Job done

Chilean claim line honours on Portimão Global Ocean Race but Germany takes the overall prize

Saturday June 20th 2009, Author: Ollie Dewar, Location: United Kingdom
At 11:37:05 UTC today, 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 since 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 Rolex 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!

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