Phesheya-Racing heads for Normandy Channel Race

The latest from Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire's Class 40 campaign

Thursday May 12th 2011, Author: Ollie Dewar, Location: United Kingdom

Following a winter on the hard standing at Hamble Yacht Services in Hamble, the South African team in the doublehanded Class40 Global Ocean Race 2011-12, Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire, relaunched Phesheya-Racing early on Wednesday morning. The duo has just over one week to prepare for the double-handed Normandy Channel Race and sail their Class40 to France.

Having recently returned to the UK following a four-month stay in South Africa working on their GOR campaign and undertaking yacht deliveries, Leggatt and Hutton-Squire swiftly sanded below the waterline, antifouled the hull and repainted the twin rudders, keel fin and bulb in fluorescent orange before relaunching their five year-old Akilaria. The duo plan to spend the weekend test sailing before setting off across the Channel to Caen on Monday and the busy, pre-event, Normandy Channel Race build-up.

In the inaugural, 2010 Normandy Channel Race, the South African team took sixth place and they are looking for a good result in this year’s event. “I definitely want to be the first girl to finish,” comments Hutton-Squire, who was the only female competitor in the 2010 event. However, the duo will also use the race as a qualifying passage for the GOR: “The first thing is to make sure we get through the race and qualify for the Global Ocean Race,” Leggatt confirms. “We’re only launching a week before the race, so we’re going to look at the systems and see what has to be changed,” he continues. “We’ll race hard and do our best and we’ll assess how we stack up against the other Global Ocean Race boats.”

Leggatt and Hutton-Squire will be one of five GOR teams competing in the Normandy Channel Race and will be sailing against Belgian yachtsman Michel Kleinjans and co-skipper Marc Lepesqueux on the new Kiwi 40FC, Roaring Forty 2; Italian skipper Francesco Piva’s Kiwi 40FC Peráspera; the Anglo-German, all-female GOR team of Hannah Jenner and Anna-Maria Renken on the Owen Clarke Design 40 Degrees and Tanguy de Lamotte sailing with Sébastien Audigane on Initiatives Saveurs.

Of the current GOR teams, Leggatt and Hutton-Squire have the most extensive and recent record of doublehanded sailing with 28,000 miles logged offshore together. “We’ve sailed two double-handed transatlantic trips in the past four months,” says Hutton-Squire of a Rio to Cape Town delivery and a Cape Verde to the Caribbean voyage, both undertaken on 40ft yachts. “In the past year, we’ve sailed 14,000 miles together,” she adds. Despite this prodigious experience and invaluable time spent sailing two-up, the South African team has a realistic approach to the forthcoming event in France: “One really important factor is to avoid breaking anything as we really don’t have the budget for any major repairs,” admits Hutton-Squire.

Following the Normandy Channel Race, Phesheya-Racing will head for Lorient and structural modifications to bring the Class40 into Category Zero compliance required by the GOR with the work undertaken by local resident, Paul Peggs, who recently assisted GOR entry Marco Nannini with the mandatory modifications and 180° inversion test. With just over four months until the GOR start gun fires in Palma, Mallorca, the South African team is balancing boat preparation with sponsor hunting: “We’ve had a lot of positive and genuine feedback and support,” says Leggatt. “We decided at the end of last year that it’s all about getting the project together and completing the qualifying voyage and modifications,” he adds. “We’ll be on the Palma start line 100 per cent for sure!”

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