by Oliver Dewar
Global Ocean Race 2011-12 (GOR) fleet have had a tough, 72-hour start to leg two, from Cape Town to Wellington.
Leg 2 Geovoile Race Tracker at 06:00 GMT 02/12/2011 - Global Ocean Race 2011-12
Plummeting into the high latitudes, the five double-handed Class40s ran into light winds at 38 degrees South, 200 miles below Africa, and spent Thursday night waiting for the westerly winds to arrive. Spread over 100 miles east-west and averaging below five knots, the ten sailors regrouped, repaired and drew breath.
At 08:00 GMT on Thursday, Conrad Colman and Artemis Offshore Academy sailor, Sam Goodchild, ceased their flyer to the east on Cessna Citation having built a 43-mile lead over the fleet, tacking onto port and dropping south. The maverick strategy of splitting from the main pack was high-risk: 'It’s pretty fragile as our route east has cost us miles south and that’s where the new wind is coming from,' reported Colman on Thursday night. 'I hope our option will pay as we're still faster than the others despite the sea state.'
Colman is unlikely to have time to celebrate his 28th birthday today as the fleet recover from negotiating the shallow and turbulent water over the southern tip of the Agulhas Bank stretching south of the African continent: 'It’s pretty bloody bouncy out here and the entire boat is sopping wet already,' he explains. 'We're happy with our progress, but aren't sure about how best to get through this little ridge of light winds just to our south.' At 06:00 GMT on Friday, Colman and Goodchild’s lead had dropped to 21 miles over Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron in second place on Campagne de France with Ross and Campbell Field in third on BSL just 13 miles behind the Franco-British duo with both boats picking up speed to the south as they dug into westerly breeze.
Other than the damp microclimate onboard their Akilaria RC2, Colman and Goodchild have successfully slipped into a practical routine quickly: 'Sam and I are working together well, resting two hours while the other gets hosed on deck for two hours,' says Colman. 'Our strategy has been communal, so it will be a shared success if it works. We both feel that we have done more than enough miles upwind in an Akilaria and can't wait to punch through into the westerlies that are coming in the next day or so.'
At 06:00 GMT on Friday, Campagne de France was averaging just over eight knots with BSL polling fractionally under ten knots. 'Since the start of the race we have done nothing but go upwind,' reported Miranda Merron shortly before the new, westerly wind arrived. 'Last night was particularly rough with steep waves on the notorious Agulhas Bank,' she continues. 'We had to slow down at times to avoid slamming too hard in the waves. There is now not much wind and an incredible west-flowing current, but it’s sunny and quite warm and we have dried out after a thorough soaking all night long.'
Holding the western station in the GOR fleet in fifth place, 62 miles behind Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire on Phesheya-Racing, Marco Nannini and Hugo Ramon suffered a broken staysail halyard overnight on Financial Crisis with the line parting in 30 knots of breeze, but with the brief period of calm supplying good conditions to climb the mast. For Nannini, the first few days of racing in harsh conditions have been intense: 'I think the stress in getting things ready in Cape Town wore me out,' he admits. 'We’ve all been there in nasty weather thinking why the hell we're doing it, and when you’re tired and hungry, the answer doesn’t always come easy.'
Considering the abrupt and hard introduction to the Indian Ocean, it is extremely fortunate that Nannini and his 26 year-old co-skipper are already forming into a good team with an immediate, mutual understanding: 'Hugo has been absolutely brilliant in spotting my mood and literally sending me to bed like a moody child,' says Nannini. 'A few exchanges of emails with my girlfriend, Ella, back in London put all things in perspective, letting me breath new, fresh air, so I feel almost a bit embarrassed now, but we are here also to find out more about ourselves, our limits and fears.'
Over the next 24 hours, more headwinds are forecast as the fleet drop further south towards the leg two ice limit in the western Indian Ocean at 42 degrees South.
GOR leg two leaderboard at 06:00 GMT 02/12/2011:
1. Cessna Citation: DTF 6,689 Av Sp 5.5kts
2. Campagne de France: DTL 21 Av Sp 8.3kts
3. BSL: DTL 34 Av Sp 9.8kts
4. Phesheya-Racing: DTL 41 Av Sp 6.7kts
5. Financial Crisis: DTL 103 Av Sp 5.7kts
Global Ocean Race website