Early lead for Merron and Mabire
The first night at sea for the Global Ocean Race Class40s on Leg 3 was an upwind battle in around 20 knots as the fleet left the shelter of Wellington Harbour following a one-month stopover and hammered out into Cook Strait led by Leg 2 winners, Conrad Colman, and his new South African co-skipper, Adrian Kuttel, on their Akilaria RC2, Cessna Citation.
As night fell, the main pack turned east close to the Great Circle route with Marco Nannini and Hugo Ramon on Financial Crisis splitting south, making solitary progress parallel to the coast of South Island as the separation built the Distance To Leader figures for the Italian-Spanish duo. Shortly before daybreak in the Pacific Ocean, Nannini and Ramon finally broke southeast as the leadership battle in the northern group continued with Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron taking pole position with Campagne de France.
However, shortly before midnight GMT on Sunday, fresh northeasterly breeze arrived for the fleet from a low pressure system centred over the Chatham Islands directly in the path of the Class40s with Financial Crisis in the strongest wind as the speed averages began to climb for Nannini and Ramon.
In the 04:00 GMT position poll on Monday, Financial Crisis was making the best speed in the fleet at just over nine knots, but remains isolated in fifth place, trailing the leaders, Mabire and Merron at the head of the pack with Campagne de France by 46 miles. Meanwhile, Ross and Campbell Field on Buckley Systems are just over one mile off Mabire and Merron’s starboard quarter with Conrad Colman and Adrian Kuttel on Cessna Citation just three miles off the Franco-British duo’s port quarter. The South African duo of Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire on their four year-old Akilaria, Phesheya-Racing, were averaging just over eight knots and holding fourth place just over 12 miles behind the fleet leader.
GOR leaderboard 04:00 GMT 30/01/12:
1. Campagne de France DTF 5,914nm 8.1kts
2. Buckley Systems DTL 1.3nm 8.2kts
3. Cessna Citation DTL 3.3nm 7.9kts
4. Phesheya-Racing DTL 12.6nm 8.3kts
5. Financial Crisis DTL 46.6kts 9.2kts