Leg 3, Cape Town to Melbourne, day 10, on board Turn the Tide on Plastic. Photo by Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race. 19 December, 2017.

The Volvo Ocean Race Science Programme reached a significant milestone when the race completed a global circumnavigation following its arrival into Cardiff, Wales in May 2018, eight months after departing from Alicante, Spain.

Out of a total of 68 samples taken during the course of the Volvo Ocean Race, only two, collected south of Australia and east of Argentina, have been found to contain no microplastics.

The most recent data, taken from sub-surface seawater samples collected on board Team AkzoNobel and Turn the Tide on Plastic boats, found 75 particles of microplastics per cubic metre in one taken off the US coast following the stopover in Newport, Rhode Island.

Levels of 73 and 76 particles of microplastics per cubic metre were recorded as the boats headed towards the mid-Atlantic. These could be connected to the edge of the North Atlantic garbage patch, one of five ocean ‘gyres’, estimated to be hundreds of kilometres across in size.

In the mid-Atlantic, 63 particles of microplastics per cubic metre were recorded, while close to Cardiff, levels were slightly higher with 65 particles of microplastics per cubic metre found.

Earlier in the race, in the Southern Ocean, close to Point Nemo the furthest point from land on Earth, there were between nine and 26 particles of microplastic per cubic metre. Close to Antarctic waters in the South Indian Ocean levels of microplastics were as high as 25 particles per cubic metre

The highest levels of microplastic found so far, 349 particles per cubic metre were found in a sample taken in the South China Sea that feeds into the Kurushio Current and the North Pacific Gyre. The next highest levels, 307 particles per cubic metre, were found at the point where the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean meet.

The microplastic samples were analysed by members of the Volvo Ocean Race scientific consortium in Kiel, Germany.  The data is then uploaded to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) microplastics database where scientists are able to access it open source.

Dr. Toste Tanhua of GEOMAR Institute for Ocean Research Kiel, funded by the Cluster of Excellence Future Ocean, carried out the analysis and is presenting the findings at the Volvo Ocean Race Ocean Summit in The Hague, Netherlands on Thursday 28th June.

Dr. Tanhua said: He said: Thanks to the great cooperation of the Volvo Ocean Race and the teams on the water, we have been able to collect a very valuable and unique data set during the race which we have been able to share with the wider scientific community. Unfortunately, almost all the samples contained microplastics, meaning that the plastics are carried with ocean currents to the most remote parts of the world’s oceans.”

The series of seven Ocean Summits have convened key stakeholders at race stopovers where announcements by governments, business and a range of organisations, have resulted in significant steps to help tackle the global ocean plastic crisis.

The latest samples were collected on the 3,300 nautical mile leg from Newport to Cardiff. The boats also collect other oceanographic data measurements including temperature, dissolved CO2, salinity, algae content (as chlorophyll) that gives an indication of levels of ocean health and acidification.

Volvo Ocean Race boats are also collecting data that is essential for forecasting of future weather and climate changes, in both the short and long term. This is already being utilised by the World Meteorological Organisation and UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.

 Anne-Cecile Turner, Sustainability Programme Leader for the Volvo Ocean Race, added: “The race has now come full circle and the fact that just two of the samples didn’t contain microplastics clearly shows how pervasive they have become.

“The collation of a complete data set by this elite scientific consortium is of exceptional value and provides an historic legacy and clear benchmark for our future understanding of the world’s oceans and climate.”

Microplastics are often invisible to the naked eye and can take thousands of years to degrade. By collecting information on their levels, the Science Programme is helping scientists gain insight into the scale of plastic pollution and its impact upon marine life.

Microplastics in our ocean preliminary data

The Volvo Ocean Race Sustainability Programme is a partnership in collaboration with Sustainability Partners 11th Hour Racing, the Mirpuri Foundation and our other main partners, Volvo, AkzoNobel, Ocean Family Foundation, Stena Recycling and Bluewater. The Turn the Tide on Plastic boat is, furthermore, supported the by Sky Ocean Rescue.

The Volvo Ocean Race Science Programme is funded by Volvo Cars, who are donating €100 from first 3,000 sales of the new Volvo V90 Cross Country Volvo Ocean Race edition to support the initiative.

Stuart Templar, Director of Sustainability at Volvo Cars, said: “This ground breaking programme has provided invaluable data on the health of our oceans, particularly the global extent of the problem of marine plastic pollution.

“It’s clear that the time for inaction is over, and it’s the responsibility of all of us, including industry, to both make better use of plastic and say no to single use plastic. Volvo Cars is proud to have supported the programme and we would like to thank all those involved, especially The Turn The Tide On Plastic and AkzoNobel crews, as well as the excellent team at GEOMAR.”

At the Ocean Summit in Newport, Volvo Cars stated that they would be removing all single use plastic items from their offices, restaurants and events by the end of 2019. In Gothenburg, they announced that from 2025, at least 25% of the plastic in newly launched Volvos would be made from recycled material.

To further our understanding of the issues connected to plastics the Sustainability Programme is conducting a post race workshop with key global stakeholders from science, academia, the private sector and other institutions to explore the theme: ‘’From micro to nano plastic pollution: the current situation and our knowledge gaps.

UN Environment #CleanSeas campaign, which partners with the Race, aims to encourage governments, businesses and individuals to make changes in their own lives to reduce their plastic footprint.

kinetic_sailing_img_1424_590

The Vic-Maui International Yacht Race, the pinnacle of Pacific Northwest ocean racing, covers a distance on the rhumbline of 2,308 nautical miles.  The Vic-Maui race was first contested in 1965 and has been sailed every two years since 1968.  The start venue is Victoria, BC, on Canada’s West Coast, where pre-start preparations are completed in the picturesque Inner Harbour.  The fleet starts just outside the harbour, sails out of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, leaves Cape Flattery on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula to port, and heads across the Northeast Pacific Ocean.  Boats aim to sail around the North Pacific High and into the Trade Winds for the sub-tropical run to Hawaii.  Days and nights at sea pass with sightings of whales, dolphins and albatross, under spectacular sunrises, sunsets, and brilliant starry nights.  The finish venue is Lahaina, Maui, the former royal capital of the Hawaiian Islands.  As each boat crosses the finish line, the boat and crew are warmly welcomed in the Hawaiian tradition, after which the crew, family and friends enjoy a stay on Maui and attend a festive awards banquet. Key dates for the 2014 Vic-Maui:.

7-01-10-595_300.Pre-Start: July 1  •  Starts: July 3-7  •  Finish Time Limit: July 24  •  Awards Banquet: July 26 evening

Anduril (Sail #: 39521)
Class Skipper Yacht Club Type Hailing Port
Racing, Fully Crewed Greg Harms Royal Vancouver Yacht Club Farr 395 Vancouver, BC, Canada
 
Turnagain (Sail #: 74454)
Class Skipper Yacht Club Type Hailing Port
Racing, Fully Crewed Travis McGregor Royal Vancouver Yacht Club Beneteau Oceanis 50 Vancouver, BC, Canada
 
Kinetic (Sail #: 74373)
Class Skipper Yacht Club Type Hailing Port
Racing, Fully Crewed David Sutcliffe Royal Vancouver Yacht Club Beneteau First 47.7 Vancouver, BC, Canada
 
Passepartout (Sail #: 47724 )
Class Skipper Yacht Club Type Hailing Port
Racing, Fully Crewed Peter Shainin Anacortes Yacht Club Stevens Custom 47 Anacortes, WA, USA
 
Bedlam II (Sail #: 2507)
Class Skipper Yacht Club Type Hailing Port
Racing, Fully Crewed Alan Slater Vancouver Rowing Club C&C 41 Redline Vancouver, BC, Canada
 
Losloper (Sail #: 74459)
Class Skipper Yacht Club Type Hailing Port
Cruising Magnus Murphy Shearwater 39 Ladysmith, BC, Canada
 
Turicum (Sail #: 74257)
Class Skipper Yacht Club Type Port
Racing, Fully Crewed Warren “Hale” Hale Vancouver Rowing Club C&C 44 Vancouver, BC, Canada
Blog:….
CV24 skipper Vicky Ellis watches Jamaica and Invest Africa just after the start of Race 10.

CV24 skipper Vicky Ellis watches Jamaica and Invest Africa just after the start of Race 10.

And they’re off! The foggy conditions that have caused delay to the Race 10 re-start lifted enough by first light this morning, allowing teams to officially start this highly anticipated 5,600 mile race of mammoth proportion, to San Francisco, USA.


Jamaica Get All Right
 skipper Pete Stirling explained the race start, which took place at 08:50 local time (0050 UTC):  “After nearly two days of slowly making our way south east out of the Yellow Sea, the fog lifted this morning and lead skipper, Eric Holden of Henri Lloyd, organised a Le Mans start.

“There was a ten minute countdown and at one minute all the crews had to be behind the forward coffee grinder and the engine had to be off. On the gun all the crews rushed forward to get up their headsails. The wind conditions were quite light and from behind so the sail plan of choice was full mainsail, staysail and Yankee 1. Le Mans start rules dictate all boats must keep the same course and sail plan for the first ten minutes, after which they can do what they want.”

After a clean start, the fleet is currently passing beneath South Korea, just under 300 miles from the waypoint beneath Sata Misaki lighthouse on the southern tip of mainland Japan. Qingdao and Derry~Londonderry~Doire, currently lead the pack at time of press but as it is all very tightly packed, the leaderboard is likely to update regularly.

As the fleet turns north along the Japanese coastline, the Kuroshio Current or ‘Black Current’ (a strong north flowing current that appears a deeper blue than the sea through which it flows) will bring stronger, northerly winds, expected to both propel and challenge the teams as they approach the North Pacific Ocean. 

Race 10 includes an Ocean Sprint and Scoring Gate, allowing teams the chance to pick up bonus points along the course. All teams will also be entitled to two periods of Stealth Mode – once activated, that particular yachts position will be hidden from the Race Viewer for 24 hours for attempted tactical gain. 

PSP Logistics departed Qingdao this morning and are now motoring to the same re-start line. Their overall race performance will be based on elapsed time and not first over the line. Skipper Chris Hollis explained his teams thoughts:  “It’s very similar to when we left Albany (Race 5), when we started 36 hours behind the fleet, yet closed in to finish fourth fastest.

“The psychology makes it a little harder to race because you don’t have a boat next to you, but we will set our own gates to achieve time targets and race weather windows. We’re all looking forward to this trip. This is the big one, and we’re ready for it,” added Chris.

 To read all the skipper reports click here or choose individually below. 

 To track the fleet’s progress on the official Race Viewer click here

SKIPPER REPORTS
Sean McCarter
Derry~ Londonderry~ Doire
Simon Talbot
GREAT Britain
Simon Talbot
Henri Lloyd
Rich Gould
Invest Africa
Pete Stirling
Jamaica Get All Right
Matt Mitchell
Mission Performance
Patrick van der Zijden
Old Pulteney
Olly Cotterell
One DLL
Chris Hollis
PSP Logistics
Gareth Glover
Qingdao
Vicky Ellis
Switzerland
20clipper.jpg.article.jpg
Team Garmin
Marco Nannini and Hugo Ramon round Cape Horn with Class40 Financial Crisis (Photo courtesy of Global Ocean Race)

Marco Nannini and Hugo Ramon round Cape Horn with Class40 Financial Crisis (Photo courtesy of Gllobal Ocean Race)

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

Conrad Colman and Adrian Kuttel lead the GOR fleet around Cape Horn (Photo courtesy of Cessna Citation)

Conrad Colman and Adrian Kuttel lead the GOR fleet around Cape Horn (Photo courtesy of Cessna Citation)

In the middle of the Southern Ocean night at 06:25 GMT on Wednesday, Conrad Colman and Adrian Kuttel crossed the Felipe Cubillos Cape Horn Gate with Class40 Cessna Citation at the head of the double-handed Global Ocean Race (GOR) fleet.

The 28 year-old Kiwi, Colman, and his 41 year-old South African co-skipper, Kuttel, now join the ranks of Cape Horners and take the Felipe Cubillos Trophy in memory of the late Chilean yachtsman and skipper of the first Class40 to round Cape Horn in the 2008-09 GOR.  

Colman and Kuttel had pushed hard throughout Tuesday hitting 14-knot averages to beat the gale forecast to hit Cape Horn: “It was pretty intense yesterday, with 30 knots sustained, gusting more,” Colman reported on Wednesday morning shortly after rounding the cape. “I put myself on the helm for nine hours straight to make the best progress possible with the small running spinnaker,” he explains. “Following a backing shift in the wind, we were still able to make good miles east with flatter sails and as the squalls intensified we ended up broad reaching under just the staysail and double-reefed main.”

Colman and Kuttel crossed the Felipe Cubillos Cape Horn Gate at 57S, 87 miles south of Horn Island, clipping the southern tip of Latin America’s continental shelf and wisely avoiding the shallower water closer to the cape. “I finally had a nap just before crossing the magic line of longitude and climbed into the sleeping bag with a huge satisfied smile on my face,” says the Kiwi skipper. “A pretty special place to be and what a way to do it!” Colman exclaims. “First place at Cape Horn in my first circumnavigation after all the challenges just to get here. Very memorable.” Having submitted their Cape Horn ETA on Saturday when 1,000 miles west of the cape, Colman and Kuttel are in the running for the Cape Horn Navigation Prize as Cessna Citation rounded the cape just one hour and 25 minutes behind their projected routing schedule.

In the 15:00 GMT position poll on Wednesday, Cessna Citation was 69 miles south-east of Cape Horn, climbing north-east steeply as the gale approached. “The sea state is still well established, but the wind has moderated for now before building again significantly for a time,” says Colman who is already looking beyond Isla de los Estados. “Current routing is unequivocally around the east side of the Falklands,” predicts Colman of the obstacle positioned 330 miles down the track.

Meanwhile, 300 miles west of Cessna Citation on Wednesday afternoon in second place onFinancial Crisis, the Cape Horn ETA of mid-evening GMT on Wednesday submitted by Marco Nannini and Hugo Ramon became unachievable as the Italian-Spanish duo hove-to at 57S, south-west of the cape to avoid intercepting gale force winds sweeping up from Antarctica. Marco Nannini explained the decision on Tuesday evening: “After much debate, we decided it was simply too risky for us to carry on heading for such a dangerous rendezvous and have instead slowed down and we’ll let the worst of the gale blow through,” he confirmed.  Although Cessna Citation had the lead and the horsepower to attempt clearing Cape Horn, Nannini and Ramon were further west and handicapped by the loss of their main, masthead spinnaker. “We considered this option, but ruled it out as we didn’t think we could make it in time,” Nannini explains.

His Spanish co-skipper was in total agreement: “Cape Horn may have the smell and aura of adventure and freedom, but it scares most experienced seamen,” points out Ramon. “Hundreds of boats have broken up and sunk here and it’s only because now it’s mainly racing boats that round the cape that the number isn’t even greater,” he adds. “The Race Director of the GOR, Josh Hall, has raced around Cape Horn three times and Nick Leggatt on Phesheya-Racing has been around the Horn five times and they both advised us in emails over the past couple of days that in the conditions we would face in the gale, there would be enormous, confused seas as we crossed close to the continental shelf.”

Early on Wednesday, Nannini and Ramon – carrying storm jib and four reefs in the main – reported that all was well on Financial Crisis and their skilled and text book heaving-to manoeuvre was working comfortably in 35-45 knots and gusts up to 55 knots. By 13:00 GMT, the low pressure was on the move, heading for Cape Horn, centred south-east of the Italian-Spanish Class40 and Nannini and Ramon were back in the game, tucking into the 30-knot south-westerlies on the back of the system. At 15:00, Financial Crisis was averaging just under eight knots with 280 miles remaining to the Felipe Cubillos Cape Horn Gate. 

As Cessna Citation approaches the Southern Ocean’s exit door and Financial Crisis piles on to Cape Horn, Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire are picking their way across the top of a high-pressure system with Phesheya-Racing and at 15:00 GMT on Wednesday, the South African duo had slowed to under three knots as the light airs struck at 58S with 860 miles to Cape Horn.

GOR leaderboard at 15:00 GMT 22/2/12:

1.    Cessna Citation DTF 1363 10.4kts
2.    Financial Crisis DTL 316 7.5kts
3.    Phesheya-Racing DTL 918 2.3kts

 

Conrad Colman spots wind from masthead on Cessna Citation (Photo courtesy of Cessna Citation)

Conrad Colman spots wind from masthead on Cessna Citation (Photo courtesy of Cessna Citation)

Self-administered surgery for Adrian Kuttel on Cessna Citation On Sunday afternoon GMT, Conrad Colman and Adrian Kuttel on Cessna Citation, leading the Global Ocean Race Class40s through the Southern Ocean, ran straight into a band of light wind stretching across the Pacific’s high latitudes with speed averages plummeting to below three knots. Further north-west, Marco Nannini and Hugo Ramon in second on Financial Crisis have held the breeze as they approach 54S, taking a massive 117 miles from Colman and Kuttel in 24 hours. West of the bluQube Scoring Gate, Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire have made solid progress dropping south through the Roaring Forties in remarkable conditions with Phesheya-Racing. While Colman and Kuttel have been leading the fleet through the currently calm Furious Fifties, Adrian Kuttel took the opportunity to attend to his badly infected fingernails – a problem that arose through diesel spilt in the Class40’s bilge during the upwind pounding west of the scoring gate. “This was a high priority as it was affecting the sailing,” confirms the 44 year-old South African who was finding handling sheets and tying knots extremely difficult with swollen and tender fingers. Kuttel assembled the appropriate tools for the self-administered procedure: “In this case, the sharp knife blade in my trusty – if somewhat rusty – Leatherman and, after much deliberation and internal debate, a wet wipe from our ever-dwindling supply,” he explains. The process is not for the squeamish. “Works procedure was to scratch around the infected fingernail until a point of entry behind the fingernail could be found and the wound could be lanced,” says Kuttel. “Next step was to grunt up, clench jaw, and squeeze the infected fingertip until all the gunk had been expunged via the hole created during the earlier surgical procedure with the Leatherman.” This was then repeated a further nine times. “There was varying degrees of discharge with the amount of discharge being in direct proportion to pain,” he adds. Kuttel is now using antiseptic cream on his damaged hands and his fingers are improving rapidly. Meanwhile, the Italian-Spanish duo on Financial Crisis were making eight knots in the 15:00 GMT position poll on Monday, trailing Cessna Citation by 141 miles as Colman and Kuttel slowed to below two knots. The remoteness of their current location is getting to Hugo Ramon. “We are now getting a very long way south,” reports the Spanish yachtsman as they close in on 54S. “It is now more inhospitable and colder than I’ve ever experienced before,” he continues. “The closest speck of land is an uninhabited lump of rock about 1,700 miles to the north, which is almost the same distance as we have to Cape Horn in front of us.”

 

Conrad Colman and Adrian Kuttel on Cessna Citation led the GOR fleet into Cook Strait at the start of Leg 3

Conrad Colman and Adrian Kuttel on Cessna Citation led the GOR fleet into Cook Strait at the start of Leg 3

 Conditions have been improving significantly at the front of the fleet in the Southern Ocean since two of the Global Ocean Race (GOR) Class40s turned back to New Zealand on Thursday. Leg 3 from Wellington to Punta del Este, Uruguay has already packed a significant punch with headwinds reaching up to Force 9 pounding the double-handed fleet and forcing the two lead boats, Buckley Systems and Campagne de France, to head west. However, within 48 hours the environment in the Roaring Forties has begun to moderate.

Indeed, leading the fleet and furthest east, Conrad Colman and his South African co-skipper, Adrian Kuttel, ran into light airs during Friday evening GMT with their Akilaria RC2 Cessna Citation and while Colman reports clear skies and sunshine at 47S, allowing the duo to dry clothes and gear in the cockpit of their Class40, Marco Nannini and Hugo Ramon on Financial Crisis in second and Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire on Phesheaya-Racing in third have closed down the gap to the leaders as they remain in Force 6 headwinds.

 

 For all the GOR teams the news of Ross and Campbell Fields’ decision to turn west followed by the same call made by Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron has been a severe blow after racing together around half the planet. On Financial Crisis, the scenario still seems unreal: “If this was a movie, the last two days would have made for some nice drama on the high seas,” believes Marco Nannini. “Imagine the context: a fleet of racing boats headed for Cape Horn; a South Pacific gale battering the fleet; huge waves crashing against the boat through the night; the constant noise of halyards hitting the mast; leech lines flapping; autopilot ram overloaded; water sloshing in the bilges; the smell of your own boots turning your stomach inside out; wet, cold, miserable,” says Nannini, graphically constructing the storyboard for his forthcoming, big screen, offshore epic. “Then the satellite phone rings…no one has ever called us on the satellite phone!” For the complete update, click here.

A united GOR fleet as the Class40s head deeper into the Pacific

Conditions have been improving significantly at the front of the fleet in the Southern Ocean since two of the Global Ocean Race (GOR) Class40s turned back to New Zealand on Thursday. Leg 3 from Wellington to Punta del Este, Uruguay has already packed a significant punch with headwinds reaching up to Force 9 pounding the double-handed fleet and forcing the two lead boats, Buckley Systems and Campagne de France, to head west. However, within 48 hours the environment in the Roaring Forties has begun to moderate.

 

Indeed, leading the fleet and furthest east, Conrad Colman and his South African co-skipper, Adrian Kuttel, ran into light airs during Friday evening GMT with their Akilaria RC2 Cessna Citation and while Colman reports clear skies and sunshine at 47S, allowing the duo to dry clothes and gear in the cockpit of their Class40, Marco Nannini and Hugo Ramon on Financial Crisis in second and Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire on Phesheaya-Racing in third have closed down the gap to the leaders as they remain in Force 6 headwinds.

 

For all the GOR teams the news of Ross and Campbell Fields’ decision to turn west followed by the same call made by Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron has been a severe blow after racing together around half the planet. On Financial Crisis, the scenario still seems unreal: “If this was a movie, the last two days would have made for some nice drama on the high seas,” believes Marco Nannini. “Imagine the context: a fleet of racing boats headed for Cape Horn; a South Pacific gale battering the fleet; huge waves crashing against the boat through the night; the constant noise of halyards hitting the mast; leech lines flapping; autopilot ram overloaded; water sloshing in the bilges; the smell of your own boots turning your stomach inside out; wet, cold, miserable,” says Nannini, graphically constructing the storyboard for his forthcoming, big screen, offshore epic. “Then the satellite phone rings…no one has ever called us on the satellite phone!”

 

 

Conrad Colman and Adrian Kuttel on Cessna Citation led the GOR fleet into Cook Strait at the start of Leg 3. (Photo by Ollie Deware )

Conrad Colman and Adrian Kuttel on Cessna Citation led the GOR fleet into Cook Strait at the start of Leg 3. (Photo by Ollie Deware )

 

The double-handed Global Ocean Race (GOR) fleet started Leg 3 from Wellington, New Zealand, to Punta del Este, Uruguay, with a 6,200-mile course through the Pacific Ocean, around Cape Horn and through the South Atlantic ahead of the five Class40s.

 

 Shortly after 13:00 local time, the Class40s motored out of Queens Wharf – the fleet’s base for almost one month – and into Lambton Harbour followed by a spectator armada of motorboats, sailing yachts and dinghies. While the fleet milled in Lambton Harbour, the five teams self-sealed their engines with instructions to email a time-stamped image of the yellow, plastic tie-wrap in place to Co-Race Director, Sylvie Viant within five hours of the start gun.

 In around ten knots of breeze, Conrad Colman and Adrian Kuttel were first across the line with Cessna Citation, followed by the South African duo of Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire with Phesheya-Racing. Colman and Kuttel led the fleet east across the mouth of Evans Bay as the breeze built fractionally and around Point Halswell, hoisting spinnakers and leaving Ward Island and Hope Shoal to port. For a brief period the breeze died completely before switching through 180 degrees, forcing a beat and short tacking through the gap between the eastern shoreline of Wellington Harbour and the jagged, exposed rocks of Barrett Reef before rounding Pencarrow Head and exiting the 2km-wide harbour entrance.

Cessna Citation led the fleet out into Cook Strait with Ross and Campbell Field on Buckley Systems in hot pursuit and as the Class40s dropped south into the Pacific, the wind built quickly to 20 knots with a long rolling swell for the first night at sea, forcing the teams to reef as the sun began to dip

 

Marco Nannini and Hugo Ramon wave  goodbye from Financial Crisis  (Photo by Ollie Deware )

Marco Nannini and Hugo Ramon wave goodbye from Financial Crisis (Photo by Ollie Deware )

In the 06:00 GMT position poll, the Fields on Buckley Systems were furthest east in the fleet, closest to the Great Circle route and led the fleet with Cessna Citation furthest west dropping back to fourth and Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron moving up to second on Campagne de France. The South Africans on Phesheya-Racingheld third place with Marco Nannini and Hugo Ramon in fifth with Financial Crisis with just five miles separating the Class40s.

 

The GOR’s Race Ambassador, Dee Caffari, explains what is ahead for the teams over the next month: “This is the big one, but it is also rewarded with the infamous landmark of Cape Horn,” she explains. “The main difference with this ocean leg is that there are very few options along the way,” Caffari continues. “The previous leg had the teams cross the Indian Ocean which is littered with islands along the way which can give options. Now, they will have none,” she adds. “Once they leave the relative safety of the Cook Strait, they enter the Pacific with nothing between them and Cape Horn.”
Compared with the Indian Ocean, the Pacific is potentially a smoother ride for the five Class40s: “It is a long way, but the good news is the weather can be more enjoyable,” says Dee, who has raced around the world through the Southern Ocean four times; single-handed, double-handed and fully-crewed. “The waves will seem slightly longer and wider spaced allowing the boats to have more comfortable surfing conditions,” Caffari predicts. “The bad weather doesn’t seem as frequent as it is in the Indian Ocean, but it is almost guaranteed that there will be a big blow before you leave the deep South and head back into the relative safety of the Atlantic Ocean,” she warns. “It is almost as if the Southern Ocean wants to say goodbye and leave you with a lasting reminder of how hostile it can be. The sailors will finish this leg exhausted, but also exhilarated and possibly even a little bit sad, as saying goodbye to the South is difficult as it is such a magical place to experience.”
GOR Leg 3 positions at 06:00 GMT 29/01/12
1.    Buckley Systems DTF 6,040nm 7.4kts
2.    Campagne de France DTL 2.6nm 8.1kts
3.    Phesheya-Racing DTL 3.2nm 8kts
4.    Cessna Citation DTL 4nm 8.6kts
5.    Financial Crisis DTL 5.2nm 7.4kts

 

GOR points table and crew list for Leg 3:
1.    Buckley Systems: 64 points. Ross and Campbell Field (NZL/NZL)
2.    Campagne de France: 56 points. Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron (FRA/GBR)
3.    Cessna Citation: 54 points. Conrad Colman and Adrian Kuttel (NZL/RSA)
4.    Financial Crisis: 42 points. Marco Nannini and Hugo Ramon (ITA/ESP)
5.    Phesheya-Racing: 24 points. Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire (RSA/RSA)
6.    Sec. Hayai: 6 points. Nico Budel and Frans Budel (NDL/NDL) RTD Leg 2, DNS Leg 3. Will re-join GOR for Legs 4 and 5