by Oliver Dewar
The Global Ocean Race 2011-12 (GOR) fleet of double-handed Class40s are pinned to the coast by light NNE wind and a foul current, picking their way through the oil and gas fields on the Brazilian continental shelf.
GOR Race Viewer 15:00 GMT 09/04/12 - Global Ocean Race 2011-12
The two leading Class40s, Cessna Citation of Conrad Colman and Scott Cavanough and Financial Crisis with Marco Nannini and Sergio Frattaruolo tacked away from the coast early, but the South Africans in third on Phesheya-Racing and the Dutch team on Sec. Hayai remained on starboard in the light winds from the north with the fickle breeze running parallel along the Brazilian coast making the teams struggle to keep the boats moving.
By 15:00 GMT on Monday, Cessna Citation was clear of Cape São Tomé, but Financial Crisis was caught by the unreadable breeze and dropped one position, while Phesheya-Racing and Sec. Hayai were gambling hard for the wind to go right and avoid entrapment south of the cape.
On Phesheya-Racing, Phillippa Hutton-Squire describes the conditions last night: 'We made way under full main and Solent, pumping ballast in and out as the wind picked up and died down,' she reports. 'I gave up trying to count how many times we filled and emptied the tanks. Every time we thought the wind had filled in for the day, it died!' she explains as the South African Class40 averaged sub-four knots.
Having clipped the eastern limit of Brazil’s enormous Santos Basin oil and gas field, Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire were heading directly into the Santos Basin field off Cape Frio in total darkness. 'We saw lights on the horizon dead ahead,' she explains. 'The sea began to light up and Christmas trees lined the horizon,' continues Hutton-Squire. 'Oil rigs, supply vessels and their associated tenders covered the sea in front of us with their golden lights.'
Despite the human activity, Phesheya-Racing was joined by dolphins and a solitary whale as the South Africans negotiated the drilling platforms and shipping traffic. 'The whale stayed with us for about an hour, surfacing and blowing next to the boat,' confirms Hutton-Squire. 'It was so close at times I probably could have touched it and without warning it would pop up next to the boat and blow giving us a big fright.'
On Phesheya-Racing, a wind shift to the north was originally the desired direction: 'Hopefully, we will get headed a little more allowing us to tack out to sea to avoid more rigs and the larger oil field off Cabo Frio,' says Hutton-Squire. However, the breeze refused to veer; a situation that left Phesheya-Racing and Sec. Hayai heading for the beach and the marshes near the small settlement of Quissama. Indeed, the wind went right and at 15:00 GMT on Monday, Nannini and Frattaruolo resisted tacking back-in towards the coast with Financial Crisis, suffering an expensive, continued port tack eastwards and dropping one place to third.
While the early move offshore by Colman and Cavanough has kept Cessna Citation in the lead and 65 miles clear of the headland at Cape São Tomé, Nico Budel and Erik van Vuuren are sailing as high as they dare, averaging just under five knots on Sec. Hayai and pinching to clear the headland as Leggatt and Hutton-Squire – 15 miles off the coast and 20 miles ahead of Budel and Van Vuuren – must be praying for a further lift to squeeze round Cape São Tomé and avoid a tactically crippling tack to the south-east.
GOR leaderboard at 15:00 GMT 9/4/12:
1. Cessna Citation DTF 4448 4.3kts
2. Phesheya-Racing DTL 70 6kts
3. Financial Crisis DTL 79.7 5.8kts
4. Sec. Hayai DTL 98 4.6kts
Global Ocean Race website