by Oliver Dewar
Global Ocean Race 2011-12 (GOR) fleet are on the eighteenth day of racing in leg five from Charleston, USA to France.
Conrad Colman and Scott Cavanough win the GOR with Class40 Cessna Citation - Global Ocean Race 2011-12
After 150 days of racing around the planet, Conrad Colman and Scott Cavanough have taken first place in the fifth leg and have also won the circumnavigation event overall with their Akilaria RC2 Cessna Citation.
Having led the GOR fleet for the majority of leg five Cessna Citation thundered towards the finish line hitting 17 knots under full main and Solent in a large, rolling, Atlantic swell, crossing the short, Vendée Globe finish line south of the Nouch Sud buoy off Les Sables d’Olonne at 13:20:14 GMT (15:20:14 local), with the finish gun fired by Class40 skipper and ex-President of the Class40 Association, Jacques Fournier, who fired the start gun for GOR leg one in Palma, Mallorca, almost nine months ago. Cessna Citation completed the 4,000-mile North Atlantic crossing in 17 days 22 hours 50 minutes and 14 seconds.
Colman and Cavanough motored Cessna Citation along the short channel protecting the town’s harbour and into Port Olona, tying-up on the Vendée Globe Pontoon as moored racing yachts sounded their horns in recognition of an epic round-the-world voyage. Stéphane Tournade, Conseiller Délégué in Les Sables d’Olonne and the government official responsible for all nautical activities in the town, presented Colman and Cavanough with a bottle of champagne as the French press and TV interviews began.
Drawing breath briefly following questions from the French media, Colman shared his thoughts on the circumnavigation: 'It feels a bit shorter because it has taken so long that I’ve already started forgetting bits of it,' he commented, clasping his bottle of victory champagne. 'I started planning this when I finished the Mini Transat and that led to one year of searching for sponsors and another year of preparing the boat and then actually doing the race, so it has totally taken over my life,' says the 28-year-old Kiwi.
Colman has completed the circumnavigation with four separate co-skippers, sailing with Spanish Mini sailor, Hugo Ramon, in leg one; British sailor, Sam Goodchild, in leg two; South African yachtsman, Adrian Kuttel, in leg three and was joined by Australian Mini 6.50 sailor, Scott Cavanough, for the final two legs of the GOR and has claimed first place in every leg except leg one and also holds the GOR’s Class40 24-hour run record, covering 359.1 miles in December during leg two through the Indian Ocean.
For Scott Cavanough, the experience of joining Colman in the GOR has been excellent: 'I’ve enjoyed it a lot and I’ve now sailed about a third of the way around the world if you include the Mini Transat,' says the 30-year-old Australian. However, the final leg of the GOR proved to be a challenge: 'We started to see a few cumulative gear-fatigue issues and we broke the bowsprit,' reports Colman. 'In general, though, I’m really impressed with the Class40 as a platform, they’re almost bullet proof and you can push them as hard as you want and they keep coming back for more.'
Both of the sailors have further round-the-world races ahead of them: 'I’ve got several circumnavigations planned!' says Colman, while Cavanough was deeply impressed with finishing in Les Sables d’Olonne: 'For sure, being here in Les Sables is quite something and it makes you want to come back and do this race again as a stepping stone to doing the Vendée,' says the Australian. But there were more immediate concerns for the double-handed team: 'We’re now looking for a good feed!' explained Colman. 'And maybe one or two drinks,' adds Cavanough.
With Cessna Citation moored in Port Olona, three Class40s are still racing through the North Atlantic led by Marco Nannini and Sergio Frattaruolo with Financial Crisis who were 218 miles from Les Sables d’Olonne at 16:00 GMT on Wednesday with a finish line ETA of Thursday afternoon.
GOR leaderboard at 16:00 GMT 6/6/12:
1. Cessna Citation 17d 22h 50m 14s
2. Financial Crisis DTF 218 10.1kts
3. Phesheya-Racing DTF 697 9.8kts
4. Sec. Hayai DTF 866 9.6kts
Global Ocean Race website