Pheshaya Racing enters Global Ocean Race
The offshore double-handed team of Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire from South Africa announce their entry for the GOR 2011-12 from on board Phesheya-Racing during the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race.
The South African, double-handed team of Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire are currently racing their Akilaria Class40 Phesheya-Racing (ex-Clarke Offshore Racing, ex-Atao Audio Systems) in the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race with an additional two crew; the Austrian duo of Peter Artenberg and Markus Hofstaetter. Despite the demanding conditions, the duo took time to call the Global Ocean Race 2011-12 (GOR) Race Organisation earlier today and announce their decision to enter the double-handed circumnavigation starting from Mallorca in 395 days time.
Sounding on excellent form, 43 year-old Leggatt explained the decision during a satellite phone call from the chart table of Phesheya-Racing: “I have wanted to do the race since the Portimão Global Ocean Race was run and now even more so because of the great new starting point at Mallorca,” he told Josh Hall, Race Director of the GOR. “Now we have been campaigning in Class40 for the season, we feel ready to take on the challenge,” he continued, before passing the Iridium handset to his co-skipper, 28 year-old Phillippa Hutton-Squire: “When I was growing up, I was inspired and challenged by listening to my father tell stories of the female sailing legends such as Isabelle Autissier and her contemporaries. The Global Ocean Race is an opportunity to follow in their footsteps. It’s also a great honour to represent South Africa and the Royal Cape Yacht Club in Cape Town."
The Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race started with strong, downwind conditions in the The Solent on Monday and one of the three Class40s entered, Gottfried Poessl’s Celox 40, dismasted shortly after the start following dramatic backstay failure. “We feel very sorry for Celox 40 who lost their rig at the start after giving us so much help and support to get there ourselves,” says Leggatt. “We really hope all are OK.” Leggatt and Hutton-Squire opted to sail bareheaded in strong headwinds on Tuesday as the fleet entered the North Sea. On Wednesday, in decreasing NNW headwinds, the team on Phesheya-Racing changed up from storm jib to reefed staysail in steep, northerly seas.
Today, conditions remain challenging: “The wind is dying at the moment and we’re beating into about 12.5 knots of breeze,” reports Hutton-Squire. “It’s cloudy, gusty with a short, sharp chop: typical North Sea conditions,” she adds. “The breeze is from around 320° but the wind is changing and we’re going to have to tack soon.” Indeed, the crew of Concise 2, further north and 80 miles SSE of Muckle Flugga, the fleet’s turning mark at the northern tip of the Shetland Isles, tacked onto starboard an hour earlier.
Leggatt is already familiar with the Round Britain & Ireland route and was crew in 2002 on the late Steve Fossett’s 125ft catamaran Playstation – the yacht that held the outright record around the British Isles of four days and 16 hours until early on Tuesday morning when French solo sailor, Sidney Gavignet, clipped just over one hour from Fossett’s record in an outstanding display of single-handed sailing on the A100 trimaran, Oman Air Majan. Phesheya-Racing (‘phesheya’ translates from Zulu – the language of 10 million Zulu people predominantly settled in South Africa – as ‘overseas’) has been racing for just over three days and while the outright Round Britain & Ireland record is obviously out of reach, the duo have the Round Britain & Ireland Race record for 40-footers as a target.
The existing 40ft record of 11 days 12 hours 26 minutes and 48 seconds was set by fellow GOR entry, Michel Kleinjans and his crew on Open 40 Roaring Forty in 2004. “We have been looking at the numbers and as long as we can average six knots, we should break Michel’s record,” says Hutton-Squire. “We’ve just got to keep going and the forecast looks like we may be able to use the gennaker soon for some off wind sailing,” she predicts. “After all, that’s the sort of sailing you have promised us in the Global Ocean Race!”
The South African duo has an immense amount of valuable offshore experience. Following the Round Britain & Ireland Race record, Leggatt continued racing on Fossett’s catamaran – renamed Cheyenne – breaking the Cadiz-San Salvador record and setting the Round the World record in 2004 at an astonishing 58 days and 09 hours. Leggatt has also proved himself adept at extreme monohull sailing with voyages above 80°N in the Arctic and as far south as 69°S in Antarctic waters at the bottom of the world.
For Hutton-Squire, dinghy and keelboat racing in Cape Town, South Africa, was interrupted – temporarily - by working as a chef in Michelin-starred restaurants in England before returning to sea and a spell on charter yachts in the Mediterranean and Caribbean. In 2009, Leggatt and Hutton-Squire teamed-up for a voyage from Brazil to New Zealand via Cape Town providing Phillippa with her first taste of high-latitude sailing before the duo successfully proved they could endure hardship on land with a 4X4 adventure across the Australian Outback. More recently, the South African duo took 6th place earlier this year on Phesheya-Racing in the Class40 double-handed Normandy Channel Race and in mid-summer finished 4th overall after five legs out of nine double-handed Class40s in the Shetland Round Britain & Ireland Race with a highly-impressive 1-2-4-4-4 scorecard.
The official entry of the South African team means the GOR now includes sailors from ten nations. “A call from the blue - the big blue - from Nick and Phillippa to enter the GOR was as unique as it was welcome,” says Josh Hall, Race Director of the GOR. “Since acquiring their Class40, this dynamic duo has excelled in the Class40 events they have targeted and their blueprint of proving their talent and value to sponsors has been highly successful,” adds Hall. “Entering the GOR from their hectic chart table as they race around Britain is typical of their spirit and determination to succeed and we embrace their entry with the total respect they deserve - welcome to the GOR Team Phesheya!"