Global Ocean Race: All home

Phesheya-Racing and Sec. Hayai reach Les Sables d'Olonne

Monday June 11th 2012, Author: Ollie Dewar, Location: France

The final two boats in the Global Ocean Race have reached the finish in Les Sables d'Olonne, France.

Third-placed South African duo, Phillippa Hutton-Squire and Nick Leggatt aboard Phesheya-Racing arrived at 23:40:21 GMT on Saturday 9 June after 30,000 miles and 168 days of racing around the planet spread over almost nine months since the start in Mallorca last September.

In flat water and strong following wind after crossing a front, the South African duo sped towards the finish line at good pace hitting speeds of 15 knots. With 100% cloud cover, the grey-black, moonless and starless canopy over the finish line was broken only by a ragged band of light from the loom of the French town’s street lights as Hutton-Squire and Leggatt made landfall at the end of their epic circumnavigation.

With one reef in the main and the staysail, the final miles of the round-the-world race through the Bay of Biscay were deeply memorable for the South African duo: “It was very damp and very fast,” said Leggatt shortly after they tied-up to the Vendée Globe pontoon in Port Olona. “In many ways, it was the best sailing we’ve had in the entire race,” he adds. Indeed, the duo’s four-year-old Akilaria Class40 lit-up in the strong, downwind conditions. “It was pretty flat and the boat just picked-up on the tiniest waves and just took off doing 14 or 15 knots down the smallest waves,” explains Hutton-Squire.

As the champagne celebrations with Hutton-Squire’s family and representatives from their sponsor, bluQube, continued on the pontoon, a cold drizzle filtered through from the Atlantic, sweeping through the port. “This leg has been pretty special,” said Leggatt, turning up the collar of his foul weather gear. “We left Charleston and went right into the teeth of Tropical Storm Alberto,” he recalls. “And when we survived that, we were promptly hit by Tropical Storm Beryl and then re-hit by the same storm.” However, there was one bonus: “At least we weren’t beating, we were sailing downwind and the boat wasn’t slamming and banging and it was bad, I admit, but nowhere near as bad as out ten days upwind in the Pacific,” Hutton-Squire pointed out.

While Nick Leggatt has completed three circumnavigations, the GOR’s route around the planet was a first for Hutton-Squire: “Three years ago I never thought I’d sail around the world,” she admits. “I’d think we’d both do it again, but going a little bit faster would be good.” For both Hutton-Squire and Leggatt, sharing the entire 30,000 miles is an immense achievement: “Something we’re most proud of is being the only team in the race to have done it the whole way together,” says Leggatt. “While all the other teams swapped co-skippers, we stuck together,” he adds. “Not only are we still talking, but we’re talking about maybe doing the next GOR in 2013,” he confirms.

However, before formal plans for the next adventure are drawn up, the duo still have some travelling to complete: “We’ll sail the boat back to England and carry out some sailing with our sponsors, bluQube, and then home to South Africa,” says Hutton-Squire. “We’ll just spend some time re-thinking what has happened, what we’ve just done and, basically, chilling out!”

At 21:54:44 GMT (23:54:44 local) on Sunday, the fourth and final yacht in the Global Ocean Race, Sec. Hayai, crossed the finish line off LSD with the Dutch father-and-son duo of Nico and Frans Budel taking fourth place on Leg 5 and fourth place overall. They completed leg five of the doublehanded round the world race in a time of 22 days 8 hours 24 minutes and 44 seconds.

The Dutch duo were quick to light an orange smoke flare in celebration as they passed between the GOR’s Committee Boat and the Nouch Sud buoy, swiftly snuffed their spinnaker and turned into the long channel leading to Port Olona and a large and happy reception committee made up of the Budel-family waiting on the Vendée Globe pontoon.

As his children swarmed over the moored Class40, Frans Budel described Leg 5: “The whole leg was a little bit tough going from one gale to the next, but we enjoyed it,” confirms the Dutch co-skipper. “But sometimes we had a lot of windless areas, so it was a big challenge,” he adds. “This was my first Atlantic crossing and I never believed I would do it and it’s an immense feeling to be here.”

The Sec. Hayai GOR campaign has been an example of tenacity, determination and willpower as the Budel family have refused to buckle under setbacks that would have scuppered many other offshore racing projects. Nico Budel raced in GOR Leg 1 with Dutch co-skipper, Ruud van Rijsewijk, but following the start of Leg 2 from Cape Town racing with his 41-year-old son, Frans, Sec. Hayai dismasted on the first night at sea off the Cape of Good Hope.

Disappointed but undeterred, the Budels returned to Cape Town unassisted, ordered a new carbon mast from Southern Spars and a new sail wardrobe from North Sails and despite retiring from Leg 2 and missing Leg 3 through the Pacific Ocean, 72-year-old Nico Budel sailed Sec. Hayai singlehanded to the Leg 3-4 stopover in Punta del Este and re-joined the GOR fleet, sailing Leg 4 with fellow Dutchman, Erik van Vuuren. However, the Dutch drama wasn’t over and Sec. Hayai pulled into Fortaleza, Brazil, two weeks into the leg from Uruguay to Charleston as Budel was required urgently in Holland.

With lightning speed, the Budel’s contacted Van Vuuren’s girlfriend, Yvonne Beusker, and as soon as the GOR Race Committee was satisfied that Beusker had the correct sailing CV and safety qualifications, she flew direct to Brazil and Sec. Hayai spent minimal time suspended from racing and re-joined the GOR fleet.

As a sailing team, the Budel family have proven constantly that they can overcome significant setbacks and the Leg 5 partnership clearly worked: “There may be a next time, but I’ll have to discuss it with my wife first!” says Frans. “We may sail together again, but it depends on Nico as he likes to sail solo.” As Nico Budel moved from one family group to another along the wide, wooden pontoon, he paused to reflect on the 4,000-mile voyage with his son: “He taught me a lot and I hope he learnt a lot from me,” said the grinning Dutchman. “Solo sailing is my passion and it always will be,” he adds. “There is a huge difference between sailing double-handed and sailing solo and sometimes it’s great to be with someone else, but personally, solo sailing just suits me.”

Meanwhile, the Budel’s four-year-old Akilaria, is in good shape and ready to return to Holland. “The boat was perfect,” says Frans. “The first time we got 40 knots of wind, Nico was concerned that we must just hang on and survive the gale, but we found out, two or three times in the gales, that she can sail in 40 knots with no problems, he explains. “The boat really is very strong.”

While the four double-handed teams relax and recover with family, friends and sponsors, the next official engagement is the GOR Prize Giving on Saturday 16 June at the Club House de Port Olona hosted by La Ville des Sables d’Olonne.

Overall GOR 2011-12 ranking and points:
GOR leaderboard at 02:00 GMT 10/6/12:
1. Cessna Citation 17d 22h 50m 14s (162 points)
2. Financial Crisis 19d 01h 19m 48s (132 points)
3. Phesheya-Racing 21d 09h 10m 21s (96 points)
4. Sec. Hayai 22d 08h 24m 44s (42 points)
Buckley Systems RTD
Campagne de France RTD

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