High speed through the Gulf Stream

Chile takes the lead in the Portimão Global Ocean Race

Saturday June 6th 2009, Author: Ollie Dewar, Location: United Kingdom
The Portimão Global Ocean Race fleet have been delivering consistently high speeds overnight as the four boats rocket northeast through the Gulf Stream off the eastern coast of America. Three hour averages of between 12-14 knots have been common with race leaders, Felipe Cubillos and José Muñoz, recording 15 knots on Desafio Cabo de Hornos early on Friday evening UTC. While the sleigh ride northwards continues, there has been some close manoeuvring within the fleet with Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme hardening up in the south-westerly breeze and bringing Beluga Racer down from her position north of the fleet, passing just five miles astern of Cubillos and Muñoz at 1800 UTC yesterday.

Solo sailor Michel Kleinjans now holds the northern station in the fleet on board Roaring Forty, with Jeremy Salvesen and David Thomson on Team Mowgli committed to the southern option. In the latest 0620 UTC position poll this morning, Desafio Cabo de Hornos continue to poll the highest average speed at 13.1 knots as the wind shifted southerly and the Guillaume Verdier designed Class 40 locks into her optimum TWA of around 110°. “We were producing 15.5 knots, topping out at 20 knots,” explained Felipe Cubillos on Friday evening. “At times I thought our guardian angels had commanded us to the bottom of the ocean as we were more submarine than boat!”

In breeze of 30-35 knots the Chilean team have extended their lead over Beluga Racer to 23 miles, adding 18 miles in 12 hours as the German team shadow Cubillos and Muñoz to windward making 11 knots. Furthest south, the British duo on Team Mowgli are pacing the German team, trailing Beluga Racer by 69 miles while Michel Kleinjans and Roaring Forty trail the leading double-handed boat by 77 miles.

Current weather models suggest that the breeze will moderate and turn westerly later today with the chance of thunderstorms, but whatever conditions the fleet will encounter, the competition is likely to be fierce and unrelenting. “This is a special level of racing,” assures the Chilean skipper of Desafio Cabo de Hornos who is determined to beat the German boat to Portimão. “Here are two crews from opposite ends of the planet who have raced around the world without easing off,” continues Cubillos. “I can assure them that the next two weeks will be a fight to the death!”

Leaderboard 0620 UTC Saturday 6th June
Double-handed class:
1. Desafio Cabo de Hornos - DTL 0.0nm Spd 13.1 kts
2. Beluga Racer – DTL 23nm Spd 11.2 kts
3. Team Mowgli – DTL 92nm Spd 11.4 kts
Single-handed class:
1. Roaring Forty – DTL 0.0nm Spd 9.8 kts

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