Less than a Fastnet Race to go
After 31 days at sea in Leg 1, the lead boat in the doublehanded, Class40 Global Ocean Race is within 390 miles of land. In pole position, Ross and Campbell Field with BSL are currently averaging 11 knots in the 12:00 GMT position poll on Wednesday with Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron on Campagne de France 74 miles behind in second place.
Northwest of the leaders by 1,500 miles, the main pack of four Class40s are spread over 360 miles with the variety of options taken to avoid the high pressure system blocking their route to Cape Town coming into play as Conrad Colman and Hugo Ramon in third on Cessna Citation run into headwinds furthest east while Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire with Phesheya-Racing and Financial Crisis of Marco Nannini and Paul Peggs have northeasterly breeze. Furthest north, the Dutch duo of Nico Budel and Ruud van Rijsewijk on Sec. Hayai are closing in, currently making the best speed in the group.
With an ETA at the Cape Town finish line of early on Friday morning, the Fields aren’t easing off: “We have changed spinnakers more times in four hours than we have for the whole trip,” reports Ross Field having recovered from a slow few hours on Tuesday. “We’ve examined weather maps, cursed the weather gods, examined the boat to see if we had something around the keel and managed to wipe the boat out with a gust of wind from nowhere.” BSL has been averaging 11 knots over the past few days and the pressure will continue until their Verdier-design Class40 is moored at North Wharf in the V&A Waterfront Marina. “Both of us are up all night, sharing the driving - Campbell is doing a great job - talking to each other so we don't go to sleep and constantly trimming sails,” explains Ross. “I thought the trip into Cape Town was going to be easy - it's not!”
As the wind for the leaders moved from southwesterly, further west, Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron were counting down the miles to the finish on Campagne de France: “There is a little less than a Fastnet Race in distance to go to the finish line, but that is nevertheless 600 miles of open ocean remaining,” reported Miranda Merron on Wednesday morning. “BSL deserve their place, but spare a thought for the four boats behind us who were not that far off until the weather gate closed firmly between us and them. They really will have earned their beer by the time they get to Cape Town.”
On Cessna Citation, Colman and Ramon have been beating eastwards on the eastern edge of the high-pressure: “Late last night the stars finally aligned and the weather models dusted themselves off and straightened up too,” reports Colman. “After our hitch a few days ago to secure our advantage over Marco, we had been drilling south while watching the weather charts feverishly for an opening to turn left and finally head east.” Currently, the New Zealand-Spanish team have a 155-mile lead over Nannini and Peggs and despite 1,500 miles to the finish, Ramon is already looking forward to Cape Town: “Hugo asked the fatal question of ‘what’s going to be your first meal when you get ashore’,” says Colman. “Like a priest in a monastery I don’t normally allow such impure thoughts to enter my mind until less than 1,000 miles to go, so to even think of fresh food with twice that distance to go was dirty work indeed.”
While Cessna Citation opted to go east of the high-pressure, Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire went west and are currently making just under seven knots 230 miles southwest of Financial Crisis: “Having taken a hammering through the Tropical South Atlantic we have arrived at 30 degrees South to find ourselves in some glorious weather for cruising,” reported Nick Leggatt on Wednesday morning. “A little cool, but not too cold, beam reaching in 10-15 knots of wind with occasional lighter patches and sailing on top of a very long swell pattern.”