by Oliver Dewar
The Global Ocean Race 2011-12 (GOR) Class40s are on their 16th day at sea in Leg 4 from Punta del Este, Uruguay, to Charleston, USA.
GOR Race Viewer 15:00 GMT 18/4/12 - Global Ocean Race 2011-12
Half of the fleet is now in the Northern Hemisphere after six and-a-half months in the south with Financial Crisis crossing the Equator in second place at 07:30 GMT on Wednesday. The lead Class40, Cessna Citation, is polling the best averages in north-easterly breeze as the South African duo approach the Equator on Phesheya-Racing with a strong, favourable current beneath their keel, while the Dutch duo on Sec. Hayai have reached the Brazilian port of Fortaleza and are preparing for their crew change.
At 05:50 GMT (02:50 local) on Wednesday, Nico Budel and Erik van Vuuren on Sec. Hayai arrived in Fortaleza and dropped anchor just off the southern breakwater of the city’s busy commercial port. The Dutch duo faced at seven hour wait for the local customs to open their offices before Budel could begin the process of immigration and Yvonne Beusker could join the boat.
Meanwhile, the race leaders, Conrad Colman and Scott Cavanough on Cessna Citation have picked up speed after a windless period trapped in Sargasso weed followed by squalls and have been averaging over nine knots since late GMT on Tuesday night and peaking at 12 knots at 15:00 GMT on Wednesday afternoon in 15-20 knots of easterly wind. 'Only two hours into my three-hour first watch for the night and how different from last night with all the squalls,' reported Colman’s Australian co-skipper. 'A beautiful, clear night full of stars,' he continues.
However, the stunning canopy was abruptly split in two to the west of Cessna Citation: 'About 22:00 UTC, something rather large burned on entry into Earth’s atmosphere,' explains Cavanough, who was 600 miles ESE of the rocket launching and testing facility at Kourou on the coast of French Guiana at the time. 'Whatever it was, it left an amazingly long streak as it burned up in the clear sky somewhere over the mouth of the Amazon River.' Closer to the surface of the Earth, the confusion continued: 'Just found another kamikazi flying fish,' continues Cavanough. 'It had managed to fly down the halyard tunnel!' Amazingly, the fish entered the tunnel’s 100mm X 500mm letter box entry at the mast flying at full pace and exploded into the cockpit by the boat’s halyard and jammer piano between the twin companionway doors. 'I cannot describe how hard it must have been for him to have found the hole, but he did it!'
At 15:00 GMT on Wednesday, Colman and Cavanough’s recent speed had built their lead over Financial Crisis to 300 miles – a highly impressive gain of 76 miles in 24 hours. South of Cessna Citation by 400 miles miles and just five miles south of the Equator at 15:00 GMT, Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire in third on Phesheya-Racing were averaging just over seven knots and keeping tabs on Financial Crisis, but the past 24 hours have been tough. Nick Leggatt describes the conditions: 'It has been quite slow as we battled light, shifty winds and rain squalls and much of our speed has come from being swept along by the two knots of the Equatorial Current, which is like a giant conveyor belt,' he reported on Wednesday morning. 'Once again, the breeze has been all over the place and we were forced to drop the spinnaker and go back to the Solent jib as the wind shifted to due north for a time, but right now it has started to veer towards the east again but the angle is still too tight for a spinnaker.'
Nonetheless, on Wednesday afternoon, Phesheya-Racing was trailing Financial Crisis by 102 miles – a loss over 24 hours of just a couple of miles - despite the confused sea state: 'It’s quite choppy as the wind shifts create havoc with the wave patterns,' explains Leggatt. 'But also the current swirls around a series of seamounts here with depths of about 40 metres, even though we are over 130 miles from land and the surrounding waters are anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 metres deep!'
On Wednesday afternoon, Marco Nannini and Sergio Frattaruolo in second place on Financial Crisis were 550 miles due east of the River Amazon’s mouth. With around 22,000 miles of the GOR completed, Nannini is already looking to the future: 'As this race draws progressively to an end, I've been wondering whether I'd be able to do more racing in the near-future,' ponders the Italian-Slovak skipper who has funded his GOR campaign through personal savings, donations and partial sponsorship. 'Unfortunately, my finances are in a complete shambles and I’ve taken the decision that I will need to sell the boat as soon as possible,' he confirms.
Consequently, Nannini has put his first generation Akilaria Class40 on the market for 109,000 Euros (+VAT). 'This is very sad after sharing so many miles together, but like in any Financial Crisis, a time comes to cut the costs and make sacrifices to get the finances back on track.' Those interested in the boat for purchase or long term charter, can visit Nannini at the GOR base in the Charleston Harbour Resort & Marina in May, or in France following the final leg of the GOR in early June in Les Sables d’Olonne.
While Nannini plans for the future, his Italian co-skipper, Sergio Frattaruolo, is rehearsing for two conference calls with two separate schools in his hometown of Bologna. 'They’re booked for Friday morning and I’ve got a few surprises for the 380 children and teachers at the Raffaello Sancio and Il Guercino schools,' he promises. The students at the two schools, aged six to ten years old and ten to 13 years, have followed Frattaruolo’s adventures since his Mini 6.50 campaign began and the project is immensely important to the 43-year-old Italian sailor. 'It’s incredible that they all follow the GOR Race Viewer and they’ve made interactive projects to go with the race,' explains Frattaruolo. 'I can’t wait to speak with them!'
GOR leaderboard at 15:00 GMT 18/4/12:
1. Cessna Citation DTF 2631 12kts
2. Financial Crisis DTL 300 8kts
3. Phesheya-Racing DTL 402 7.4kts
4. Sec. Hayai DTL 573 0kts
Global Ocean Race website