Offshore ocean racing is all about keeping it together, both mentally as well as keeping your boat is perfect racing condition for a 7,000 mile leg from Portugal to South Africa.
The constant pounding and drenching that the boats get as they race hard to Cape Town takes a toll on them and it’s a full time job for the sailors to manage the ongoing maintenance. Despite due diligence it’s not always possible to foresee a problem as Michel Kleinjans, skipper of Roaring Forty found to his horror. 'This evening just as the sun was setting I was doing some filming and interviewing myself for the camera when I heard a loud bang,' Michel wrote. Earlier in the day a shackle of his mainsheet had snapped so another bang was not welcome news.
'This bang was the kind of bang that you know means trouble,' he continued. 'So I looked around but didn't immediately see anything wrong until I saw that the port d1 had come off the mast.' The port d1 that Michel refers to is in fact a critical part of the rigging that holds up his mast. 'Immediate panic!' he continued. 'I dropped the mainsail and quickly gybed so that the broken stay was on the leeward side. Then I got my gear out and climbed the mast to reattached the stay. This took a long time but finally I was able to gybe back onto course and resume sailing.' By the time he was done it was pitch dark so Roaring Forty continued with reduced sail until daybreak. No word as yet from Michel how things look but we can assume that no news is good news.
While Roaring Forty was zigzagging down the South Atlantic two boats were racing neck and neck to the Recife Gate. Team Mowgli once held a comfortable lead on the red hot Chile peppers on Desafio Cabo de Hornos, but Felipe Cubillos and José Muñoz were mile by mile closing the gap. More than a matter of national pride, beating Team Mowgli to the gate was a matter of points but in the end the British yacht prevailed and Jeremy Salvesen and Dave Thomson gather 1.5 points and Cubillos and Muñoz get a single point. Both boats have altered course as they race down the Atlantic and it seems as if this new point of sail is favouring the Chileans. At the 18:20 UTC poll this afternoon Desafio Cabo de Hornos was a scant 19 miles behind Team Mowgli.
Further back there is a close match race taking place between Nico Budel on Hayai and the South African team of Peter and Lenjohn Van Der Wel on Kazimir Partners. Both boats have now crossed the equator with Budel on Hayai beating the brothers into the Southern Hemisphere. It seems like lady luck had not shone brightly on Kazimir Partners.
'Finally after three miserable days of grey and black skies, lots of wind and no wind, we now have a blue sky and a steady breeze,' Lenjohn wrote. 'We are well through the doldrums and have been beating for the most part of 39 hours in slightly rough and confused seas. We have lost some serious miles to the leaders and been unfortunate with the weather we have had in the last 3 days. Hopefully this is now behind us.'
A few miles away Nico Budel was experiencing the same weather and taking it all in stride. In a phone call to his wife he explained. 'It was raining cats and dogs and I was already soaking wet so I decided to take a shower in the rain. I don’t need the sunshine, I’m singing in the rain. I’m gonna wash that squall right out of my hair and I am on my way to Cape Town.' It seems that nothing bothers the 69 year-young Budel. He too is living his dream and enjoying every mile if this 30,000 mile racecourse. Leaderboard at 18:20 UTC Thursday
DTF in nautical miles Double-handed
Beluga Racer - 2900
Team Mowgli - 3139
Cabo de Hornos - 3154
Kazimir Partners - 3636 Single-handed
Roaring Forty - 3063
Hayai - 3625 www.portimaorace.com