Kleinjans makes port

Damaged Roaring Forty reaches Charleston in the Portimão Global Ocean Race

Tuesday May 19th 2009, Author: Ollie Dewar, Location: United Kingdom
After 23 days 07 hours 44 minutes and 55 seconds, solo sailor Michel Kleinjans crossed the Charleston finish line of Leg 4 in the Portimão Global Ocean Race on board damaged Open 40 Roaring Forty late on Monday evening at 22:44:55 GMT (16:44:55 local).

For Kleinjans, the final hours of Leg 4 were among the most demanding of the entire 4,800 mile course from Ilhabela, Brazil, to the USA. On Saturday morning, Roaring Forty collided with a container ship approximately 210 miles east of Grand Bahama and although the Belgian solo sailor escaped injury, the boat was mortally stricken with damage to the hull-deck joint around the chainplates in addition to internal structural damage to the ballast tanks and the crucial forward bulkhead. With a cold front and strong winds forecast to block his route to the finish line 420 miles to the north, Kleinjans opted to head east, hoping to avoid the combined force of the northerly flowing Gulf Stream and predicted north-easterly wind gusting to 40+ knots.

At 0900 GMT on Monday, Roaring Forty was at the same latitude as Charleston and Kleinjans opted to head west through the Gulf Stream to the finish line. “In the morning it was 30-35 knots, then in the afternoon it was 35-40 knots,” reported Kleinjans shortly after crossing the finish line. With remarkable nerve, the offshore sailing specialist maintained solid averages of just below ten knots for the breakneck ride across the Gulf Stream. “The boat was fine,” he added nonchalantly, dismissing the boat breaking conditions as though they were little more than a short, Saturday afternoon club race. Indeed, for the entire 4,800 mile leg, Roaring Forty was problem-free. “Sometimes the pilot would drop out,” recalls the Belgian solo sailor. “But it is just a matter of changing a couple of wires and a bit of soldering and I also tore my big spinnaker a week ago or so, but otherwise everything was okay.”

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