The Chileans and Germans part company in the Portimão Global Ocean Race

Wednesday February 25th 2009, Author: Ollie Dewar, Location: United Kingdom
At 1820 GMT yesterday, the two leading boats in the Portimão Global Ocean Race parted company having shadowed each other through the western Pacific for three days. At the time of the split, the lead was held by Felipe Cubillos and José Muñoz on Desafio Cabo de Hornos just a few miles ahead of Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme on Beluga Racer.

Cubillos describes the situation: “Our onshore meteo team advised us that being in the north was better since the beginning of the race, but we decided to go south and cover the Germans.” Since the start of Leg 3 from Wellington, New Zealand, the two Class 40s have rarely been out of visible range. “But we’ve had to re-think our strategy,” he continues. “We were in front of the German boat earlier today by about three miles, when an enormous black cloud appeared to starboard, dumping huge amounts of rain. ‘This one is a wind killer,’ I told myself and I chose to get away from the cloud as quickly as possible.”

Cubillos and Muñoz put the helm down and headed north-east while Herrmann and Oehme went south towards the cloud. “The Germans decided to luff up into the cloud,” explains Cubillos. “It’s the usual sailor’s practice, head up a bit to create apparent wind if it goes light. It seems as though the German tactic might have succeeded,” admits the Chilean skipper as position polls following the manoeuvre showed Beluga Racer eight miles ahead of the bright red Desafio Cabo de Hornos.

However, despite this separation after three days of match racing below 40°S, Cubillos is looking at the longer term plan when the wind finally arrives. “While we were windward of the cloud, we could see Beluga Racer in the exact spot we had occupied a few minutes earlier,” he reports. “We’re going to stick with the north option and it will take about a week before the real outcome of our northern route is clear.” The latest position poll at 0620 GMT today gives the Chileans a narrow lead of eight miles, making 5.3 knots, three knots faster than the German team.

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