Kleinjans hangs in there

Singlehander still ahead of the doublehanders in the Portimão Global Ocean Race

Wednesday October 15th 2008, Author: Brian Hancock, Location: United Kingdom
There is a saying amongst sailors; nothing beats time in the boat. This is not an obvious comment about how much fun it is to go sailing. Rather it’s about knowing how to get the absolute best from your boat and nothing, as the saying goes, beats time spent in the boat, offshore, under sail, in a race. That, in a nutshell, is why Michel Kleinjans is showing his transom to some fairly seasoned sailors and a couple of brand new boats. Kleinjans is an old salt. His boat is the oldest in the fleet yet he continues to dominate the opening stages of the Portimão Global Ocean Race.

In yesterday afternoon's poll Kleinjans and Roaring Forty held a sizable lead over their only solo rival, Nico Budel on Hayai. Both boats were sailing at 8 knots with Roaring Forty 60 miles ahead. Perhaps more telling is his 17 mile lead over the leading double-handed entry, the German team of Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme on Beluga Racer. Kleinjans must have put found time to sleep while Herrmann and Oehme can switch off and rest and so his current dominance over the fleet is that much more impressive.

“In the more stable breeze of this morning I caught up with some very needed
sleep after the frantic times in Portimão to get the boat ready for the start,” he wrote in an email to race HQ. “Next question, however, is how to get quickly past the Canary Islands. To the east, take the middle or go west. I will answer that tomorrow or a bit later.” Like all good strategists Michel is taking the long view. The Canary Islands are around 250 miles down the track, but the decisions he makes now will effect how he passes the island group.

The electronic troubles on the British entry Team Mowgli seem to have resolved themselves. Skipper Jeremy Salvesen described what happened: “At about 7am yesterday morning when I was enjoying a bit of kip and David was helming, I heard a cry from him that something was wrong. I rushed up on deck to discover that something had gone seriously wrong with our navigation instruments - they had just packed in. This meant that we had no way of knowing what the wind was doing - wind speed and true or apparent wind direction relative to our boat, all of which makes things doubly hard when conditions are so light and variable. In addition this had knocked out the autopilot so we couldn't use it even if we wanted to.”

Co-skipper David Thomson helmed while Salvesen manned the satellite phone and had a series of lengthy conversations to the race technician, Mark Wylie. Wylie, a master of sorting complicated issues over email and sat phone, talked Salvesen though a jury rig and eventually after pulling out and replacing many many wires through the boat and cobbling together a bit of old cable run from one end to the other, managed to get one of the instruments going again by mid afternoon.

It took a bit of soul searching to decide whether to turn back to Portimão, or press on knowing that they team may have had to hand steer all the way to Cape Town. Salvesen continued: “We had to seriously consider returning to Portimão for urgent repairs but decided that this would cost us too much by way of time and would almost certainly give us a firm last position in this leg down to Cape Town.” Clearly they made the correct decision to press on and while they are the current backmarker on a distance-to-go basis, they have taken a strategic gybe to the southeast in the hope of a tactical advantage.

Leaderboard at 06:20 UTC Wednesday, 15th October 2008

Roaring Forty - distance to finish 5851 nautical miles
Beluga Racer - distance to finish 5855 nautical miles
Desafia Cabo de Hornos - distance to finish 5866 nautical miles
Kazimir Partners - distance to finish 5914 nautical miles
Hayai - distance to finish 5916 nautical miles
Team Mowgli - distance to finish 5938 nautical miles

Latest Comments

Add a comment - Members log in


Latest news!

Back to top
    Back to top