by Oliver Dewar
Global Ocean Race 2011-12 (GOR) leg one, from Mallorca to Cape Town, is currently underway.
Hugo Ramon and Conrad Colman hunting hard for third place - Global Ocean Race 2011-12
After 40 days at sea and 7,000 miles of racing through the Mediterranean and North and South Atlantic, the podium in the double-handed, Class40 GOR will soon be completed, but with just 12 miles separating the front two boats, there’s still no clear candidate for third place.
One week ago, the leg one winners, Ross and Campbell Field with BSL, crossed the finish line 14 hours ahead of Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron on Campagne de France. Having been blocked and delayed by a high-pressure system spreading across the South Atlantic, the main pack of four GOR Class40s are now within scent of the Cape Town finish line, climbing north-east from the high latitudes towards the southern tip of Africa. Leading the second wave of boats at 12:00 GMT on Friday in third place, Marco Nannini and Paul Peggs on Financial Crisis are defending pole position, giving everything they have for the final 200 miles and withstanding a full-on assault from Conrad Colman and Hugo Ramon in fourth on Cessna Citation.
Since dropping from the head of the pack to fourth place four days ago and trailing Financial Crisis by over 100 miles, Colman and Ramon have delivered blistering speeds in frigid, south-westerly breeze, regularly hitting over 20 knots boatspeed with Cessna Citation in reaching conditions and closing back down on Nannini and Peggs positioned further south on a downwind run. At 12:00 GMT, just 53 miles separates the two boats on the water and 12 miles in terms of distance to finish as they converge towards the finish line with 200 miles of race track remaining and although Cessna Citation has been averaging over 13 knots for 24 hours, their speed has recently dropped, while Financial Crisis is picking up the pace to just over 12 knots, suggesting that the breeze has rolled round to the west. If the wind remains in the west, Nannini and Peggs will have a hotter reaching angle and Colman and Ramon’s reaching performance advantage with their third generation Akilaria will be slightly diminished and a match race into Cape Town’s Table Bay is certain.
Having moved north from their southerly position in the fleet, the South African duo of Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire in fifth place on Phesheya-Racing have added 50 miles to their lead over Nico Budel and Ruud van Rijsewijk with Sec. Hayai in the past 24 hours and the Dutch duo now trail the South Africans by just over 100 miles. Currently averaging 11.3 knots, Leggatt and Hutton-Squire have light conditions ahead: 'There are 400 nautical miles to our home city of Cape Town,' confirmed Phillippa Hutton-Squire early on Friday morning. 'We’ve been sailing dead downwind with the bluQube A6 spinnaker up flying off the end of the pole,' she reports. 'We should have wind for the next 36 hours while we continue to ride the back of the weather front, but after that, the high moves in very quickly and then it’s anyone’s guess as to when we will arrive in Cape Town.' Supplies are also running low after 40 days. 'We’ll have to squeeze every inch of wind out of the high in order to cross the finish line before we run out of yummy food,' confirms Hutton-Squire. 'Otherwise we are going to have to resort to the squid that have been landing on the deck!'
GOR Race Director, Josh Hall, talks with John Martin, a former round-the-world, solo sailor and present Commodore of the GOR’s host yacht club in South Africa, the Royal Cape Yacht Club:
Global Ocean Race website