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.

TROPHEE JULES VERNE

 

Francis Joyon on IDEC SPORT (Photo courtesy IDEC SPORT)

Francis Joyon on IDEC SPORT (Photo © IDEC Sport)

December 9th, 2015

The happy faces on the sailors during this morning’s video conference live from IDEC SPORT were a pleasure to see. Francis Joyon’s crew is in the process of seeing their gamble pay off and ending up on the right side of the area of low pressure coming down from Madagascar. The big, red trimaran is smoking: 450 miles regained in two and a half days.

Less than 350 miles behind the record pace in comparison with 800 on Sunday, IDEC SPORT is clocking up the miles at very high speed. Deep in the Southern Ocean, Francis Joyon and his crew of five have put their foot down, clearly stating their goal: to attempt to stay above 30 knots for as long as possible and weave their way around the Great Circle Route low down in the Furious Fifties between 52 and 54 degrees south.

Maxi Trimaran IDEC SPORT in the Indian Ocean (Photo © IDEC Sport)

Maxi Trimaran IDEC SPORT in the Indian Ocean (Photo © IDEC Sport)

As fast as possible on the shortest route
This is not some miracle that has suddenly happened, but the result of a carefully thought out strategy developed with their onshore router, Marcel van Triest. According to him, the risk of encountering icebergs is not as great as 48 hours ago, when a 150m long monster was spotted on the radar. The race track looks clearer now and they can get the speed back up.
So they are on the attack, sailing as fast as possible on the shortest route, even if this means diving down to where no multihull has gone during such a record attempt. Yesterday evening, IDEC SPORT gybed at 54°31 south, after passing to the south of the volcanic Heard Island. “It’s a snow-capped volcano, which is still active. We hoped to see the smoke, but we didn’t get to see anything,” said Francis Joyon. Marcel Van Triest – with five round the world voyages under his belt – remembers that during the first Whitbread and Vendée Globe races, when there were no Ice Gates, a few monohulls sailed as far down. But no multihulls. So, in short, this is a long way south and it is very cold. Outside, your hands and face freeze, and they have to change over at the helm very often, sometimes every half hour. Inside the boat, in spite of the very basic heater, fitted above all to get rid of some of the dampness, it is between 6 and 8 degrees. However, in spite of the harsh conditions, the sailors on IDEC SPORT have a smile on their face. A beaming smile, as it looks like after their hard efforts, their gamble has paid off.
On the right side of the Low
The race against the area of low pressure is being won. That’s today’s good news, as Francis Joyon explained, “The area of low pressure has slowed down, while we managed to go faster than expected, so things are looking up. We are in with a very good chance of making it to the other side of this tropical low.” To be more precise about the movement of the low, it is expected to move behind them on Thursday evening. “Unless they have a major technical problem, they should get ahead, and that is almost certain now,” declared Marcel Van Triest this afternoon.
Francis Joyon added, laughing, “In any case, we have to pull this one off, as otherwise Bernard (Stamm) has threatened to turn us around and come back!” The Swiss sailor made it clear he was joking and that he won’t need to carry out his threat anyhow, as the boat is sailing at 100% of her potential… and the sailors are feeling very upbeat today. In two and a half days, the troops on the red boat have cut their deficit in comparison to the record pace in half, regaining 450 miles. Around a thousand miles from the longitude of Cape Leeuwin that they are expecting to cross early on Friday morning, they are now only 350 miles behind the record run.
450 miles regained
It is true that they are not going to be able to keep on making such gains and at some point in a few days from now, they are going to have to climb back up to fifty degrees south, if we look at the weather charts. But they have already accomplished something. While the end of last week was difficult in terms of the numbers, the start of this week has been very positive and exciting. “When we are at the helm, we remain focused and the goal is to keep up a good VMG, with a compromise between speed and bearing,” the German sailor, Boris Herrmann explained. He went on to talk about the food they were getting on board. In general, they have all they require, but the freeze-dried stuff doesn’t taste that good “while the bits of ham that Bernard prepared are well received.”
Gwénolé Gahinet, the youngest member of the crew and a rookie as far as the Southern Ocean is concerned, feels positive too. Apart from his obvious talents as a sailor, he has also been using software to identify sea birds to teach the crew about what they can see. “Here, under the protection, it’s a bit like a gathering in the pub,” joked Francis Joyon during the live link-up, encouraging his crewmen to take the microphone. It shows what the master of IDEC SPORT is like. He willingly shares the microphone and his experience of adventures at sea. This adventure is up there with the best. The boat is at 100% of her ability, the weather strategy has worked out (more gybes at 1200 and 1400hrs UTC), high speeds and all clear ahead… all the lights are on green for the big red boat.
In short

After 17 and a half days at sea, at 1430hrs UTC on Wednesday 9th December, IDEC SPORT is sailing at 31.4 knots at 53°55 south and 87°46 east. Bearing: east (86°) 345 miles behind the record pace.
The crew
The international crew on IDEC SPORT includes just six men: Francis Joyon (FRA), Bernard Stamm (SUI), Gwénolé Gahinet (FRA), Alex Pella (ESP), Clément Surtel (FRA) and Boris Herrmann (GER)
Start
IDEC SPORT set off at 02:02:22 on Sunday 22nd November.
The time to beat
Loïck Peyron and his crew (Banque Populaire) with a time of 45 days, 13 hours, 42 minutes and 53 seconds.
Deadline
To smash the Jules Verne Trophy record, IDEC SPORT has to be back across the line before 1544hrs on Wednesday 6th January.
A peek on IDEC Sport (Photo © IDEC Sport)

A peek on IDEC Sport (Photo © IDEC Sport)

Gamesa in the Indian Ocean (Photo © Mike Golding Yacht Racing)

Golding heads towards the Southern Ocean in a good place physically and mentally (read online here) .

– Boat Captain, Graham Tourell, gives his view of the weather to the end of the week (read online here)

– Message from onboard Gamesa as Mike describes a ‘scary and really horrid 24hrs in dreadful, huge waves’ (read online here).

It is not really his preferred domain, the deep south and the Southern Ocean, but Gamesa’sskipper, Mike Golding, has raced there often enough to feel at home and he embraces the many challenges that the often hostile waters and winds bring. 

 

 
   

After 23 days of solo racing on his fourth Vendée Globe, non-stop round the world race, Golding is in a good place physically and mentally. He lies in sixth position, well established among the trio of his ocean racing contemporaries: the effusive Jean Le Cam whose jokey demeanour masks a fiery determination and huge experience and the reserved, precise Swiss skipper Dominique Wavre. All are drawing on their guile and massive stock of hard racing miles as they seek to keep pace with the leading group.

Gamesa passed the Cape of Good Hope at 1920UTC on 4 December. The British skipper has confirmed many times that time stands still during long ocean races, it is a matter of checking off each key landmark and taking each hour, each ranking, each day as it comes.

 

 

“I am feeling pretty good to be honest. I feel the boat is in good shape and I am in good shape. And I’m starting to feel we are making good progress around the course. To be fair I’d like the gap to the leaders to have been smaller but as long as we can stay in the same weather system as them, I’m happy.

“And now we have seen real boat-breaking conditions like last night, it is a reminder that you cannot afford to push too hard. If you look at how the top three boats are working each other up just now, you really have to hope for them.

“This race was physically hard for me at the start and everything felt a bit heavy and I struggled a little, but now I am right into it and thinking, bring it on!

“I look back and there are no big mistakes to be worrying about now. My decision on how to go through the high pressure ridge, in hindsight lost me a few miles but I am happy that at the time the decision was the right one to make. And I have made some good decisions since then. And with Jean [Le Cam] and Dom [Dominique Wavre] in the same patch of water I feel like I am in good company.

“I have to say that Alex Thomson [Hugo Boss] is sailing a very good race with an older boat. For me at the moment I can’t see how we, in this group, can match the speeds of the newer boats at the front.”

 

 

 
   

The topic of ice gates remains a slightly thorny one, though Golding and his team remain unequivocal that given the level of information available, and the ability to plot the flow of ice so accurately, there is no way that Race Direction could allow the skippers into waters where there was any obvious risk.

Gamesa’s Boat Captain, Graham Tourell agrees. “I think you have to consider that the race has already seen two IMOCA60s hit fishing boats, and so to lose more teams from ice that is known to be present would be reckless for Race Direction. The ice is such a long way north at the moment, some of it is just 150 miles south of the racecourse, and the tracking gets better every year. So if it is known where ice is then Race Direction need to do all they can for the fleet to avoid it.

“In 2004, Mike was right behind Seb Josse [VMI] when the French skipper hit a growler. I remember speaking to Mike about his mindset, he said that the best route for him to take would be to go straight to the same point because there was every likelihood that the one place the growler would not be was where it was last seen. Ice can move hundreds of miles a day so all the skippers can do is view the information they are sent and accept that it is out of date from the moment it is issued and keep an eye out with all means available.”

You can follow Mike in the Vendée Globe via:

iPhone/iPad app: http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/gamesa-sailing/id474489616?mt=8

Android app: https://market.android.com/details?id=com.mikegolding.www.ios

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mikegoldingyachtracing


You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/user/mikegoldingyr


Online: http://www.mikegolding.com

Twitter: @gamesasailing @goldingmike

 

Message from Mike Golding sent on 4 Dec at 21:00 GMT

 
   

“A really horrid 24hrs running/reaching in dreadful, huge waves. The boat has, and still is, taking a serious pounding in these conditions. Only small things have actually broken such as the gennaker furler drum which detached itself from its stowage position and has done some damage to the bow – probably only cosmetic but there could be some delamination – I’m not concerned as this is a strong bit of the boat. One of the daggerboard covers has come off and broken which means the forward leeward ballast fills and needs continual emptying. The leak in the transom is much worse and I had a good amount of water building up which, with the bouncing and pounding, has leapt over into the next bulkhead – I could shut the door but I like to see what’s happening.

“Everything else, keel system, rig sails, deck gear and me have taken real punishment: this is a true Cape of Good Hope experience – and there is no escaping from it. It’s just a function of the wind and massive seas which are so large because of the Agulhas current which is setting against the wind. The water is warm and has both flying fish  (normally unseen in the South) and Portuguese Man-O-War jellies in it – worth dodging when they arrive in the cockpit trailing stingers everywhere!

“The predicted fleet compression looks now like it will become a serious extension by the lead pack – disappointing – I need to work the boat to the max, inspite of the conditions –  just in case the high comes in slower/faster and allows me to squeeze through. Seems doubtful now – but still worth a go.”

 

Boat Captain, Graham Tourell, gives his view of the weather to the end of the week

 
   

“So, looking ahead at the next few days, it looks like the chasing pack will have their work cut out to make any big gains on the leaders, as the weather is naturally taking the skippers nicely towards the next ice gate at Crozet. This in effect is simply a drag race, and as you can see, there are some big miles being pushed! Mike is doing all he can to hold on to the breeze to take him up to the Crozet gate as there is the risk that he could be engulfed by the high and left behind. I’ve just spoken to him this morning and he is in a S/SWly 12 knots and he’s pushing 15-18 knots which is a good sign, based on the forecast. Looking at the GRIB files, it should be going more to the West, but for the moment,  he’s hanging in there, which is a great. The next 24h will be critical.

“As the breeze settles from the South West, it will be increasing anything up to 35/40kts at times, and as we’ve heard from the skippers, they are already experiencing big gusts, but it is the wave conditions which are making life particularly uncomfortable at the moment.

“In every edition of the Vendée Globe we see the skippers head into the Southern Ocean and watch in amazement at how hard the boats are driven, and wonder how long the pace can be sustained for.

“I think the answer is becoming clear……. these guys are physically and mentally capable of keeping the pace up all the way through to Cape Horn. The question is, ‘who will get dealt a blow from ‘Lady Luck’?

“The addition of the Amsterdam ice gate is a sensible one by the Race Direction, and from there, it seems the boats will then be able to take more of a dive south to 50 degrees + as they head under Australia & New Zealand.”

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