Team Mowgli make port

One more to go in the Portimão Global Ocean Race

Monday June 22nd 2009, Author: Ollie Dewar, Location: United Kingdom
Having made excellent speed during their last night at sea in the Portimão Global Ocean Race, the double-handed team of Jeremy Salvesen and David Thomson ran into light airs just seven miles from the finish line early on Monday morning. After rounding Cape Saint Vincent, taking a slightly more inshore and direct route to the finish line than Leg 5 winners Felipe Cubillos and José Muñoz on Desafio Cabo de Hornos and the event’s overall, double-handed winners, Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme on Beluga Racer, played no part in the lack of breeze, but as the northerly wind dropped to almost zero knots just east of Punta da Piedada, the British duo on Team Mowgli stalled due south of Lagos and despite sailing parallel to one of the Algarve’s most beautiful stretches of beach, Meia Praia, the finish line in Portimão lay tantalisingly out of reach.

At 0830 UTC, the wind shifted 180° and Team Mowgli changed to starboard gybe and slipped softly for the remaining miles to the finish line across the entrance to Portimão’s River Arade running between the eastern breakwater’s black and white banded lighthouse and the committee boat, the Oyster 48, Oyster Azul, of local British residents Brian and Ann Hansen. Picking up the pace and with the help of the tide beginning to flood, the final 1,000 metres was swift with Team Mowgli cutting close to the committee boat’s bow and crossing the line at 09:29:55 UTC after 17 days 18 hours 59 minutes and 55 seconds of racing from Charleston, South Carolina.

With a strong contingent of family, friends and supporters waiting on the VIP pontoon at the Tivoli Hotel, the celebrations for an extraordinary circumnavigation by the British duo began immediately. For Jeremy Salvesen – who only took up sailing three years ago – the Portimão Global Ocean Race has been an unbelievable experience. “I feel an incredible sense of achievement and sense of being humbled by the incredible scale and power of the planet we live on,” he explained shortly after the traditional champagne spraying. “I’m just generally in awe of the whole thing. I’m lost for words, really. Just speechless.”

Taking third place and maintaining pace with the German and Chilean teams has been a monumental achievement for the British team. “We’ve been racing against some of the best sailors in the world, I think,” admits Salvesen. “I don’t think anybody could have beaten Michel if he’d been sailing double-handed,” he comments of solo sailor Michel Kleinjans on Roaring Forty. “And Boris and Felix, they’re just incredible and we’ll see a lot more of them on the sailing scene. I’m sure there will be Open 60s involved and they’ll be winning medals all over the place,” believes Salvesen, complimenting the German duo on Beluga Racer. “I’m also certain they will have Felipe chasing them around on a Chilean boat as they won’t be able to shake him off!” he adds, referring to Felipe Cubillos, the German team’s nemesis. “It has been an immense pleasure sailing at this level and I have huge respect for them all. It would have been great to win the race or win even a leg of the race, but it just wasn’t meant to be.”

For Salvesen, one of the most important personal tools has been a sense of humour. “It’s crucial to have a sense of humour all the time,” says the British skipper, laughing loudly on the VIP pontoon. “Sometimes it seemed we were lurching from one disaster to the next, or from one problem to another,” he explains. “If you were unable to be slightly light-hearted about it, I think you really would go mad. But through all the dramas, good old Mowgli looked after us!” adds Salvesen, affectionately patting the Class 40’s hull.
For Salvesen’s co-skipper, professional sailor, David Thomson, the race has been the fulfilment of a dream. “It’s made we want to do it again even more,” he confirms. “As soon as I get back to the UK, I’m starting to get a project together, get some money and enter for the next edition of this race.” Thomson has extensive experience working with a variety of offshore racing teams including time with his brother, Alex Thomson, on the high-profile Hugo Boss Open 60 campaign and this background was invaluable with preparing Team Mowgli. “We probably didn’t spend as much time as I thought we might do fixing things during the race,” he explains. “The boat was so well prepared that we only really had a few minor problems that I didn’t foresee. It will definitely help me with the next project, knowing the potential problem areas and locating which back-up systems are important.” It is clear that Thomson is now highly motivated. “I always wanted to do the Volvo Ocean Race, but I just found it really difficult to get involved in that whole scene,” he comments. “I then discovered short-handed sailing and it suits me. I’d like to go solo in a Class 40, but solo on an Open 60 like Alex…I’m not so sure.”

While Team Mowgli and the German and Chilean teams celebrate in Portimão as the double-handed fleet complete the circumnavigation, solo sailor Michel Kleinjans on Roaring Forty still has 511 miles of Leg 5 remaining in the 1120 UTC position poll today (22/06). Kleinjans is just north of the latitude of Cape Saint Vincent west of Portimão and weather models suggest he is sailing in 10-12 knots of westerly breeze with his Open 40 currently delivering 8.3 knots and continuing to pick up speed. The Belgian single-hander should stick with this breeze for the next 24 hours as Roaring Forty approaches Europe after an intensely gruelling North Atlantic passage.

Leaderboard 1120 UTC Monday 22 June:
Double-handed class
1. Desafio Cabo de Hornos – 15d 21h 07m 05s
2. Beluga Racer – 16d 17h 34m 42s
3. Team Mowgli – 17d 18h 59m 55s
Single-handed class
1. Roaring Forty – DTF 511nm Spd 8.3kts

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