Global Ocean Race boats head for Palma
With one month remaining until the start of the doublehanded, Class40 Global Ocean Race 2011-12 on Sunday 25 September in Palma, Mallorca, the teams are heading for the start line.
The first team to set off for Palma was the South African duo of Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire on their Akilaria Class40 Phesheya-Racing. The team left their UK base in Gosport just over one week ago, sailing four-up with Hutton-Squire’s parents.
“On Monday evening we crossed the Traffic Separation Scheme and sailed round Cabo De Sao Vicente towards Cadiz,” reported Hutton-Squire. “Nick and Dad had a great blast between the TSS and the cape with the big kite up, full main and 20 knots of breeze in flat water. When I came on watch later, they had big smiles and said they would remember it for a long time. Dad said he even braved a turn on the stick and flew along at 15 knots in the dark. However, he thought it was a bit hair-raising!”
The delivery trip has also provided a testing ground for a mysterious addition to the team’s sail inventory: “We gave one of our new secret weapons a good test today,” revealed Hutton-Squire. “I think it will really help us get out of the Mediterranean and home to Cape Town. We matched boat speed and wind speed with this magic sail.”
Meanwhile, the Italian-British GOR team of Marco Nannini and Paul Peggs recovered quickly from their dismasting at the start of the Rolex Fastnet Race. Fortunately, the failure of the Akilaria Class40’s Solent furling swivel eye early in the race caused minimal damage to the duo’s new carbon mast: “The four days after the dismasting will go down as some of the most stressful I've had to deal with,” admits Nannini. “Dismasting less than 40 days to the start of the Global Ocean Race, having already quit my job and rented out my flat in London was likely to pose a few headaches,” he adds with immense understatement.
Fully aware of the time pressure, Nannini and Peggs leapt into action, immediately booking an ultrasound test for the mast, delivering the mainsail to GP Sails for repairs and driving the rigging to Allspars in Plymouth for checking. By the fourth day, major progress had been made: “By Wednesday, Paul had the boom repair nearly finished and on Thursday morning the rigging was returned, two new fittings - including the one that broke - had been machined for us and one rod was replaced.” Exactly one week after the dismasting, the boat left Gosport with Paul Peggs and four crew for the 1,800 mile delivery to Palma.
While Nannini and Peggs retired from the Rolex Fastnet Race, the New Zealand, father-and-son GOR duo of Ross and Campbell Field completed the race taking seventh place in 17 finishers having led the fleet for some of the 600 miles, crossing the finish line and heading straight to their UK base in Lymington without a stopover in Plymouth. On Wednesday early afternoon, less than a week after finishing the Fastnet, the Field’s and their Tyker 40 BSL left Lymington’s Berthon Boatyard and set sail for the start line.
The Fastnet was the first race on a Class40 for the Fields and a chance for the team to compare their boat to other Class40s. “The only problem we had was taking our eyes off the ball close to the finish and dropped a couple of places,” explained Campbell at a bon voyage party in Lymington the night before heading to Palma. “But the boat is really, really quick,” he confirmed. “There will be absolutely no way we can blame the boat for poor performance during the Global Ocean Race – there’ll be no excuses!”
With a meticulously planned GOR campaign, only a few final details remained after the Fastnet, including the purchase of two stout buckets from a farm supply shop to supplement their boat’s existing head. Mindful that an inferior bucket might suffer collapse while in use during rough conditions, Ross Field took precautions: “I did make certain the buckets were up to the job by sitting on them in the middle of the shop,” he explains. “This created quite a stir with the staff and customers!” As a veteran of five circumnavigations in the Whitbread Round-The-World Race and the Volvo Ocean Race, Ross Field is already accustomed to a diet of freeze dried food and the duo has decided not to take fresh food for the trip to Palma. “The brand we have is delicious,” claims Ross. “We had freeze dried roast lamb a couple of days ago and it tasted great. The only give away is that all the pieces of meat are identically sized cubes.”
Ross and Campbell Field and BSL will stop briefly in Cherbourg, France, and rendez-vous with the GOR’s Franco-British team of Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron and their new Pogo 40S² Campagne de France; the two teams will then continue to Palma together. The GOR fleet will be in Palma’s main marina from Monday 5 September until the start of Leg 1 to Cape Town, South Africa, on Sunday 25 September.