Off again

Portimão Global Ocean Race sets sail from Ilhabela bound for Charleston, SC

Saturday April 25th 2009, Author: Ollie Dewar, Location: United Kingdom
At 1100 local time today, a Catholic priest from the Ilhabela diocese of Caraguatatuba made a special visit to the pontoons at the Yacht Club de Ilhabela. Moving slowly along the dock, Father Leonildo Ferreira Júnior began the aspersion, sprinkling holy water on the transoms of the four yachts in the Portimão Global Ocean Race. The Padre then continued the Rite of Blessing with the seven skippers and despite a light-hearted plea from Chilean skipper Felipe Cubillos for an extra sprinkling, the ceremony went without a hitch and the prospects for the 4,800 miles of Leg 4 from Ilhabela to Charleston, South Carolina, look good.

Half an hour later, the four boats left the dock and headed for the start line off the town of Vila, beneath the lofty peak of Mount Baepi. At 1140, a race support RIB collected friends, family, riggers, boat builders and local sailing enthusiasts from the race boats as the skippers prepared for the 1200 start. With ten minutes to the gun, the breeze had begun to stabilise at 8-10 knots from the south-west, blowing directly down the channel between Ilhabela and the mainland providing a downwind start. Felipe Cubillos and José Muñoz chose to patrol the start line on Desafio Cabo de Hornos, reaching back and forth across the channel. Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme on Beluga Racer and the British duo of Jeremy Salvesen and David Thomson on Team Mowgli opted for a long run in to the line and sailed upwind of the start towards the commercial docks of São Sebastião on the mainland. Meanwhile, solo sailor Michel Kleinjans on Roaring Forty kept to the island shore, sailing close to the private yacht moorings south of Vila.

The Chilean team’s timing proved immaculate and Cubillos and Muñoz scorched towards the offshore end of the start, gybed at the inflatable marker buoy and crossed the line first, hoisting their spinnaker as the daylight fireworks display crackled onshore. Michel Kleinjans emerged from the moorings at full pace taking second place across the line on Roaring Forty with Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme in third on Beluga Racer just seconds ahead of Jeremy Salvesen and David Thomson on Team Mowgli. Beluga Racer kept to the island shore immediately after the start while the remainder of the fleet opted to head into mid-channel before gybing onto starboard and sailing a hot angle towards the island shore. An hour after the start, the fleet rendezvoused just off the red and white-banded lighthouse at Punta das Canas on the northern tip of Ilhabela as the breeze dropped at the exit of the channel. Beluga Racer, Team Mowgli and Roaring Forty gybed away from the rocky shoreline seeking open water, leaving Desafio Cabo de Hornos temporarily in a windless pocket just 200 metres off the beach.

After three hours of racing, the eastern option taken by Cubillos and Muñoz puts the bright red Class 40, Desafio Cabo de Hornos, fractionally in the lead, 0.04 miles ahead of Beluga Racer in second and just under a mile ahead of Team Mowgli with the Chileans producing the best boatspeed of 4.2 knots. Meanwhile, Michel Kleinjans and Roaring Forty are the filling in a Class 40 sandwich between the German and British teams in the west.

More photos on page 2...

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