Final miles

Roaring Forty and Team Mowgli approaching leg 2 finish line in the Portimão Global Ocean Race

Tuesday January 20th 2009, Author: Ollie Dewar, Location: United Kingdom
After nearly 7,000 miles of racing through the high latitudes of the Indian Ocean in Leg 2 of the Portimão Global Ocean Race, solo sailor, Michel Kleinjans on Open 40, Roaring Forty, and the British duo of Jeremy Salavesen and David Thomson on Class 40 Team Mowgli, are clawing their way to the finish line off Wellington, New Zealand.

At 08:20GMT (21:20 local) today, Kleinjans was 42 miles from the finish line and has been struggling to keep Roaring Forty moving. With foul currents and wildly fluctuating wind strengths and direction, he was averaging just 3 knots at 01:20GMT, before rounding the northern tip of d’Urville Island at the western entrance to Cook Strait and picking up some speed three hours later. Averaging 7.1 knots this morning, but with the prospect of decreasing breeze, the Belgian solo sailor’s current ETA is 18:00GMT this evening (07:00 local).

While Kleinjans opted to head inshore just north of the Karamea Bight and hugged the coast for the 35 miles between Kahurangi Point and Cape Farewell before ‘turning right’ towards Wellington at 18:20GMT last night, Team Mowgli made the bold decision to head back offshore into the Tasman Sea, hunting for stronger breeze from a low pressure system lurking to the west of North Island. The gamble worked and The British duo averaged between 8-10 knots overnight before stalling in the past few hours.

“We haven't seen any sign of human life at all since leaving the Cape of Good Hope,” wrote Salvesen in an email earlier this morning. “Not a ship, not a plane and not even any rubbish floating around to give our species away.” At 02:20GMT (15:20 local), Team Mowgli rounded South Island’s northern tip; the closest the boat has been to land since passing 150 miles to the north-west of the Kerguelan Islands 24 days ago. “So waking this morning to see Cape Farewell off our starboard bow was a wonderful experience.”

In the 08:20GMT poll, Team Mowgli trailed Roaring Forty by 33 miles, 75 miles from the finish and both the British yachtsmen are keen to reach Wellington and re-group: “I think there has been a sense coming through from the boat emails that we have been down hearted or depressed by the gear failures and consequent lack of competitiveness in this leg,” reasons Salvesen. “We apologise if this was what has been conveyed. We have been frustrated as hell but not depressed,” he explains. “We are here to race and we need to be self-critical if we are to improve our performance in later legs - we are less than half way through the race overall and there is plenty time for us to catch up on the leaderboard.”

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