At 23:25 GMT on Thursday, Marco Nannini and Hugo Ramon crossed the Felipe Cubillos Cape Horn Gate at 56S with Class40 Financial Crisis. Racing 49 miles off the infamous outcrop at the southern tip of Chile, Financial Crisis is the second, double-handed, Global Ocean Race 2011-12 (GOR) Class40 to round the world’s most notorious cape.
The fact that Conrad Colman and Adrian Kuttel took line honours at the gate with Cessna Citation doesn’t diminish the immense achievement of racing only the fifth Class40 to sail through the Southern Ocean and around Cape Horn. “What a day!” exclaimed Nannini shortly after crossing the gate. “I think it will take me a while to fully process this fact, but I’m sure it’ll live in my thoughts for the rest of my life.”
Having carried out a text book heaving-to manoeuvre west of Cape Horn to avoid strong winds as they approached the cape, Nannini and Ramon timed their run through the treacherous Drake Passage perfectly – almost: “Just when the weather was finally improving we were left with a last minute reminder of where we are as a squall came through during the night bringing another stint of 50-knot winds and lots of snow…it was quite surreal,” comments Nannini.
For Nannini’s co-skipper, Hugo Ramon, rounding the cape is an opportunity to indulge in some Cape Horn traditions: “Now I can wear a gold earring in my left ear and pee into the wind!” claims the 26 year-old Spaniard. On a more serious note, Ramon knows that sailing through Drake Passage is a monumental challenge: “I’ve really learnt, once again, that you have to respect nature and the elements,” he confirms. “I don’t think we tamed or conquered the elements by rounding Cape Horn safely,” he says. “Simply that Cape Horn has let us pass.”
After rounding Cape Horn conditions became increasingly light throughout Friday as Financial Crisis climbed north steeply and with weather models predicting further light airs, Nannini and Ramon decided to cut the corner. At 17:00 GMT on Friday, Nannini and Ramon had committed to sailing through Le Maire Strait – a 17-mile wide stretch of water between mainland Tierra del Fuego and the offlying Isla de Los Estados that has famously tricky currents and eddies.
Meanwhile, 370 miles to the north of Financial Crisis on Friday afternoon, Conrad Colman and Adrian Kuttel were 150 miles off the coast of Patagonia with Cessna Citation having left the Falkland Islands to starboard on Thursday night. Although the breeze has gone lighter for the New Zealand-South African GOR leaders, around 400 miles to the north a deep low pressure is building with 50+ knot winds forecast before the system tracks eastwards and into the South Atlantic. The duo on Cessna Citation are likely to aim for the western edge of the system.
Approximately 540 miles south-west of Cape Horn on Friday afternoon, Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire are working beneath a high pressure system blocking the route of Phesheya-Racing: ““The weather forecast from the Chilean MRCC said that the wind would ease some more and the sea would be ‘rippled to slight’,” confirms Hutton-Squire. “They are very right as there is a small swell rolling, but generally it is very flat,” she adds. “I can’t believe we are in the South-East Pacific but we are enjoying the sea state and wind conditions.”
The weather on Friday did permit 45th birthday celebrations for Leggatt: “The sea is so flat today we lit the candles, sang happy birthday, took some video and photos, then Nick blew the candles out.” Despite the celebrations on board, the frustrating light airs are set to continue: “We think we have about three or four days until we get to Cape Horn, but it all depends on the high pressure in front of us,” predicts Hutton-Squire.
GOR leaderboard at 17:00 GMT 24/2/12:
1. Cessna Citation DTF 908 7.6kts
2. Financial Crisis DTL 375 8.7kts
3. Phesheya-Racing DTL 1011 7.6kts
The Swedish team Artemis and the Italian Azzurra squad both won thrilling matches on Thursday at the Louis Vuitton Trophy – Auckland, to advance to the semi-finals and dispatch their opponents out of the regatta.
Artemis came from behind to beat Britain’s TEAMORIGIN while Azzurra landed a penalty on the German/French boat All4One and led all the way around the race course.
Each pair in this elimination round were slated to race a best-of-three series but flat calm conditions on the Waitemata Harbour forced a change of plans to sudden-death single races for both pairs.
Principal Race Officer Peter Reggio told the competitors in the morning that he’d institute a single-race policy if he couldn’t start racing by midday. A southerly breeze began to fill in soon after noon and the first race started at 13:40
The semi-finals on Friday will see Emirates Team New Zealand, top of the table at the end of the Round Robin, face Azzurra after ETNZ skipper Dean Barker selected the Italian team as his opponent. That leaves Mascalzone Latino Audi Team against Artemis. The winner of each ‘first to two points’ series will advance to the final.
Barker said it was always tough choosing an opponent, but he went with Azzurra, the team who triumphed over the Kiwis in the final of the last Louis Vuitton Trophy event in Nice.
“We know the guys well and maybe we will get a little bit of revenge hopefully for Nice. We always have good races against those guys,” he said.
Azzurra skipper Francesco Bruni said he was confident going up against the home team, who may have a perceived advantage in stronger breezes and their own boats – especially after Azzurra’s victory over All4One today.
“I think we sailed the boat very well today in difficult conditions. It was a very, very nice performance from the whole team. I think we are getting better in strong winds. We learn day by day; there is no secret that we would prefer lighter conditions for a match with Team New Zealand. But we are also happy to have a chance to race against them in their conditions and in their boats – we have nothing to lose.”
The Swedish Artemis team is rounding into form at the right time and enters the semi-finals with confidence.
“We have won four in a row, and had two fantastic races with the British, which were pretty epic battles in the list of America’s Cup races I’ve been in. I think it’s good training for us in preparation going into the rest of the series.”
For his part, Mascalzone Latino Audi Team strategist Cameron Dunn is sure it will be a difficult match. “We feel we are improving with every race – we started slowly, but we’ve been chipping away and getting better as a team. We had a very good race with Artemis in the round robins, so we know we’re in for a tough battle.”
Racing is scheduled to start with a warning signal at 10:00 on Friday morning. The forecast is for fresh conditions.
Thursday’s race summaries:
Race One: Artemis def. TEAMORIGIN, 00:38 – Britain’s Ben Ainslie seized the start of this sudden death match with flair and defended his lead through the first half of the race and multiple protests only to hand the lead to Paul Cayard’s Artemis on the second weather leg. The Swedish boat made the most of its advantaged starboard entry and pushed TEAMORIGIN below the port layline before the start. Hutchinson, steering Artemis, reported massive shifts in the 16-knot southerly and Ainslie would ride a big leftie into the lead. Pushed outside the left side of the line in the remaining pre-start seconds, he tacked onto port on a big shift and skinned across the bow of the starboard tack Swedish boat right after the gun. The umpires green-flagged the encounter but Hutchinson saw it differently. “Our bowman was saying, “We’re going to hit him! But that’s the game.”
A minute later TEAMORIGIN led by a boat length. Ainslie came back on starboard with a small lead and tacked inches to leeward of the approaching Artemis, who again appealed to the umpires, but to no avail. A big shift on the left kept Artemis in the game and she was only one and half boatlengths behind at the top mark, and trailing by only seven seconds through the leeward gate. It was Ainslie’s race until several tacks into the leg he let Hutchinson get to the right in the oscillating shifts, with 400 metres separation. When they converged again, Artemis led by 46 metres. Artemis extended on the run with a damaged spinnaker and the foot tape reinforcing fluttering in the breeze. “What a brilliant job from all our crew, getting back into the race,” said Hutchinson. “In hindsight, we didn’t do it right up the second beat,” conceded Mike Sanderson, who handles the runners on board. “But you know, we need to make sure we don’t kill the tiger as well. We have amazing talent at looking up the course and picking up shifts, and if we kill the tiger, we are going to be an ordinary talent.”
Race Two: Azzurra def All4One, 00:20 – It was all but over before the start as the German/French boat steered by Sébastien Col was trapped by Azzurra skipper Francesco Bruni and penalised for failing to keep clear. As the boats turned up for the line, Azzurra was able to hook in to leeward of All4One and Bruni luffed his opponent, drawing the foul, with his aggressive tactics. “I have been criticised during the round robin by my team for being too safe,” he said afterwards. “Today I changed a little bit, but the optimum is probably in-between.”
Azzura went on to lead across the line clear ahead and luffed up momentarily to gain weather gauge. Still bow ahead and to weather, she took the German/French boat out to the exclusion zone on the left side of the course and maintained her lead through eight short tacks. The margin was nine seconds at the mark. Col overtook to weather on the run but as they both overstood the layline for the leeward gate and went to douse their gennakers, the All4One gennaker went under the boat, spelling the end of her challenge to the Italians. All4One joins TEAMORIGIN on the sidelines.
Michel Kleinjans and Roaring Forty crossed the Leg 5 finish line of the Portimão Global Ocean Race after 20 days 22 hours 51 minutes and 28 seconds of racing from Charleston, South Carolina, on the final, North Atlantic section of the 33,000 mile circumnavigation.Two hours before Kleinjans crossed the finish line, the double-handed skippers in the fleet left the Marina de Portimão VIP pontoons at the Tivoli Hotel and motored out through the entrance of the River Arade, hoisted sail and set off to greet the fleet’s solo sailor led by a high-powered RIB carrying the Kleinjan’s family and journalists. Also on the RIB, representing the single-handed class, was Nico Budel, the Dutch race entrant who was forced to abandon his Open 40 Hayai having sustained dramatic keel bulb failure in the Southern Ocean on Leg 2 between Cape Town and Wellington, New Zealand.With westerly breeze, Kleinjans was forced to gybe away from the Portuguese coast, making a final gybe onto port when Roaring Forty layed the finish line and Kleinjans broad reached into the River Arade with a final flourish of pace, flanked by the overall double-handed winner Beluga Racer to starboard, the Chilean team on Desafio Cabo de Hornos to port and the British crew on Team Mowgli acting as vanguard astern of the Belgian Open 40.Immediately after crossing the line, Kleinjans snuffed the spinnaker and his friends and family climbed on board to start the celebrations. Once on the VIP pontoon, all the double-handed teams rushed to congratulate Belgium’s most popular solo sailor. Looking relaxed and full of energy, Kleinjans was eager to describe the last leg of the circumnavigation. “Apart from the stay breaking, this was quite a soft leg,” he explained, referring to the broken, starboard D1 shroud supporting the lower section of the yacht’s carbon fibre mast. “I was so far behind that it didn’t really matter,” he continues. Kleinjans left Charleston exhausted after overseeing repairs to Roaring Forty following the boat’s collision with a container ship in the later stages of Leg 4 east of Grand Bahama, and he admits that he was unable to push hard for the first few days of Leg 5.Although the jury system he rigged was strong and effective, Kleinjans had already dropped into a different weather system than the double-handed fleet. “I was just concerned I wouldn’t make the prize giving, that’s all!” he jokes. “If I had been a bit more confident about the time I had left, I think I would have stopped in the Azores for a beer!” Roaring Forty passed within a few miles Flores – the westernmost island in the Azores Archipelago – before passing north of the main group of five islands. “It was just a bit of tourism, really. I don’t think there are any shops there, so I would have had to go on to Faial, but in the end, I just kept going.”Despite dramas during every leg of the circumnavigation, Kleinjans was most concerned in the early stages shortly after the start last October. “My biggest worry was on the first leg when the V1 broke and I’d only just started the race and I really worried that the boat wasn’t strong enough to do the whole race,” he recalls. With such serious rigging failure, his confidence in the 12 year-old Open 40 boat was severely shaken. “In the end, the boat has proved to be very, very strong,” adds Kleinjans.
This is the second circumnavigation race for Kleinjans having competed in the 1985-86 Whitbread Round the World Race on a fully crewed yacht and he is immensely happy with completing a solo race around the planet, but getting back to a routine on land is a pleasing prospect. “I feel like going straight back to work right now!” he admits, laughing. “It has been a long race with a lot of days on the water and not every day is spectacular,” points out Kleinjans. “In fact, there are more days that are not so spectacular.”Despite this opinion, he doesn’t rule out a third circumnavigation. “You always think once is enough, but then you race around the world and you begin to look back and find out which bits you could have done better at and which tactical calls could have been better. It’s sort of unfinished business and you always know that you could have done better.” For the immediate future, Roaring Forty is now on the market. “The boat is for sale and as for me, I’m not sure,” says Kleinjans. “But definitely, sailing hasn’t seen the last of me, for certain!”
At 11:37:05 UTC on Saturday 20th June, Felipe Cubillos and José Muñoz took first place in Leg 5 of the Portimão Global Ocean Race on the Guillaume Verdier Design Class 40 Desafio Cabo de Hornos, crossing the finish line after 15 days 21 hours 07 minutes and 05 seconds of racing from Charleston, South Carolina, having lead the double-handed fleet from shortly after the start gun. Sailing towards Portimão from the south-west in light breeze of around 5-8 knots, the Chilean duo have now assured their place in the record books three times: as the first Chilean team to race round Cape Horn; the first Chilean team to complete a round the world race and the first team to complete the inaugural Portimão Global Ocean Race.
Crossing the line trailed by spectator and press boats with the finish horn sounded by Chilean supporter, Jorge Guajardo from Santiago, Cubillos and Muñoz quickly moored alongside the VIP pontoon at the Tivoli Hotel and the festivities began. “It’s justice in a way,” said Cubillos during an informal session with the press as the Chileans sat on the foredeck drinking champagne. “We won the longest leg and we were first to reach Cape Horn and now we have finished first in the final leg completing the circumnavigation.” The victory in Leg 3 from Wellington, New Zealand, to the tropical island of Ilhabela, Brazil, confirmed their status as world class offshore sailors, while the rounding of Cape Horn at the southern tip of Chile elevated Cubillos and Muñoz to hero status in their homeland.
Although Desafio Cabo de Hornos takes second place overall on points for the entire round the world race, there is no enmity between the Chilean team and the race victors, Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme on Beluga Racer. “It was a real honour to race with the Germans,” reassures Cubillos. “There was true sportsmanship out there on the open ocean and I will never, ever forget it,” he explains. “José and I are now friends for life with Boris and Felix. They both want to visit Patagonia and we have invited them to come to Chile where they have both become very popular throughout this race. In fact, speaking with my daughters, I’m not quite sure if they wanted us or the German guys to win!”
The Chilean and German teams will meet again later this summer for the Fastnet Race and at the Class 40 World Championships in the UK, but there is still one more piece of the Portimão Global Ocean Race that needs to be settled. “We wanted to be the fastest boat to complete the circumnavigation on elapsed time,” says Cubillos. The Chilean and German teams finished Legs 1, 2 and 3 with less than three hours between the two boats, although rudder damage sustained by Desafio Cabo de Hornos in Leg 4 stretched the separation to just over 17 hours.
The result is that Cubillos and Muñoz must finish 23 hours ahead of Herrmann and Oehme to grab the title of fastest boat around the planet. “I really don’t know if we can do it,” admits the Chilean skipper. With the German team on Beluga Racer just 126 miles from the Portimão finish line in the 1220 UTC position poll and making 6.9 knots, it could be very, very close.
As the finish line horn sounded for the Chilean team, one the happiest men in Portugal was without doubt the event’s Race Director, Josh Hall, who conceived the format for the race three years ago. “It’s fantastic to have the first boat back here after completing the circumnavigation,” said Hall as the sound of fog horns and cheers from the spectator fleet filled the air around Desafio Cabo de Hornos. “Felipe and José have sailed a terrific race, so this is a wonderful day for us and for offshore sailing.”
Shortly before finishing the Portimão Global Ocean Race, the victorious skipper of Leg 5 compiled a fascinating and entertaining list of things he had learned, or had been confirmed, during the 33,000 mile circumnavigation. Felipe Cubillos’ thoughts from the race are reproduced below:
1. About children: they’re not your possession forever. Just try and look after them and love them and – if possible – let them find their own dreams for the future without insisting that they fulfil the dreams you want them to have. Don’t expect any thanks for this. It will come; perhaps when you are a grandfather or a grandmother. But when they finally say they are happy to be your son or daughter, all the waiting will be worthwhile.
2. About your parents: never forget that they brought you into this wonderful world. So, always show them that you know how to live!
3. About the sea, the wind and nature: admire them and respect them; they are unique and we cannot replace them. As for the sea and the wind; never attempt to defeat them or defy them. They will always win. If you want to be a sailor, prepare to live in a state of permanent crisis.
4. About personal limits: they do not exist or are less than you really think. What is your limit? That’s the question. You have to reach it to find out.
5. About talent: it means nothing unless it is accompanied by determination, planning, discipline and perseverance. Talent is fleeting: determination is eternal.
6. About love: it is the best thing in the universe if you wake up every morning to a kiss and a smile. Bees and butterflies don’t go looking for a particular flower as there are plenty in the garden, but they always find the right one.
7. About society: always help your equals or those less fortunate than you are and those that have not had your opportunities. These really worthy individuals never ask for hand-outs and only really want a decent break.
8. About leadership: currently, there are no world leaders who actually fulfil any of the promises they make unless it will result in an immediate rise in popularity. I want leaders that lead: not statesmen that react to popular opinion.
9. About wealth: once you have made some money, don’t spend time trying to make more or you’ll become a slave to it.
10. About anguish and bitterness: when you believe that everything is impossible; that you are overwhelmed by problems; that you just cannot carry on, take some time to look at the stars or watch the sun rise. You will soon discover that the Black Dog runs away at the break of dawn….always!
11. About winning: if you want to win, you must be prepared to fail a thousand times and accept that you may lose everything you have gained.
12. About the present: live it intensely. Every unique moment really matters; those who live dull lives are already dead and those who live dreaming about the future don’t realise they’re alive.
13. About success and the failure: learn to live with these two imposters and confront failure – your own and that of other people. We never seem to learn from the example of others.
14. About friends: remember the friends that stick by you when things are bad. When everything is going well, these are the people to celebrate with.
15. About your country: love the place where you were born and work to make your country a better place for all and always fly your country’s flag – whether or not you are winning at football!
16. About fear: not a comfortable travelling companion. Something that can immobilise a person or drive someone crazy. History teaches us that tremendous discoveries have been made by conquering fear.
17. About God and Heaven: I believe that if we act in a kind and considerate way towards our fellow man, we could confirm our place on the waiting list if Heaven exists. If it doesn’t exist, then we will have had our own heaven on Earth. And God? He was in the Southern Ocean: in the clouds, in the storms and in the waves. We didn’t have to search him out: he was always there, inside us, within our very core.
18. About when you have doubts: identify your personal ‘Cape Horn’. Pack a small a small knapsack with the bare necessities for survival and start walking. Keep your head up and don’t stop watching the sky; you will discover the albatross there and it will show you how to take off with a tremendous effort and then fly in freedom. You will then realise that you don’t always need to fly in a flock.
19. ….and never, never give up your dreams: Pursue them enthusiastically and if you do not obtain them, it doesn’t matter. You have tried and this fact will give you strength to achieve the impossible.
20. ….and if you have the good fortune to compete against the rivals that I have encountered in this race, honour them, admire them, but give everything you can to defeat them in combat: they deserve it.
21. … and when I die, if I am given the option of reincarnation, I choose to be reborn as an albatross, destined to fly the desolate wastes of the Southern Ocean and to watch over brave sailors risking their lives.
22. ….and believe me, you should never take the words of a sailor who has just finished a round the world race too seriously. In truth, I think I know a bit more about sailing, but not much more!
As the Portimão Global Ocean Race fleet negotiate the Azores High, speeds have remained fairly consistent over the past 24 hours with averages dropping fractionally early on Tuesday morning. In the 0620 UTC position poll today (16/06), the double-handed fleet are streaming east over the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, 210 miles north of the Azores, with the double-handed fleet leaders, Felipe Cubillos and José Muñoz continuing to poll the highest speed averages on Desafio Cabo de Hornos since dawn on Monday.
For the Chilean team, the south-westerly air stream is a gift and with their Class 40 at its optimum wind angle, the gains have been impressive over the past 24 hours with Cubillos and Muñoz adding 30 miles to their lead over Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme and Desafio Cabo de Hornos currently leads Beluga Racer by 100 miles.
Over Sunday and Monday, Jeremy Salvesen and David Thomson made a big dent in the distance to the fleet leaders, delivering some of the highest speeds in the fleet on board Team Mowgli. “We have had a fast and furious night with winds steady at 28-30 knots with gusts up to 35 and pretty heavy seas,” reported Salvesen late on Monday. “We had the small spinnaker up for the early part of the night until the wind shifted slightly and we needed to head a little further south, so we changed down to the Code 5,” he continues. “Boat speeds have been wonderful, topping out at nearly 19 knots, and we have continued to make good progress in catching up a little on the leaders.”
There is, however, a barrier in front of the fleet. “We are all headed for a big area of light winds in what is known as the Azores High,” explains the British skipper. “The leaders will run into it first and we should keep the stronger breeze for another day or so before we, too, get caught.” Currently trailing Beluga Racer by 128 miles, the capricious nature of the high pressure system is becoming evident and Team Mowgli has slowed to just under ten knots as Beluga Racer and Desafio Cabo de Hornos continue to hang onto the breeze making 10.2 knots and 11.8 knots respectively.
“What happens when we all get into this area is really anyone’s guess and big gains or losses can be made by any one of us,” predicts Salvesen. “The weather forecasters are quite good at telling you almost exactly where strong winds and fronts are, but when it comes to finding a path through complex highs, the science seems to go out of the window as these systems float around with a mind of their own,” he notes. “Knowing exactly what it is going to look like tomorrow is an impossible task.”
When gambling on the movement of the Azores High, the house usually wins, although weather models suggest that an extension of the system bulging north-east towards Europe may snare the fleet. If this is the case, Salvesen’s prediction could materialise with dramatic compression within the double-handed class. For solo sailor Michel Kleinjans, 370 miles west of Team Mowgli, speed averages have risen since midnight with Roaring Forty currently averaging 10.7 knots as the Belgian Open 40 rides the top of the Azores High.
For the highly experienced German team on Beluga Racer, the Azores High offers an opportunity to simply enjoy the sailing. “It does hurt to have to sit here unable to push the boat hard,” admitted Boris Herrmann yesterday as the spreader damage continues to be a handicap. “With clipped wings we float over the sea, nevertheless like a bird of prey,” he continues. “So, we’re slightly underpowered and have discharged the water ballast and Beluga Racer accelerates easily, occasionally hitting 14 knots. It is a great pleasure to just stand on the bow and enjoy the ride as the boat takes off in surfs and flies into the next wave. It’s like driving a chariot without holding onto the reins.”
Currently sailing directly above the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the closest double-handed boat to the Azores, Herrmann and Oehme are soaking up the atmosphere with 930 miles of precious racing in this circumnavigation remaining. “As the sun sets after a superb day out in the Azores High, I grab my camera while dolphins appear and jump waves around the boat and it is impossible to wipe the smile from my face,” says Herrmann. “However, the camera remains in its case as I know by now that these playful companions don’t like being filmed or photographed at all, and as quickly as they arrived, they suddenly vanish.”
Whatever the Azores High holds for the fleet, for Team Mowgli, light winds could be a short term benefit. “We have suffered some further serious damage to our mainsail overnight and there is now a large area of delamination which is going to take some patching and stitching as soon as the wind drops off a bit more,” admits Salvesen. “It isn’t a particularly difficult job if we can get the boom into the middle of the boat but it will take us some hours to do,” he explains. “A perfect job for the light patch ahead.”
With the Portimão Global Ocean Race leaders approaching the Leg 5 Scoring Gate, the divison within fleet is increasing as frontrunners, Desafio Cabo de Hornos and Beluga Racer experience predominantly reaching conditions and Team Mowgli and Roaring Forty battle against headwinds. Over the past 24 hours, the Chilean duo of Felipe Cubillos and José Muñoz on Desafio Cabo de Hornos have extended their lead over Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme on Beluga Racer by just over 20 miles with the Chilean Class 40 leading by 96 miles in the Thursday 0620 UTC position poll as the German team hold the northern position to windward.
While the leaders make fast progress, the upwind boats are striving to punch through the North Atlantic. Holding third place in the double-handed fleet, Jeremy Salvesen and David Thomson on Team Mowgli have dropped back from 300 miles to 384 miles behind the lead boat this morning as the British duo tack constantly in headwinds. For solo sailor Michel Kleinjans on Roaring Forty the conditions are toughest and the Belgian single-hander is now 131 miles due west of Salvesen and Thomson.
For the Chilean duo, there are approximately 120 miles remaining until crossing the scoring gate. “I don’t want to alarm anybody, but we are close to the spot where the Titanic sank on that prophetic night between 11-12 of April in 1912,” noted Felipe Cubillos late on Wednesday. From the latest position report, Desafio Cabo de Hornos is approximately 160 miles south-east of the liner’s collision location while Beluga Racer, sailing further north, is around 120 miles from the site of the tragic disaster and as the boats climb north to reach the Leg 5 Scoring Gate south of the Grand Banks, the temperature is dropping rapidly. “Tonight, the atmosphere has changed substantially,” confirms Cubillos. “Until yesterday, we have been sailing in a fleece and a dinghy jacket, but now we have had to unpack the winter clothes that we haven’t touched since Cape Horn.”
With the drop in temperature and the legacy of the Titanic in mind, Cubillos and Muñoz have been monitoring the presence of ice in the area. “I wanted to check the temperature of the water since that is a good indication of the chance of icebergs,” explains the Chilean skipper. “But even that instrument isn’t working very well and we are already close to the ice limit restriction.” Currently Desafio Cabo de Hornos is 100 miles south of the Portimão Global Ocean Race Leg 5 Ice Limit at 41°N and although icebergs may have evaded the radar interrogation of the International Ice Patrol locates the presence of bergs in the region of 43°N – 49°W: north of the fleet and 120 miles north-east of the Titanic collision.
With the Chilean and German race leaders averaging 9.9 knots and 8.2 knots respectively, Cubillos and Muñoz have also been closely watching the speeds produced by Beluga Racer since Herrmann and Oehme reported damage to their upper port spreader. “From the speed of the German boat it is apparent that they haven’t been affected by the damage to their mast,” explains Cubillos. “With headwinds, they can use all their sails, without reefs in the main, and can sail on an equal footing with us,” he continues. “These conditions will continue through until late on Saturday. After that, it’s hard to say. Where they have a problem is if they have to sail with open angles and the mainsail leans against the damaged spreader. Then there is a risk.”
On board Beluga Racer, the German duo have continued to strengthen the damaged spreader. “Just to let you know, the mast looks incredibly stable and good since the part broke,” reported Boris Herrmann on Wednesday evening. “We are very confident we will make it to Portimão without too big a delay,” he predicts. “The biggest loss in performance is sailing downwind when we do not want to sit the main against the spreader and must reef early,” explains the German skipper, confirming the analysis of his Chilean rivals. “As we have a bit of upwind and light stuff ahead, the injury will only become obvious later when we sail downwind again,” he adds.
With Oehme controlling the boat, Herrmann has spent extended periods aloft attempting to make a robust repair. “The spreader’s internal connection in the mast is broken, but we have made some strong lashings to hold both spreaders in place,” he explains. “Even with reduced sails and everything eased, it is impossible to push, or pull, or drive the spreader back into the mast.” Despite this setback, the Germans are highly optimistic. “Don’t worry about us,” reassures Herrmann. “We’re going well and keeping a close eye on things.”
For solo sailor, Michel Kleinjans on Roaring Forty, the reality of the distance to the double-handed fleet leaders is stark. “Now I am really on my own out here,” he admitted late yesterday. “Not that it matters a lot, but ego-wise it would of course be better if I was up with the leaders somewhere, but it is bit frustrating to see them keep flying away.” The distance has increased steadily since Roaring Forty and Team Mowgli ran into headwinds while Desafio Cabo de Hornos and Beluga Racer have experienced northerly breeze. “I’ve been tacking solidly towards the scoring gate for the past 20 hours,” reports the Belgian yachtsman. “Although this boat is good at it, it doesn’t do a lot of good if the others are all reaching and as you can see, a little difference in distance at the beginning of the leg has grown into a huge one after six days.”
However, Kleinjans is pragmatic and positive about the future. “There’s not much I can do to change the situation other than remain patient and wait for the wind to come from a better angle.” Fortunately, when the wind does provide offwind sailing, Roaring Forty will be in optimum condition to sail fast. “My repair to the bobstay seems to work fine and I tested it yesterday,” he reports
In the 0320 GMT position poll on Sunday morning, Felipe Cubillos and José Muñoz holding second place on Desafio Cabo de Hornos have 138 miles to the finish line and third place Team Mowgli with the British duo of Jeremy Salvesen and David Thomson have 403 miles of Leg 4 remaining. Meanwhile, solo sailor Michel Kleinjans is making good progress despite his collision with a container ship early on Saturday morning and his Open 40 Roaring Forty is making 8.4 knots with just under 300 miles of racing to complete
Throughout Saturday and into Sunday, speeds have remained high for the Portimão Global Ocean Race fleet as the Trade Wind sailing continues with less than 2,000 miles to the finish line in Charleston, South Carolina. In the 0620 GMT position poll this morning, Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme on Beluga Racer lead the fleet 180 miles due east of Martinique in the middle of the Windward and Leeward Caribbean island chain. Currently trailing the German team by 67 miles, Felipe Cubillos and José Muñoz on Desafio Cabo de Hornos are still hunting hard with both boats recording average speeds of 14 knots last night with 12 knot averages this morning.Meanwhile, solo sailor Michel Kleinjans, 245 miles behind the double-handed leader on Roaring Forty, is producing consistent nine-ten knot averages for the past 24 hours and the British duo of Jeremy Salvesen and David Thomson on Team Mowgli are pushing their Class 40 hard averaging 10-11 knots and trailing the race leader by 547 miles.Despite the intense battle at the front of the double-handed fleet, there is still room for sportsmanship: a powerful feature in the Portimão fleet and within Class 40 demonstrated clearly last night as the tracker beacon on board Beluga Racer began transmitting misinformation. The small, battery powered beacons – usually fitted to a yacht’s pushpit or wind vane support – transmit the boat’s precise position every three hours (this can be tweaked remotely to increase frequency in emergencies or close to the finish line) and a land-based terminal shunts the data to the Race Organisation, the shore teams and the competitors while the statistics are uploaded to the event’s website Race Tracker. Occasionally, a yacht’s beacon will lock onto a different satellite than the remainder of the fleet and will send data out of synchronisation giving false and misleading positions and speeds.This was the case between 1820 GMT last night and 0320 GMT this morning as the tracker on Beluga Racer transmitted to an independent satellite, leaving Cubillos and Muñoz on Desafio Cabo de Hornos without information as to the German boat’s speed and position. Although the tactical options in the North-East Trade Winds are small, the psychological advantage held by the German team was potent. However, Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme elected to send the correct, real-time data via email direct to their rivals on Desafio Cabo de Hornos: an unsolicited gift that was not lost on Felipe Cubillos. “What Boris – the German skipper – has done speaks of pure sportsmanship, a characteristic sometimes forgotten in worldwide sport these days,” commented the Chilean skipper earlier this morning. ‘Nice fight up to Charleston and then to the bar!’ wrote Cubillos in an email to the German boat. ‘What you have done in sending the positions when nobody requested you do so says a lot about the quality of sportsmanship on board Beluga….It is an honour sailing with you.’While the double-handed leaders battle it out, Salvesen and Thomson are hurtling north in strong conditions on Team Mowgli. “For the last couple of days we have been reaching along in 16-20 knots of wind with occasional bursts above that with gusts reaching up to nearly 30 knots,” reported Jeremy Salvesen late on Saturday. “For the most part, the sun has been shining brightly and it has been incredibly hot with only a couple of light showers thrown in. We have a full moon, so night time sailing is blissful!” Although the British duo are determined to catch the race leaders, Salvesen and Thomson are playing it straight. “For a while yesterday the wind veered sufficiently for us to get our small spinnaker up and boat speeds improved sharply,” continues Salvesen. “But it then backed again meaning we either had to take it down or run off course – we could do this but it would mean coming up onto the wind hard later on and losing even more speed. It is just too much of a risk to take in hoping the wind will veer sufficiently to enable us to be too far off course at this stage!”Currently, Team Mowgli is 360 miles off the coast of French Guyana heading for the Caribbean islands. “As it is, we will be running close to, but probably not inside, the Leeward Islands of Barbuda, Anguilla and Antigua,” predicts the British skipper. “They are still a few days away, but it would be nice to see land again after a break for a few days!” With a daunting distance of 547 miles to the fleet leaders, the British yachtsmen are still looking for any advantage to catch Beluga Racer and Desafio Cabo de Hornos. “There is a ridge of high pressure in front of us all and the leaders in the fleet will run into this well before us,” notes Salvesen. “Hopefully, this will give us a chance to catch up a little before we hit it too!” For the meantime, the duo can only watch the battle in the north with envy. “They are having an incredible race up front and, with better wind angles than us, are delivering some fantastic boat speeds,” says Salvesen. “Don’t give up on us yet – we should get the same wind in a few days time too!”