Germans ten hours in front

As remaining Portimao Global Ocean Race boats pass the scoring gate

Saturday May 2nd 2009, Author: Ollie Dewar, Location: United Kingdom
At 1500 GMT on Friday, the Chilean team of Felipe Cubillos and José Muñoz crossed the Leg 4 scoring gate south of Recife in second place on Desafio Cabo de Hornos, ten hours behind the German team of Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme on Beluga Racer. Just over three hours later at 1825 GMT, solo sailor Michel Kleinjans crossed the gate on Roaring Forty, harassing the second place Chilean Class 40 and trailing Desafio Cabo de Hornos by 14 miles. Holding third place in the double-handed fleet, Jeremy Salvesen and David Thomson are currently 136 miles behind the leading German boat and in the latest 0620 GMT position poll today, and their Class 40, Team Mowgli, is 53 miles south of the scoring gate.

As the fleet head round the easternmost point of Brazil and sail north towards the Doldrums, the weather is proving highly variable. On Friday at noon GMT, Beluga Racer and Desafio Cabo de Hornos slowed to under three knots before the breeze picked up with Herrmann and Oehme squeezing an extra 14 miles into their lead over Cubillos and Muñoz in the past 24 hours and Beluga Racer now has a 55 mile margin over the Chilean team. Current weather models suggest the fleet are in around nine knots of south-easterly breeze with the wind forecast to turn easterly later today giving light offwind conditions over the weekend.

Since dealing with a wrapped spinnaker on Team Mowgli two days ago, Salvesen and Thomson have been pushing as hard as they can to make up lost miles. “We had a wonderful night's sailing in steady 22 knots of wind reaching with full main and our gennaker and achieving average boat speeds well over 10 knots for hours on end,” reports Salvesen. “With speeds dropping off at the front of the fleet, we have managed to claw back some good distance from the leaders and have now narrowed the gap between us and Beluga Racer down from over 180 miles to under 130 miles and the Chileans are now back to 80 miles,” he commented earlier today. “The same as they were just before our unscheduled stopover in Santos.”

Despite focussing on catching the leading two double-handed boats, the performance of Belgian solo sailor, Michel Kleinjans, is always impressive to watch. “Michel, alone on board Roaring Forty, is doing a remarkable job,” comments Salvesen. “He is proving to be the hardest so far for us to narrow the gap with and at the same time he is now just over ten miles behind the Chileans.” However, conditions have been demanding for the British duo: “The steady winds of the night gave way to violent squalls with torrential rain as dawn rose,” he continues. “Winds gusted up to just under 35 knots and our course became somewhat erratic as the wind backed and veered sharply! Mowgli got a well needed wash down to clear crusty salt deposits and David got a good shower into the bargain as well!”

With the ever present risk of repeating the spinnaker issue, the duo have been handsteering constantly. “We managed to have dinner together last night for the first time in a few days,” confirms Salvesen. “I have to say Brazilian canned meatballs are not something you might want to serve for a dinner party at home! We won't be rushing back to them.”

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