German duo pull ahead

Beluga Racer into the lead in the Portimao Global Ocean Race

Tuesday April 28th 2009, Author: Ollie Dewar, Location: United Kingdom
At midday GMT on Monday, Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme made their move, thundering offshore on Beluga Racer while the Chilean race leaders, Felipe Cubillos and José Muñoz, remained further inshore on Desafio Cabo de Hornos. Averaging the highest speeds in the fleet at 14 knots, Herrmann and Oehme dropped behind the Chilean Class 40 as Cubillos and Muñoz took a more direct heading north, but Desafio Cabo de Hornos was sailing into trouble.

“We decided to sail close to the Brazilian coast,” explained Cubillos late on Monday. “We both thought that we had given the shallow Sao Tome Seamount a wide berth and all the soundings indicated we had a two mile margin.” However, the Chilean team had an unpleasant shock: “Suddenly, we were sailing in water the colour of chocolate,” says Cubillos. “Charging along at 16 knots with waves bursting ahead of us as though they were breaking on a reef. I was certain we were going to go aground. Checking the depth immediately showed us that we had seven metres, which is really on the limit, but it was like sailing in a river with a strong current.”

The Chilean duo spent an anxious hour, hoping that their charts were correct before they could finally relax. There was, however, a further complication: “Our heavy spinnaker has exploded again beyond repair,” admits the Chilean skipper. “We are now without a sail for breeze between the 22 and 28 knots.” With the south-westerly breeze - shifting to south-easterly - forecast for the next few days, this loss may be crucial. “This means that the Germans can potentially sail much faster than us,” adds Cubillos.
At around 1800 GMT later the same day, Herrmann and Oehme shot back in towards the coast: “The German boat cut across our bow only metres ahead,” states Cubillos. “We even had to luff up to avoid them as they were on starboard and had rights over us!” Beluga Racer immediately moved into the lead. “We’ve only got a short time until the scoring gate off Recife,” he notes. “We have to try and limit the miles the Germans can make ahead of us and look for any opportunity to get in front. It’s a mammoth task, but at the same time…what a crack!”

While the German and Chilean teams fight it out, Jeremy Salvesen and David Thomson have their own battle on board Team Mowgli: “We have the masthead spinnaker pretty badly wrapped around the forestay,” reported Salvesen early this morning. “We’re unable to clear it in current wind conditions of 20 knots.” The only option for the British duo was to seek shelter near the Brazilian coastal town of Vila Velha. “We have gone close inshore to see if the wind drops off and had planned to drop anchor and fix the problem.” This course of action is within the Portimão Global Ocean Race rules and the British duo can recommence racing once the problem is overcome. “However, low lying land gives no shelter,” warns Salvesen.

In the latest position poll at 0920 GMT this morning (28/04), Salvesen and Thomson have dropped back to 118 miles behind the German race leader as they sort out the spinnaker issue. Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme on Beluga Racer have increased their lead over the Chilean duo on Desafio Cabo de Hornos to 15 miles and solo sailor, Michel Kleinjans on Roaring Forty continues to track the double-handed fleet, just 43 miles behind the Class 40 leader.

0920 GMT 28/04/09 sched:
Double-handed class:
1. Beluga Racer – DTL 0.0nm Spd 11.9kts
2. Desafio Cabo de Hornos – DTL 15.2nm Spd 10.8kts
3. Team Mowgli – DTL 118nm spd 4kts

Single-handed class:
1. Roaring Forty – DTL 0.0nm Spd 10.6kts

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