to make good progress in catching up a little on the leaders.”
There is, however, a barrier in front of the fleet. “We are all headed for a big area of light winds in what is known as the Azores High,” explains the British skipper. “The leaders will run into it first and we should keep the stronger breeze for another day or so before we, too, get caught.” Currently trailing Beluga Racer by 128 miles, the capricious nature of the high pressure system is becoming evident and Team Mowgli has slowed to just under ten knots as Beluga Racer and Desafio Cabo de Hornos continue to hang onto the breeze making 10.2 knots and 11.8 knots respectively.
“What happens when we all get into this area is really anyone’s guess and big gains or losses can be made by any one of us,” predicts Salvesen. “The weather forecasters are quite good at telling you almost exactly where strong winds and fronts are, but when it comes to finding a path through complex highs, the science seems to go out of the window as these systems float around with a mind of their own,” he notes. “Knowing exactly what it is going to look like tomorrow is an impossible task.”
When gambling on the movement of the Azores High, the house usually wins, although weather models suggest that an extension of the system bulging north-east towards Europe may snare the fleet. If this is the case, Salvesen’s prediction could materialise with dramatic compression within the double-handed class. For solo sailor Michel Kleinjans, 370 miles west of Team Mowgli, speed averages have risen since midnight with Roaring Forty currently averaging 10.7 knots as the Belgian Open 40 rides the top of the Azores High.
For the highly experienced German team on Beluga Racer, the Azores High offers an opportunity to simply enjoy the sailing. “It does hurt to have to sit here unable to push the boat hard,” admitted Boris Herrmann yesterday as the spreader damage continues to be a handicap. “With clipped wings we float over the sea, nevertheless like a bird of prey,” he continues. “So, we’re slightly underpowered and have discharged the water ballast and Beluga Racer accelerates easily, occasionally hitting 14 knots. It is a great pleasure to just stand on the bow and enjoy the ride as the boat takes off in surfs and flies into the next wave. It’s like driving a chariot without holding onto the reins.”
Currently sailing directly above the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the closest double-handed boat to the Azores, Herrmann and Oehme are soaking up the atmosphere with 930 miles of precious racing in this circumnavigation remaining. “As the sun sets after a superb day out in the Azores High, I grab my camera while dolphins appear and jump waves around the boat and it is impossible to wipe the smile from my face,” says Herrmann. “However, the camera remains in its case as I know by now that these playful companions don’t like being filmed or photographed at all, and as quickly as they arrived, they suddenly vanish.”
Whatever the Azores High holds for the fleet, for Team Mowgli, light winds could be a short term benefit. “We have suffered some further serious damage to our mainsail overnight and there is now a large area of delamination which is going to take some patching and stitching as soon as the wind drops off a bit more,” admits Salvesen. “It isn’t a particularly difficult job if we can get the boom into the middle of the boat but it will take us some hours to do,” he explains. “A perfect job for the light patch ahead.”
With the Portimão Global Ocean Race leaders approaching the Leg 5 Scoring Gate, the divison within fleet is increasing as frontrunners, Desafio Cabo de Hornos and Beluga Racer experience predominantly reaching conditions and Team Mowgli and Roaring Forty battle against headwinds. Over the past 24 hours, the Chilean duo of Felipe Cubillos and José Muñoz on Desafio Cabo de Hornos have extended their lead over Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme on Beluga Racer by just over 20 miles with the Chilean Class 40 leading by 96 miles in the Thursday 0620 UTC position poll as the German team hold the northern position to windward.
While the leaders make fast progress, the upwind boats are striving to punch through the North Atlantic. Holding third place in the double-handed fleet, Jeremy Salvesen and David Thomson on Team Mowgli have dropped back from 300 miles to 384 miles behind the lead boat this morning as the British duo tack constantly in headwinds. For solo sailor Michel Kleinjans on Roaring Forty the conditions are toughest and the Belgian single-hander is now 131 miles due west of Salvesen and Thomson.
For the Chilean duo, there are approximately 120 miles remaining until crossing the scoring gate. “I don’t want to alarm anybody, but we are close to the spot where the Titanic sank on that prophetic night between 11-12 of April in 1912,” noted Felipe Cubillos late on Wednesday. From the latest position report, Desafio Cabo de Hornos is approximately 160 miles south-east of the liner’s collision location while Beluga Racer, sailing further north, is around 120 miles from the site of the tragic disaster and as the boats climb north to reach the Leg 5 Scoring Gate south of the Grand Banks, the temperature is dropping rapidly. “Tonight, the atmosphere has changed substantially,” confirms Cubillos. “Until yesterday, we have been sailing in a fleece and a dinghy jacket, but now we have had to unpack the winter clothes that we haven’t touched since Cape Horn.”
With the drop in temperature and the legacy of the Titanic in mind, Cubillos and Muñoz have been monitoring the presence of ice in the area. “I wanted to check the temperature of the water since that is a good indication of the chance of icebergs,” explains the Chilean skipper. “But even that instrument isn’t working very well and we are already close to the ice limit restriction.” Currently Desafio Cabo de Hornos is 100 miles south of the Portimão Global Ocean Race Leg 5 Ice Limit at 41°N and although icebergs may have evaded the radar interrogation of the International Ice Patrol locates the presence of bergs in the region of 43°N – 49°W: north of the fleet and 120 miles north-east of the Titanic collision.
With the Chilean and German race leaders averaging 9.9 knots and 8.2 knots respectively, Cubillos and Muñoz have also been closely watching the speeds produced by Beluga Racer since Herrmann and Oehme reported damage to their upper port spreader. “From the speed of the German boat it is apparent that they haven’t been affected by the damage to their mast,” explains Cubillos. “With headwinds, they can use all their sails, without reefs in the main, and can sail on an equal footing with us,” he continues. “These conditions will continue through until late on Saturday. After that, it’s hard to say. Where they have a problem is if they have to sail with open angles and the mainsail leans against the damaged spreader. Then there is a risk.”
On board Beluga Racer, the German duo have continued to strengthen the damaged spreader. “Just to let you know, the mast looks incredibly stable and good since the part broke,” reported Boris Herrmann on Wednesday evening. “We are very confident we will make it to Portimão without too big a delay,” he predicts. “The biggest loss in performance is sailing downwind when we do not want to sit the main against the spreader and must reef early,” explains the German skipper, confirming the analysis of his Chilean rivals. “As we have a bit of upwind and light stuff ahead, the injury will only become obvious later when we sail downwind again,” he adds.
With Oehme controlling the boat, Herrmann has spent extended periods aloft attempting to make a robust repair. “The spreader’s internal connection in the mast is broken, but we have made some strong lashings to hold both spreaders in place,” he explains. “Even with reduced sails and everything eased, it is impossible to push, or pull, or drive the spreader back into the mast.” Despite this setback, the Germans are highly optimistic. “Don’t worry about us,” reassures Herrmann. “We’re going well and keeping a close eye on things.”
For solo sailor, Michel Kleinjans on Roaring Forty, the reality of the distance to the double-handed fleet leaders is stark. “Now I am really on my own out here,” he admitted late yesterday. “Not that it matters a lot, but ego-wise it would of course be better if I was up with the leaders somewhere, but it is bit frustrating to see them keep flying away.” The distance has increased steadily since Roaring Forty and Team Mowgli ran into headwinds while Desafio Cabo de Hornos and Beluga Racer have experienced northerly breeze. “I’ve been tacking solidly towards the scoring gate for the past 20 hours,” reports the Belgian yachtsman. “Although this boat is good at it, it doesn’t do a lot of good if the others are all reaching and as you can see, a little difference in distance at the beginning of the leg has grown into a huge one after six days.”
However, Kleinjans is pragmatic and positive about the future. “There’s not much I can do to change the situation other than remain patient and wait for the wind to come from a better angle.” Fortunately, when the wind does provide offwind sailing, Roaring Forty will be in optimum condition to sail fast. “My repair to the bobstay seems to work fine and I tested it yesterday,” he reports
In the 0320 GMT position poll on Sunday morning, Felipe Cubillos and José Muñoz holding second place on Desafio Cabo de Hornos have 138 miles to the finish line and third place Team Mowgli with the British duo of Jeremy Salvesen and David Thomson have 403 miles of Leg 4 remaining. Meanwhile, solo sailor Michel Kleinjans is making good progress despite his collision with a container ship early on Saturday morning and his Open 40 Roaring Forty is making 8.4 knots with just under 300 miles of racing to complete
Throughout Saturday and into Sunday, speeds have remained high for the Portimão Global Ocean Race fleet as the Trade Wind sailing continues with less than 2,000 miles to the finish line in Charleston, South Carolina. In the 0620 GMT position poll this morning, Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme on Beluga Racer lead the fleet 180 miles due east of Martinique in the middle of the Windward and Leeward Caribbean island chain. Currently trailing the German team by 67 miles, Felipe Cubillos and José Muñoz on Desafio Cabo de Hornos are still hunting hard with both boats recording average speeds of 14 knots last night with 12 knot averages this morning.Meanwhile, solo sailor Michel Kleinjans, 245 miles behind the double-handed leader on Roaring Forty, is producing consistent nine-ten knot averages for the past 24 hours and the British duo of Jeremy Salvesen and David Thomson on Team Mowgli are pushing their Class 40 hard averaging 10-11 knots and trailing the race leader by 547 miles.Despite the intense battle at the front of the double-handed fleet, there is still room for sportsmanship: a powerful feature in the Portimão fleet and within Class 40 demonstrated clearly last night as the tracker beacon on board Beluga Racer began transmitting misinformation. The small, battery powered beacons – usually fitted to a yacht’s pushpit or wind vane support – transmit the boat’s precise position every three hours (this can be tweaked remotely to increase frequency in emergencies or close to the finish line) and a land-based terminal shunts the data to the Race Organisation, the shore teams and the competitors while the statistics are uploaded to the event’s website Race Tracker. Occasionally, a yacht’s beacon will lock onto a different satellite than the remainder of the fleet and will send data out of synchronisation giving false and misleading positions and speeds.This was the case between 1820 GMT last night and 0320 GMT this morning as the tracker on Beluga Racer transmitted to an independent satellite, leaving Cubillos and Muñoz on Desafio Cabo de Hornos without information as to the German boat’s speed and position. Although the tactical options in the North-East Trade Winds are small, the psychological advantage held by the German team was potent. However, Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme elected to send the correct, real-time data via email direct to their rivals on Desafio Cabo de Hornos: an unsolicited gift that was not lost on Felipe Cubillos. “What Boris – the German skipper – has done speaks of pure sportsmanship, a characteristic sometimes forgotten in worldwide sport these days,” commented the Chilean skipper earlier this morning. ‘Nice fight up to Charleston and then to the bar!’ wrote Cubillos in an email to the German boat. ‘What you have done in sending the positions when nobody requested you do so says a lot about the quality of sportsmanship on board Beluga….It is an honour sailing with you.’While the double-handed leaders battle it out, Salvesen and Thomson are hurtling north in strong conditions on Team Mowgli. “For the last couple of days we have been reaching along in 16-20 knots of wind with occasional bursts above that with gusts reaching up to nearly 30 knots,” reported Jeremy Salvesen late on Saturday. “For the most part, the sun has been shining brightly and it has been incredibly hot with only a couple of light showers thrown in. We have a full moon, so night time sailing is blissful!” Although the British duo are determined to catch the race leaders, Salvesen and Thomson are playing it straight. “For a while yesterday the wind veered sufficiently for us to get our small spinnaker up and boat speeds improved sharply,” continues Salvesen. “But it then backed again meaning we either had to take it down or run off course – we could do this but it would mean coming up onto the wind hard later on and losing even more speed. It is just too much of a risk to take in hoping the wind will veer sufficiently to enable us to be too far off course at this stage!”Currently, Team Mowgli is 360 miles off the coast of French Guyana heading for the Caribbean islands. “As it is, we will be running close to, but probably not inside, the Leeward Islands of Barbuda, Anguilla and Antigua,” predicts the British skipper. “They are still a few days away, but it would be nice to see land again after a break for a few days!” With a daunting distance of 547 miles to the fleet leaders, the British yachtsmen are still looking for any advantage to catch Beluga Racer and Desafio Cabo de Hornos. “There is a ridge of high pressure in front of us all and the leaders in the fleet will run into this well before us,” notes Salvesen. “Hopefully, this will give us a chance to catch up a little before we hit it too!” For the meantime, the duo can only watch the battle in the north with envy. “They are having an incredible race up front and, with better wind angles than us, are delivering some fantastic boat speeds,” says Salvesen. “Don’t give up on us yet – we should get the same wind in a few days time too!”
This morning the formation of the Portimão Global Ocean Race front runners has remained unchanged as Beluga Racer, Desafio Cabo de Hornos and Roaring Forty tuck into the Trade Winds for a fast ride north-west to the finish line in Charleston, South Carolina.Holding second place in the double-handed class, Chilean duo Felipe Cubillos and José Muñoz with Desafio Cabo de Hornos are the windward boat with a deficit of 57 miles to race leaders Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme on Beluga Racer. Solo sailor Michel Kleinjans on board Roaring Forty remains the leeward boat furthest west – just under 400 miles off the coast of northern Brazil – and is still keeping pace with the double-handed leaders, trailing the Chilean team by 63 miles in terms of Distance To Finish. Meanwhile, furthest south holding third place in the double-handed class, Jeremy Salvesen and David Thomson on Team Mowgli are currently 419 miles behind the fleet leader.“The wind is now being a little kinder to us as we slowly managed to extricate ourselves from the grip of the Doldrums,” reported Salvesen late yesterday. “As we remember from the first leg of the race, the Doldrums is a fickle and difficult place and not one to let its secrets up easily,” he continues. “Forecast data is largely unreliable and always proved to be a bit of a lottery.” The duo’s decision to break east before crossing the Equator was a brave call. “We had a choice,” recalls Salvesen. “Either follow the leaders, or make our own route through the Doldrums. We all know, however, that in sailing – as in so much in life – you can never win by following.” With just under 3,000 miles of race track remaining and the Trade Winds the dominant feature, Salvesen and Thomson will have to wait for any tactical manoeuvring. “Only when we start getting closer to Charleston do the options start opening up again,” explains the British skipper. “Anyway, so we rolled the tactical dice and looks as if we lost. No regrets.”For Felipe Cubillos and José Muñoz, the long term strategy to keep east through the Doldrums is falling into place. “So, the heading to Charleston is 312° and the True Wind Angle is between 108° and 110° – that is the exact position where our boat is fastest,” said Cubillos yesterday. “For that reason, the strategy of how and where to cross the Doldrums wasn’t based on however many miles we dropped to the Germans, but where we were going to be five or six days later.”In the latest position poll, Desafio Cabo de Hornos is making 12 knots – one knot faster than the German duo on Beluga Racer. “We said that we were not heading in the direction of Charleston,” continues the Chilean skipper, “but to an imaginary buoy in the north; then, those 50 miles of lateral separation towards windward that we have at the moment are worth their weight in gold.” As the German and Chilean teams settle into a long power reach north-west, conditions on Desafio Cabo de Hornos are good. “The electronics are working again and the watermaker is functioning although we have enough water stowed for 12 days,” explains Cubillos. “Our regime is that José sails during daylight and I sail at night: so I must pass on my respects to all those around the world who work the nightshift!”For Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme on Beluga Racer, thoughts are already turning towards landfall in South Carolina. “The scoring gate and the Equator lie in our wake and Charleston is still 2,500 nautical miles away,” reported Oehme yesterday. “We are thus in the penultimate week and although we have not yet covered half the distance of Leg 4, the USA is already strongly in our minds,” he admits. “When will we arrive? How many days will we have until the re-start? Do we have to order more spare parts? Is there a suitable crane in order to lift the boat? And as always, improvisation and creativity are required in order to prepare the boat with minimum time and cost.”With a possible ETA in Charleston of 18-19 May, there is potentially a further two weeks at sea. “But this is all in the future,” admits Oehme. “Now we’re sailing in a straight line in very constant Trade Winds. The wind angle is around 100° and we always wanted to avoid this as it is the favourite angle of the Chileans, but so far there’s no trace of a speed advantage for them.” With the German team currently averaging 11 knots to the Chileans 12 knots, Oehme confesses to a surprise tactic employed during the Ilhabela stop over: “Our speed maybe due to our radical weight loss in the last stop over and we must thank our friends Julien and Nina for dragging all the surplus kit back from Brazil to Germany.” As Beluga Racer sails into the Northern Hemisphere summer, the heat on board is becoming an issue. “It is difficult with this heat to get any sleep,” comments Oehme. “First, I read a book concerning an Antarctic expedition and now I’m trying to escape the heat with a book concerning an expedition to Spitzbergen.” However, devouring books on polar exploration has a limited appeal: “When I read about ships frozen in the icepack, I am very glad to be where I am right now,” adds the German yachtsman.