First to the gate

More points on the board for Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme's Beluga Racer in the Portimao Global Ocean Race

Friday May 1st 2009, Author: Ollie Dewar, Location: United Kingdom
Shortly after 0520 GMT this morning, Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme crossed the Leg 4 scoring gate south of Recife, Brazil, in first place on Beluga Racer. This mid-leg victory gains the German duo two points, bringing their overall race score to 36 points.

In second place, Felipe Cubillos and José Muñoz on Desafio Cabo de Hornos are currently 46 miles behind the German team and will cross the scoring gate in the next few hours in second place, taking 1.5 points and increasing their points total to 31 points.

Last night, Chilean skipper, Felipe Cubillos was still fighting to reach the gate first. “We will continue working hard all night but, to be honest, I don’t think it’s going to happen,” he admitted. “But do not worry, we are not bitter because we know that we will return to lead this leg; of that we are certain.” There is high optimism on the bright red Chilean boat. “By tomorrow morning, we will have gained or lost this scoring gate and we will look for our new clouds and fresh breeze and new emotions,” says Cubillos. “Because life without those clouds, at least for us, would be unbearable. In the words of Bob Dylan, ‘The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind’.”

Meanwhile, 140 miles south of the German race leader, British duo of Jeremy Salvesen and David Thomson on Team Mowgli are back up to speed making the highest average in the fleet at 10 knots after their inshore pitstop to fix a wrapped spinnaker. “Sailing through the night has been hard work with heavy cloud cover and no moonlight and wind being very variable in direction,” reported Salvesen late yesterday. “We have cut our watches down to one and a half hours each as it is difficult to concentrate on the helm for much longer than this, thereby increasing the risk of broaching.” Fortunately, the conditions have recently stabilised. “This morning, however, after a series of heavy squall clouds and rain, the wind has settled once more,” reports the British skipper. “We finally have the autopilot on and are making good progress towards the scoring gate to our NNE.”

While the leading boats now have the option of heading away from the coast after the scoring gate, Salvesen and Thomson have to remain inshore. “Shipping traffic has died down and nothing has been seen since yesterday afternoon,” continues Salvesen. “Thankfully this includes fishing boats! These tend to be very badly lit - a single white light doesn't tell you which way they are headed and avoiding them can be very tricky when you are doing 15 knots with the big spinnaker up! During daylight hours some of them trail incredibly long floating lines marked only by occasional white floating markers. Crossing over the top of one of these lines would spell disaster for both us and the fishermen!”

Closest inshore, the fleet’s solo sailor, Michel Kleinjans on board Roaring Forty, is currently 63 miles behind the leading double-handed Class 40 and will cross the scoring gate later today. With the entire Portimão Global Ocean Race fleet spread out over 140 miles and with 3,500 miles remaining to the finish line in Charleston, South Carolina, the leaderboard may change dramatically as the tactical options increase after the scoring gate.

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