First to the scoring gate

Success for Chilean duo in the Portimao Global Ocean Race

Friday June 12th 2009, Author: Ollie Dewar, Location: United Kingdom
At 2122 UTC on Thursday evening, Felipe Cubillos and José Munoz crossed the Leg 5 scoring gate in first place on Desafio Cabo de Hornos. For the Chilean duo, this is the first scoring gate victory in the event’s five legs and a momentous moment for Cubillos and Muñoz. “I have always believed that when competing for Chile, it is a right and a responsibility to show pride and respect,” explained Cubillos shortly after crossing the gate. “We have proudly flown the Chilean flag throughout the race – in fact, the boat is covered in Chilean flags - and this is appropriate for a country where love and respect for the national flag almost reaches cult status,” he continues. “So please have a big party for the bright red boat!”

In the latest 0620 UTC position poll this morning (12/06), Desafio Cabo de Hornos leads the fleet with a 97 mile advantage over Herrmann and Oehme on Beluga Racer who currently have approximately 70 miles remaining to the scoring gate. For Cubillos, this lead may become a temporary setback. “I think the Germans are going to make some gains on us as we are too far ahead and right in the middle of an area with very little wind,” he predicts. The current speed average of Desafio Cabo de Hornos is 4.3 knots as the Chileans face light north-easterly headwinds while Beluga Racer are averaging 7.2 knots and should keep the stronger breeze as the wind shifts to the south-east throughout today.

For Jeremy Salvesen and David Thomson on Team Mowgli, the upwind sailing continues 342 miles west of the Chilean race leaders as the British duo continue to climb north-east making the best speeds in the fleet since Thursday afternoon and reducing the distance deficit to Desafio Cabo de Hornos by just over 40 miles in the past 24 hours. “We have had two long days hard on the wind with the boat well heeled over and crashing through the waves caused both by the wind and the adverse current,” reported Salvesen earlier this morning. “Life has been a little uncomfortable and perhaps more than a little frustrating,” he continues.

The gains for the British team have been a considerable morale boost. “The tide however, has quite literally, changed over the last few hours and not only have we been able to come off the wind a little and increase our boat speed, but the current has swung round in our favour,” confirms Salvesen. “Instead of having a knot of current against us, we now have nearly a knot running with us. So, speed over the ground has increased by best part of three knots - or 75 miles per day. Quite a change!” For Team Mowgli the current weather conditions could produce further gains. “As the leaders run into lighter airs we have managed to claw back some of the miles lost over the last couple of days and this advantage should stay with us for a little while yet,” he adds.
“Everything is holding up well on Mowgli without any further problems to report over the last couple of days,” confirms the British skipper, recalling the recent autopilot issues. “It has been pretty constantly grey with drizzle and some heavier rain at times and it is definitely getting cooler as we move further north and out into the middle of the Atlantic.”
As their Class 40 ascends through the North Atlantic, the environment is swiftly changing. “Water temperature has fallen from around 28 degrees a couple of days ago down to 23 degrees,” notes Salvesen. “But as we never expect to really get north of the warmer waters of the Gulf Stream, we don't think it will ever get too cold and certainly ice isn't likely to be a problem for us.” In common with all the teams in the Portimão Global Ocean Race, Salvesen and Thomson have been monitoring all ice alerts. “The latest reports show ice is receding, but it is worth remembering that it is only three hundred miles or so north of here that the Titanic floundered on her ice berg,” he comments.

While the British team have had a problem-free few days, life has been busy on Roaring Forty. Trailing the British double-handed duo by 224 miles, Michel Kleinjans suffered a broken starboard D1 early yesterday forcing the Belgian yachtsman to immediately tack onto port. The shroud - running from the starboard chainplate to the mast just below the first set of spreaders - is a key component, but Kleinjans has rigged lines and blocks to replace the shroud and is convinced that Roaring Forty can complete Leg 5.

As the Portimão Global Ocean Race fleet forge east across the North Atlantic, the race leaders have some company at the scoring gate with two backmarkers from the OSTAR heading west from Plymouth, England, to Newport, Rhode Island, in the path of the fleet. During Leg 3, the Portimão boats encountered the 70ft racing thoroughbreds of the Volvo Ocean Race shortly before rounding Cape Horn and in the mid-Atlantic there is the chance of further encounters with a pair single-handed yachts from the 25-strong OSTAR fleet. In the latest position poll, Gianfranco Tortolani’s Citta di Salerno is 60 miles north-east of Desafio Cabo de Hornos and Peter Bourke on Rubicon is currently 240 miles due east of the Chilean Class 40.

Leaderboard 0620 UTC Friday 12 June:
Double-handed class
1. Desafio Cabo de Hornos – DTL 0.0nm Spd 4.3 kts
2. Beluga Racer – DTL 97nm Spd 7.2 kts
3. Team Mowgli – DTL 342nm Spd 9.1 kts
Single-handed class
1. Roaring Forty – DTL 0.0nm Spd 5.1 kts

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