by Oliver Dewar
Global Ocean Race 2011-12 (GOR) fleet are on the seventeenth day of racing in leg five from Charleston.
A large commercial ship passes astern of Phehseya-Racing north of the Azores - Global Ocean Race 2011-12
The leading Class40 is approaching the final finish line of the 30,000-mile circumnavigation in leg five to Les Sables d’Olonne, France, and the two skippers, Conrad Colman and Scott Cavanough, are flat lining east through the Bay of Biscay in following wind with just 137 miles remaining for Cessna Citation on Tuesday afternoon and an ETA at the finish line of mid-afternoon on Wednesday for the GOR’s overall winner.
Meanwhile, in second place, the Italian-Slovak duo of Marco Nannini and Sergio Frattaruolo with Class40 Financial Crisis are piling towards the Bay of Biscay trailing Colman and Cavanough by 328 miles at 15:00 GMT on Tuesday with a 464-mile lead over the South African duo of Phillippa Hutton-Squire and Nick Leggatt in third with Phesheya-Racing and the Dutch team of Nico and Frans Budel in fourth with Sec. Hayai, 179 miles behind Leggatt and Hutton-Squire, are furthest south, 130 miles due north of the Azores.
For Cessna Citation and Financial Crisis, the final miles of the nine-month circumnavigation should be plain sailing, although the busy shipping lanes and increase in commercial fishing traffic always pose an obstacle and the south-westerly wind may build, particularly for Financial Crisis on Tuesday night. Overall, for Colman and Cavanough, the following breeze will sustain until the finish line while Nannini and Frattaruolo should escape the strongest of the southerly breeze that is forecast to arrive west of Biscay on Wednesday, but both Phesheya-Racing and Sec. Hayai are heading for harder conditions as they approach Europe.
On Phesheya-Racing, Nick Leggatt explains the scenario for the South African team’s final 790 miles: 'There’s a complex system of three depressions, including the remnants of Tropical Storm Beryl, all merging somewhere about 700 miles east of Newfoundland and then tracking towards the east, towards us again!' says Leggatt, looking over his shoulder at the systems building to the north-west. 'The latest forecast issued by Meteo-France would indicate winds of anything from 17-40 knots and with even stronger gusts,' he confirms.
The downloaded weather forecast was soon confirmed by an unusual source: 'A contact appeared on our trusty Garmin radar screen and a short while later the AIS revealed it to be a cargo ship called the Friendship V,' says Leggatt. The 172-metre long ship was soon in sight: 'She was clearly pitching and rolling with sheets of water spraying across her decks as she laboured her way southwards at just 9.5 knots,' he continues.
Leggatt and Hutton-Squire hailed the ship via VHF and discovered she was en route from Finland to Mexico, but both South Africans considered she was far south of the usual course for this route. 'Upon further enquiry, her captain revealed that he had altered course towards the south as he is concerned about the approaching gale and wants to be well clear of its path!' adds Leggatt. 'So it’s good to know that it is not just us that worry about the weather...'
GOR leaderboard at 15:00 GMT 5/6/12:
1. Cessna Citation DTF 137 9.2kts
2. Financial Crisis DTL 328 10.6kts
3. Phesheya-Racing DTL 792 7.7kts
4. Sec. Hayai DTL 971 9.8kts
Global Ocean Race website