The lead boats in the Portimão Global Ocean Race are all in sight of each other as the race tightens up on day three of this around the world adventure.
After holding a commanding lead since the mandatory point gate at Sagres, Belgium sailor Michel Kleinjans is feeling the heat with both Beluga Race and Desafio Cabo de Hornos breathing down his neck. The wind has picked up and so has the pace as Kleinjans explained in an email to race HQ this morning.
'Not such a nice wake up this morning,' he wrote. 'I gybed back to a southwesterly course at around 06:20h, when to my astonishment I see a boat half a mile abeam from me on my starboard side. It looked too much like a racer, so I take my binoculars to see Felipe on Desafio Cabo de Hornos steaming up under code 5.'
Kleinjans, ever cool and unruffled, instead of charging up on deck and setting more sail, he calmly (and kindly) sent us an email explaining the situation. 'So now while I am writing this I should be putting up the kite and doing battle, but I still have to look at the meteo, which isn't in yet, and make breakfast, which is absolutely necessary. He has spoilt a bit my breakfast, but anyhow it is a race and this was foreseen given the conditions which are great sailing!!!'
The fleet is well into the trade winds and sailing in perfect conditions. Overnight the wind built to 25 knots causing some concern as the pace picked up. Roaring Forty broached and aboard Kazimir Partners (Ocean Warrior) there was a trip to the top of the mast in the dead of night. Skipper Lenjohn Van Der Wel explains. 'This morning we have 15 to 18 knots gusting to 21. The boat is going well, although we did have two minor situations which were resolved quickly. Yesterday the bowsprit pin was not properly inserted and we had to redo all the lashing on the bobstay to get the pin in far enough. And last night with the wind gusting up to 24 knots we decided to hoist the smaller spinnaker. Although there was a good moon there was not enough light to resolve the halyard issue which resulted in them being crossed and potentially chafing. There was no option other than one of us going up the mast. We managed to fix the problem in a few minutes, but its never nice going up the mast at night.'
Kazimir Partners remains the westernmost boat in the fleet and was sailing slower than the boats to the south. The two former superyacht captains are easing into to the race and enjoying the experience. 'This kind of sailing is exactly what we came for,' wrote co-skipper Peter Van Der Wel. 'Perfect downwind sailing. Starting the race from Portugal was a stroke of genius on behalf of the race organisers as it has allowed us get into the rhythm of the race without any major dramas.'
At the 06:20 UTC poll Desafio Cabo de Hornos was the fastest boat in the fleet sailing at 12.2 knots. Co-skippers Felipe Cubillos and José Muñoz have their red and black machine fully wound up and sailing fast under a small spinnaker. The double-handed teams will come into their own as the conditions get livelier and the boats are better managed by two people, rather than one. Team Mowgli remains the easternmost boat in the fleet sailing 45 miles off the Moroccan coast. They will have to gybe soon to position themselves for a fast run through the Canary Islands, the next big tactical challenge for the fleet. Leaderboard at 06:20 UTC Wednesday, 15th October 2008
Roaring Forty - distance to finish 5851 nautical miles
Beluga Racer - distance to finish 5855 nautical miles
Desafia Cabo de Hornos - distance to finish 5866 nautical miles
Kazimir Partners - distance to finish 5914 nautical miles
Hayai - distance to finish 5916 nautical miles
Team Mowgli - distance to finish 5938 nautical miles