by Oliver Dewar
The Global Ocean Race 2011-12 (GOR) fleet are on their 14th day at sea in Leg 4 from Punta del Este, Uruguay, to Charleston, USA.
GOR Race Viewer 15:00 GMT 16/4/12 - Global Ocean Race 2011-12
Marco Nannini and Sergio Frattaruolo took Class40 Financial Crisis through the Celox Sailing Scoring Gate in second place early on Monday morning and at 15:00 GMT the same afternoon, the South African team on Phesheya-Racing are just a handful of miles from crossing the virtual line off the coast of Brazil.
The race leaders, Conrad Colman and Scott Cavanough, have continued to pick up speed averaging just over 11 knots on Monday afternoon as they take their Akilaria RC2 Cessna Citation towards the latitude of the mouth of the River Amazon and approach the Equator for the second time in the 30,000-mile circumnavigation.
Although Colman and Cavanough are polling the best speeds in the fleet, Nannini and Frattaruolo are pushing hard averaging above ten knots as they round the eastern corner of Brazil with Leggatt and Hutton-Squire on Phesheya-Racing and Budel and Van Vuuren on Sec. Hayai separated by 48 miles marking an eight mile gain by the Dutch team in the past 24 hours.
For the Italian-Slovak team on Financial Crisis, the first 2,200 miles of Leg 4 have been hard, but highly satisfactory. 'We've proceeded in a near perfect straight line to this next corner where we'll all ‘turn left’ towards Charleston,' explained Nannini on Monday morning. 'The Celox Sailing Scoring Gate is placed on this turning point which marks the beginning of the next phase of the race and we're quite pleased to be crossing in second place after the boys on Cessna who unfortunately have slipped from our reach and are further ahead,' he continues as Colman and Cavanough build a 269-mile lead – a 18 mile gain in 24 hours. 'We've however succeeded in our intermediate goal of being first of the three first generation Akilarias in the race and kept the Dutch and South African teams behind us.' At 15:00 GMT on Monday, Nannini and Frattaruolo held a lead of 107 miles over Phesheya-Racing and a 155-mile lead over Sec. Hayai.
With the majority of the past fortnight spent sailing around 70 miles off the coast of Brazil, it has been a tricky and often frustrating period on board all the GOR Class40s. 'Every afternoon the sky would swell with clouds forming out of the damp, hot air, each cloud approaching would bring stronger winds at first, but a wind hole behind it with significant wind shifts making for tricky sail changes,' continues Nannini as the two sailors continuously swapped between the two furling headsails; Solent and gennaker. 'Normally when the gennaker is not in use it’s taken down to avoid the risk of it coming unfurled and damaged, but we figured we needed to be agile and in the ever-changing conditions so we kept it up all the time and were able to rapidly go from one head sail to the other and keep creeping forward during the phases of variable winds until the air cleared out again giving again regular winds.'
On Monday afternoon, Financial Crisis was 115 miles off the coast of Brazil and the temperature is rising dramatically as crossing the Equator draws nearer. 'The heat is increasing and I found myself steering in my pants and T-shirt during the rain showers,' reports Nannini. 'The air cools down somewhat and after a while exposed to wind and rain you can experience a glimpse of that feeling of ‘cold’ that you keep dreaming of the rest of the time.' During Leg 1, the Equatorial heat caused Nannini’s feet to swell badly and this condition has returned. 'Luckily this time it doesn’t seem to be nearly as bad,' he reassures, but there are associated complications: 'When I left Punta del Este, my abdominal area was also quite swollen,' confirms Nannini. 'I feared a problem with water retention, but after a consultation with my doctor he confirmed it was a case of beer, burger and pizza retention which should be cured by the far less appealing freeze dried food diet of recent.'
While Nannini and Frattaruolo sail parallel to the coast, Cessna Citation is just a few hours from crossing the Equator. Both Colman and Cavanough have crossed 0 degrees of latitude before, but this will be a particularly memorable crossing for Scott Cavanough. 'My last Equator crossing was in October last year, not long after the GOR fleet crossed it,' explains the 30-year-old Australian who was sailing solo on board his mini 6.50 Skippy in the Mini Transat Race. 'It is, however, a crossing I would like to forget as I’d been picked up by one of the race's support vessels a couple of days out from the Equator as I had been hit by a tanker in the Doldrums with not much wind and was unable to get out of the way of the ship.'
Being run over by a ship that failed to acknowledge repeated VHF calls and parachute flares had disastrous consequences for Cavanough. 'My boat was dismasted and badly damaged nearly 1,000 miles from the coast of Brazil,' he recalls. 'With my own safety in jeopardy, I made the tough decision to abandon my vessel,' says Cavanough. 'So, today's Equator crossing will be a much happier one. I’m lucky to be still alive and to be doing what I enjoy the most... sailing. We are in front and sailing fast now in trade winds south of the Equator, so life is good!'
GOR leaderboard 15:00 GMT 16/4/12:
1. Cessna Citation DTF 3046 11.2kts
2. Financial Crisis DTL 269 10.2kts
3. Phesheya-Racing DTL 376 9.6kts
4. Sec. Hayai DTL 424 8.5kts
Global Ocean Race website