Cessna Citation claim leg 2 honours

Global Ocean Race's youngest team first into Wellington

Friday December 30th 2011, Author: Ollie Dewar, Location: New Zealand

At 08:20:40 GMT (21:20:40 local) today, the youngest team in the Global Ocean Race, 28 year-old Kiwi, Conrad Colman and his 22 year-old, British co-skipper, Sam Goodchild, crossed the leg 2 finish line in Wellington Harbour, New Zealand, in first place on their Akilaria RC2 Class40, Cessna Citation after 30 days 22 hours 20 minutes and 40 seconds, netting the maximum of 30 points for Leg 2.

Colman and Goodchild rounded Cape Farewell at the northern tip of South Island at 14:00 GMT on Thursday (03:00 local on Friday), fighting against headwinds. With Cook Strait set for a 40-50 knot southeasterly blast, potentially gusting to 60 knots, the stretch of water separating South Island from North Island was not a location to be caught in. For the two leading Class40s, Cessna Citation and BSL, there was no option and life became increasingly tough for the two teams. Fleet leaders on Cessna Citation tacked hard in 35 knots of southeasterly wind in extremely ugly seas ahead of the main gale, sailing close to d’Urville Island and Port Gore on the northern tip of South Island before they attacked the 14-mile wide wind funnel at the narrowest part of the strait between Cape Terrawhiti on North Island and Perano Head on Arapawa Island in Marlborough Sound at 06:00 GMT on Friday with 18 miles remaining to the finish line.

One hour later, as the wind built to 45 knots, Cessna Citation barrelled through the 2km-wide entrance to Wellington Harbour between Pencarrow Head and the Miramar Peninsular in torrential rain and grey, rolling waves as daylight faded fast. Colman and Goodchild left the partially exposed Barrett Reef to port and crossed the GOR Leg 2 finish line off Worser Bay on the harbour’s western shore taking victory in Leg 2. GOR Race Officials boarded Cessna Citation via the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club’s support RIB, congratulated the co-skippers and swiftly checked the engine seal fitted in Cape Town was still intact and the Class40 continued to her mooring in Queen’s Wharf for reunions and celebrations in the relentless Wellington downpour.

Surrounded by friends and family on the wet, slick, wooden quayside, Conrad Colman was one of the happiest men on North Island: “It’s the legend of the youg’uns!” he laughed. “It’s absolutely fantastic and it can’t get much better than this,” adds Colman. “I’ve been wanting to sail in a race into New Zealand since I was six years-old when I watched Fisher & Paykel and Steinlager 2 match race down the coast, so not only racing into New Zealand, but winning is really something special.” His British co-skipper was relieved to be ashore: “The Indian Ocean isn’t the problem, it’s Cook Strait that’s the issue,” admitted Goodchild with a broad grin. “The last 12 hours have been pretty horrific.”

One of the really remarkable features of Colman and Goodchild’s partnership is their recent acquaintance: “We met each other a few days before the start of the race and pretty much shook hands on the start line,” explains Colman. “We did a lot of things on the fly, but we shared all the responsibilities and it worked really well.” Sam Goodchild agrees: “We come from two different sailing backgrounds with myself in the Figaro Class and Conrad in the Mini 6.50s and it just worked out well,” he says. “I never, ever expected that we’d win and it’s a massive bonus.”

Mark Blomfield, one of Cessna’s European distributors and a mainstay of Colman’s GOR campaign will be travelling to rendez-vous with the boat in Wellington: “I am very sorry that I’m unable to be in Wellington at the moment to welcome Cessna Citation and a pair of very courageous and skillful young men who make us and Cessna very proud to be their sponsor and supporter,” says Blomfield. “They have won a long and very arduous Leg 2 in the Global Ocean Race against some highly experienced crews and it is worthy of note that they only met five days before the start!” he adds. “Also, our thanks and appreciation to Mike Thrower who is the owner of this fast and very reliable Class40 yacht and who has been a wonderful supporter of the team and the GOR.”

As Conrad Colman, Sam Goodchild and friends and family enjoy celebrations at Rydges Hotel near the GOR Race Pontoons, much of the group’s talk concerns Ross and Campbell Field in second place on BSL who will encounter the full-force of the Cook Strait gale overnight. In the 11:00 GMT position poll, the New Zealand father-and-son duo are 126 miles from the finish line and 12 miles from Cape Farewell where they will turn east and head directly into 40-45 knots for the final, hard miles through the confines of the strait.

Positions at 11:00 GMT:
1. Cessna Citation 30d 22h 20m 40s
2. BSL DTF 126 4.6kts
3. Campagne de France DTL 95 5.6kts
4. Financial Crisis DTL 363 10.6kts
5. Phesheya-Racing DTL 451 4.8kts

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