The Kiwi-Australian duo of Conrad Colman and Scott Cavanough took first place in Global Ocean Race (GOR) Leg 4 from Punta del Este, Uruguay, to South Carolina with Akilaria RC2 Class40 Cessna Citation, crossing the finish line off Charleston at 05:45:00 GMT (01:54:00 local) on Tuesday morning. Colman and Cavanough took 28 days 11 hours and 45 minutes to complete the 5,700 miles from Uruguay to Charleston.
Crossing the finish line at #13 buoy to seaward of Charleston’s twin, offshore breakwaters, 28-year-old Colman and 30-year-old Cavanough lit orange flares in celebration as their Class40 ghosted north in minimal breeze on a long, oily swell beneath a half-moon and cloudless sky with the loom of Charleston’s city lights as a backdrop. Engaging their engine, the victorious duo motored down the clearly-marked channel towards Charleston Harbour, passing between Morris Island and Sullivans Island, then through the 2km-wide gap with Fort Sumter to port and Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island and into the Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina.
Colman and Cavanough led the GOR fleet from the start on 2 April in Punta del Este, building a lead of 230 miles by the time Cessna Citation reached the Celox Sailing Scoring Gate at the easternmost point of Brazil after 12 days of racing and increasing further to almost 400 miles as the duo closed in on the Caribbean. For Kiwi skipper Conrad Colman, this isolation at the head of the fleet was satisfying, but the lack of close combat left an empty feeling: “We actually felt a little bit envious of the others as we made a quick break at the beginning and then the wind favoured us, so we very quickly extended out,” he explains. “Then it was just us and the flying fish, whereas the other guys were bouncing off each other and having a good time,” says Colman. “I’ll never get sick of winning, but it was a fairly relaxed way of winning the leg.”
With their impressive lead reduced as Cessna Citation sailed into a completely different weather system than the chasing pack of three Class40s, Colman and Cavanough regained ground again as they left the Bahamas to port before falling into light airs with just 130 miles to the finish. “Unfortunately, by being so far into the lead there was always the risk of moving into a high pressure area and a compression from behind,” Colman confirms. “So there was nothing we could really do.” The only option was to take a westerly heading away from the finish and watch their rich stock of leadership miles tumble. “We were just sailing VMG downwind and the others were power reaching,” he adds.
As Cessna Citation slipped across the Charleston finish line, their closest competitor, Marco Nannini and Sergio Frattaruolo with Financial Crisis, was 161 miles to the south and while the loss of so many miles in the last few days at sea and missing the chance of a fast finish might be mildly disappointing, the two sailors delivered an immaculate leg. This is doubly impressive as Colman and Cavanough have never raced together before – Scott Cavanough explains the potential setbacks this could have presented: “You can certainly tell sometimes that we’re both ex-solo sailors and ex-Mini sailors as we often wanted to do things ourselves in our own way,” he says. “The other guy would come out on deck half asleep and try and help out and would be told to go back to bed and leave everything alone! However, we got along well and made the boat go.”
On two subjects, both sailors agree unequivocally – the finest moment of the leg, which occurred on the last day at sea: “We were surrounded by dolphins and we sat on the bobstay while they were swimming along by the bow,” says Colman, “We reached out and touched them, which was something very, very special.” And, of course, the lowest point of the leg: “Pulling weed off the rudders and the hydrogenerator gets old really quick,” states Cavanough, recalling the massive fields of Sargasso weed the fleet encountered. “Repeated mechanical failures was also a real stress,” adds Colman, “but overcoming them was good for our team work. We didn’t break anything and we’re fatigued, but could leave tomorrow.”
As the Kiwi-Australian duo recover from Leg 4 at the Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina, Nannini and Frattaruolo were 116 miles from the finish line at 12:00 GMT averaging just over nine knots.
GOR leaderboard at 12:00 GMT 1/5/12:
1. Cessna Citation 28d 11h 45m
2. Financial Crisis DTF 116 9.1kts
3. Phesheya-Racing DTF 195 7.9kts
4. Sec. Hayai 215 9.2kts
At 15:00 GMT on Monday, the Global Ocean Race (GOR) fleet leaders Conrad Colman and Scott Cavanough on Cessna Citation were gradually picking up speed with less than 100 miles to the finish line in Charleston as the main trio of Class40s dig into the Gulf Stream.
Leading the pursuing pack in second place, Marco Nannini and Sergio Frattaruolo on Financial Crisis held a 62-mile lead over the South African duo on Phesheya-Racing – a gain of around 20 miles since Sunday afternoon – and were averaging the best speed in the fleet at 10.5 knots on Monday. “We’re pleased with how things have gone in the past two days after the tactical move to cover Phesheya,” confirmed Nannini on Monday morning. “We now feel a little more in control of our destiny,” he adds.
However, with weather files predicting a loss of wind, the remaining 215 miles could present a fresh set of tactical options: “The wind is progressively decreasing, so we hope the finale won’t be too much of a light winds struggle,” says Nannini. At 15:00 GMT on Wednesday, Nannini and Frattaruolo were 106 miles NE of Grand Bahama and 200 miles off the east coast of Florida. “We’re heading north-west, a little left of the direct route, in anticipation of the rotation of the wind and hoping to find the favourable flow of the Gulf Stream to help us run fast along the American coast,” he explains.
Meanwhile, on Phesheya-Racing, Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire had slowed to just under seven knots on Monday afternoon with their speed averages dropping gradually from over ten knots earlier in the morning. “We’ve caught up 125 miles on Cessna and 131 on Financial Crisis,” reported Hutton-Squire on Monday morning, but the pressure from Van Vuuren and Beusker in fourth place is relentless. “We’ve lost 165 miles to Sec Hayai due to their incredible speeds and they have shadowed us like our reflection on the water.”
On Monday afternoon, the Dutch duo of Erik van Vuuren and Yvonne Beusker on Sec. Hayai continued to close in on Phesheya-Racing taking an extra 30 miles from their lead in 24 hours and trailing the South Africans by 56 miles on Monday afternoon. While Leggatt and Hutton-Squire keep a close eye on the Dutch, progress is still slowed by repeated entanglement with weed: “We sailed into a field of Sargasso Weed slowing the boat, clogging the hydrogenerator and jamming the rudders,” says Hutton-Squire. Putting on head torches, the duo investigated the extent of the entrapment. “We pulled the hydrogenerator up and found that the prop was jammed with weed,” she explains. “In the dark, Nick leant over the back of the boat with the boat hook to try and free the weed and this is when he discovered a fishing net caught in the weed.”
At sunrise, Leggatt and Hutton-Squire could get a better idea of the extent of the weed they were trailing: “I sailed dead downwind, slowing the boat and Nick was able to check the rudders and clear more weed,” continues Hutton-Squire. “We checked the keel through the peep hole in the hull next to the chart table and discovered more weed, but we decided that it wasn’t enough weed to stop the boat for.”
GOR leaderboard 15:00 GMT 30/4/12:
1. Cessna Citation DTF 91.7 6.1kts
2. Financial Crisis DTL 215 10.5kts
3. Phesheya-Racing DTL 277 6.7kts
4. Sec. Hayai DTL 333 9.4kts
After 13 days at sea and a very demanding 2,000 miles of racing in Leg 4 of the double-handed Global Ocean Race (GOR), the leading Class40, Cessna Citation, has crossed the Celox Sailing Scoring Gate off the coast of Brazil netting the maximum six points and coming close to crossing the boat’s outbound track made on GOR Leg 1 from Palma, Mallorca, to Cape Town seven months ago.
Although Conrad Colman and Scott Cavanough took Cessna Citation across the Celox Sailing Scoring Gate shortly before midnight on Saturday and freed-off around Ponta do Calcanhar hitting ten-knot averages, it hasn’t been so comfortable for the trio of Class40s further south. The chasing pack were separated by 150 miles at 15:00 GMT on Sunday, led by Marco Nannini and Sergio Frattaruolo with Financial Crisis but as speed averages hovered around eight knots in approximately 14 knots of easterly breeze throughout Saturday, Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire fell into a private weather system on Phesheya-Racing with the South Africans fighting to keep the boat moving as miles were lost to Financial Crisis and the Dutch duo of Nico Budel and Erik van Vuuren on Sec. Hayai.
While Colman and Cavanough added 29 miles to their lead in the past 24 hours and led the fleet by 241 miles on Sunday afternoon, the South Africans have dropped 25 miles to the Italian-Slovak team on Financial Crisis with Budel and Van Vuuren winning 26 miles from Phesheya-Racing as Leggatt and Hutton-Squire recover from the seven-hour ordeal in unreadable conditions.
Meanwhile, at the head of the fleet, for 28-year-old Conrad Colman, triumph at the scoring gate was slightly marred: “Last night we rushed through the Celox Sailing Scoring Gate at ten-12 knots under our Code 3 gennaker before turning around the top of Brazil and again hoisting the big spinnaker,” he reported on Sunday afternoon. “It would be nice to be able to bask in the afterglow of getting more points on the board but, again, the day has dawned with a hot fury, eliminating all chances of basking,” says Colman.
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As the Global Ocean Race (GOR) Class40s approach the end of their first week at sea in Leg 4 from Punta del Este, Uruguay, to Charleston, USA, the double-handed teams are racing upwind along the continental shelf of Brazil with the New-Zealand-Australian team continuing to extend their lead on Akilaria RC2,Cessna Citation to 56 miles, while the three first generation Akilarias – Financial Crisis, Phesheya-Racing and Sec. Hayai – were spread over 37 miles at 15:00 GMT on Sunday with the Italian-Slovak duo of Marco Nannini and Sergio Frattaruolo squeezing fractionally higher speeds from Financial Crisis but unable to shake-off the South African and Dutch Class40s.
On Sunday afternoon GMT, Conrad Colman and Scott Cavanough continued to poll the best averages for almost 24 hours with Cape Frio 90 miles of the port beam and with Nannini and Frattaruolo 56 miles astern and both boats averaging just over seven knots. On board Financial Crisis in second place, there has been no break since the beginning of the race in Punta del Este: “Half the world is on holiday for a long Easter weekend, but for us it’s been more wind and waves as we sail north-east hoping to soon reach the trade winds,” reported Marco Nannini on Sunday afternoon. “Ahead of us the bottom corner of Brazil with Rio de Janeiro and a tangle of variable light winds to deal with.”
Following the passage of a front, the spell of downwind sailing was short-lived and the teams are now back on the most uncomfortable point of sail: “In the space of half a day we went from sailing downwind to beating upwind again, progress has been very slow since, especially as we are pushing against the unfavourable Brazil Current which runs from north to south decreasing our speed by nearly a knot,” Nannini confirms.
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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