by Oliver Dewar
The Global Ocean Race 2011-12 (GOR) Class40s are on their 17th day at sea in Leg 4 from Punta del Este, Uruguay, to Charleston, USA.
Back in the Northern Hemisphere for Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire - Global Ocean Race 2011-12
At 20:30 GMT on Wednesday night, the Dutch team of Erik van Vuuren and Yvonne Beusker restarted racing from Fortaleza, Brazil, coming out of the blocks going fast, hitting ten knot averages as they pulled away from the coast with Class40 Sec. Hayai and remain the only double-handed team south of the Equator.
The South African duo of Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire crossed into the Northern Hemisphere with Phesheya-Racing in third place on Wednesday sailing west of a windless, Doldrums-void spreading across the North Atlantic, but were slowed by a two-knot foul current and have lost ground to second placed Marco Nannini and Sergio Frattaruolo with Financial Crisis. Meanwhile the fleet leaders, Conrad Colman and Scott Cavanough continued to pull ahead averaging over 12 knots for a period of six hours as Cessna Citation digs in to the North East Trade Winds.
Phesheya-Racing crossed the Equator at 16:00 GMT on Wednesday, the second crossing for Phillippa Hutton-Squire, but the 18th for Nick Leggatt whose Equator crossings include the big multihulls Playstation, Daedalus, Sodebo and Groupama: 'I don't think today's was as exciting as some the multihull crossing he has done, but it’s an achievement in itself to skipper a double-handed boat around the world!' commented Phillippa Hutton-Squire early on Thursday. The sun was setting as the South African team crossed the line: 'We opened our bottle of bubbles from bluQube and made our toast to Neptune for getting us this far safely; to the boat and then to all our families, friends, sponsors and supporters and, finally ourselves!' she explains. 'With the downwind Code Zero up and full main, it was a lovely way to end the day and a special treat.'
However, the Equatorial furnace is taking a toll on board the South African Class40: 'The deck is so hot that walking on it burns the soles of your feet and we steer the boat with the pilot to prevent being scorched by the sun,' Hutton-Squire continues. The airless, super-heated interior of the boat is not a viable alternative: 'In the early morning there’s no shade on deck, but by mid-morning you can sit on the lee side under the boom where there’s less than a square metre, but in the afternoon, the deck is mostly in the shade and the boat cools down just a little bit.'
At 15:00 GMT on Thursday, Van Vuuren, Beusker and Sec. Hayai were averaging 9.5 knots sailing 86 miles off the Brazilian coast and trailing Phesheya-Racing by 174 miles, while 670 miles to the north, Colman and Cavanough continued to poll the highest speeds in the fleet at 11.3 knots, extending their lead over Financial Crisis to 354 miles. Nannini and Frattaruolo, meanwhile, have arrived in the more stable north-easterlies and Financial Crisis has been averaging over nine knots since Thursday morning.
For the South Africans, this situation is far from ideal: 'We did numerous sail changes today to try and have the best boat speed, but the current here got the better of us,' reports Hutton-Squire. 'Most of the day we have had a knot or two knots of current against us when the current files show that we should have a knot and maybe more in our favour! So between the current, the shifty, light winds and the heat it was a challenge to keep us moving. During the day we have just watched Financial Crisis slip further away.' On Thursday afternoon, Leggatt and Hutton-Squire had dropped 43 miles to Nannini and Frattaruolo in 24 hours as Phesheya-Racing fights towards the band of trade winds to the north.
GOR leaderboard 15:00 GMT 19/4/12:
1. Cessna Citation DTF 2360 11.3kts
2. Financial Crisis DTL 354 9.5kts
3. Phesheya-Racing DTL 499 8.1kts
4. Sec. Hayai DTL 673 9.5kts
Global Ocean Race website