Return to the northern hemisphere

German duo lead the charge in the Portimão Global Ocean Race

Tuesday May 5th 2009, Author: Ollie Dewar, Location: United Kingdom
In the past two days two more boats in the Portimão Global Ocean Race fleet have crossed the Equator and re-entered the Northern Hemisphere: at midnight GMT on Sunday night, Felipe Cubillos and José Muñoz sailed second place Desafio Cabo de Hornos into the North Atlantic, followed at around 0230 GMT this morning by solo sailor Michel Kleinjans on Roaring Forty. Meanwhile, the British duo of Jeremy Salvesen and David Thomson holding third place in the double-handed class on Team Mowgli have 26 miles to reach the equator at 0620 GMT today and should cross into the North Atlantic this afternoon.

With the leading three boats clustered relatively closely 600 miles due east of the mouth of the Amazon, the recent three-hour speed averages gives a good indication of conditions facing Beluga Racer, Desafio Cabo de Hornos and Roaring Forty with figures fluctuating constantly between three to ten knots over the past 24 hours as the teams climb through the Doldrums hunting the fresh Trade Winds further north. In the latest poll, the German race leaders are averaging four knots with the Chilean team making 5.3 knots. The fleet’s solo sailor, Michel Kleinjans on board Roaring Forty, is just 33 miles due south of the double-handed race leader averaging 6.5 knots and south of the Equator, Team Mowgli are averaging the highest speed in the fleet at 7.1 knots.

In the latest 0620 GMT position poll today (05/05), the Chilean duo of Cubillos and Muñoz on Desafio Cabo de Hornos trail Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme on Beluga Racer by 63 miles, but are filled with optimism: “From now on, we will stop seeing the Southern Cross constellation that has looked over us and sheltered us for so long,” wrote the Chilean skipper yesterday. “But she has given us the tools to finish this race successfully.” Although the Chileans have dropped a further 18 miles to the Herrmann and Oehme in the past 24 hours, Cubillos is unconcerned. “Don’t worry about the distance the Germans have in front of us,” he advises his huge Chilean fan base. “Our decision was to cross the Doldrums heading direct from south to north, therefore the distance that matters between us and the Germans is latitude, which is around ten miles.”

While Cubillos and Muñoz took a more direct route through the Doldrums, Herrmann and Oehme on Beluga Racer have headed north-west, separating from their Chilean rivals. “Our strategy might look a bit shaky at the moment as we appear to be losing miles,” admits Cubillos. “Although I have a secret feeling that the tactic is going to work. A soon as we reach the Trade Winds, the distance the Germans hold to the west will fall dramatically.” Current weather models indicate that the fleet front runners are experiencing between five to ten knots of wind, with more stable breeze just out of reach further north. “With any luck, we only have a short time remaining in the Doldrums and meteorologists predict that the good breeze is waiting at latitude 02°N,” explains the Chilean skipper.”

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