Global Ocean Race: Everyone into the breeze now
All of the four Class40s racing north along the coast of Brazil in the Global Ocean Race Leg 4 from Uruguay to Charleston, SC, have finally hooked into easterly breeze and are making good progress.
With the fleet leader, Cessna Citation of Conrad Colman and Scott Cavanough, 500 miles from the Celox Sailing Scoring Gate, the Kiwi-Australian duo have maintained a 193-mile lead over Marco Nannini and Sergio Frattaruolo on Financial Crisis in second, but have only added three miles to the deficit in the past 24 hours as the chasing pack pick up speed. With 74 miles separating Financial Crisis from third place Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire on Phesheya-Racing on Friday afternoon, the two Class40s have been pushing hard with the distance deficit expanding and contracting. Meanwhile, the Dutch duo of Nico Budel and Erik van Vuuren stalled badly in a personal breeze vacuum on Thursday with Sec. Hayai and dropped 50 miles behind the fleet, trailing Phesheya-Racing by 85 miles at 15:00 GMT on Friday.
For the South African duo of Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire, the past 24 hours have been highly profitable. “Friday the 13th is considered lucky by some and unlucky by others,” reasoned Hutton-Squire early on Friday morning. “We’re going to start off the day on a positive note and hope that this is our lucky Friday!” Throughout the morning, the situation was looking favourable with Financial Crisis and Phesheya-Racing – both first generation Akilaria Class40s - averaging above eight knots.
“Already we’ve started to close the gap on Financial Crisis and since midnight GMT we’ve been humming along,” she confirms. As the easterly breeze kicked-in, the downwind Code 0 headsail was zipped in its bag and stowed below. “We’re fully ballasted under full main and Solent sailing at about TWA of 80 to 90 in steady and stable breeze.” The change in wind direction marks the end of days in variable breeze. “We’ve been struggling to make way in any sort of direction, but now things are the complete opposite,” Hutton-Squire continues.
Sailing at 14°S, 170 miles southeast of Salvador de Bahia at 15:00 GMT on Friday, Leggatt and Hutton-Squire were averaging 8.5 knots – half a knot faster than Nannini and Frattaruolo. “This is all good news as it means we are now just about in the south east trade winds,” predicts the South African skipper and weather files suggest the wind strength should remain steady with a chance of the breeze veering fractionally to the east and heading the boats over the weekend. “We’ve been waiting for this moment for days if not weeks!” she adds. “Warm, sunny and fast sailing to the gate. Now we need to focus on the currents and the wind to help us firstly get through the gate and to be in the right position for the Doldrums.”
Having left the Santos, Campos and Espirito Santo oil and gas fields in their wake, the shipping traffic has ceased for Phesheya-Racing: “Yesterday we saw very few ships or wild life, however the odd flying fish did fly beside us though we have yet to see any on the deck in the morning,” says Hutton-Squire. Now the South African Class40 is sailing over the deep Brazil Basin, even fishing boats are rare and the wildlife has disappeared: “We sailed over a few banks as shallow as 25 metres and then back over the continental shelf to 3,000 or 4,000 metres deep and I thought that we might see more marine life as we crossed the Abrolhos Bank and over the edge of the continental shelf again, but not a bird, nor a fish!”
GOR leaderboard 15:00 GMT 13/4/12:
1. Cessna Citation DTF 3702 7.7kts
2. Financial Crisis DTL 193 7.7kts
3. Phesheya-Racing DTL 267 8.4kts
4. Sec. Hayai DTL 352 7kts