Global Ocean Race (GOR) 2011-12 leg one is currently underway.
Having taken the lead in the second wave of the double-handed Class40s on Monday morning, Marco Nannini and Paul Peggs in third place with Financial Crisis kept the pressure on, consistently averaging above 11 knots overnight with around 16 knots of north-westerly breeze from the trailing edge of the high-pressure zone providing fast reaching conditions for the duo’s three year-old Akilaria Class40.
In fourth place, Conrad Colman and Hugo Ramon dropped quickly south with their new Akilaria RC2, Cessna Citation, moderating their course as the high-pressure system slipped east towards the southern tip of Africa, but were forced to watch their distance deficit to Financial Crisis grow exponentially as they closed on the main pack.
Furthest south, skating across the top of the Roaring Forties, the South African duo of Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire in fifth with their first generation Akilaria Phesheya-Racing kept hold of Nannini and Peggs and resisted the fast approach of Sec. Hayai with the Dutch duo of Nico Budel and Ruud van Rijsewijk in sixth.
As the sun rose in the high latitudes of the South Atlantic on Tuesday morning, the main pack of GOR Class40s were spread over 180 miles in terms of distance to finish, south of the finish line’s latitude, fanning out over 230 miles north-south for the final 1,000 miles to the leg one finish in Cape Town with Nannini and Peggs leading the group after 37 days at sea.
On Financial Crisis, Nannini and Peggs are extremely happy with their position and the current conditions: 'The Southern Ocean with its albatrosses and deep sea creatures is treating us well,' reports the 33 year-old Italian skipper. In the 09:00 GMT position poll on Monday, Financial Crisis has built a lead of 113 miles over Cessna Citation and continues to average the highest speed in the fleet at slightly over 11 knots. A priority for Nannini and Peggs is covering the South African team 145 miles off their starboard quarter: 'We’re doing our best to manage our position relative to Phesheya and we dipped south to cover them several days ago when we started to have our first doubts about the feasibility of the northern route taken by Cessna.' Since Nannini and Peggs took the deal breaking decision, the main group of Class40s has undergone a reshuffle: 'Thanks to Phesheya who forced us to rethink our route when they broke away from the pack and dipped to the south, we‘re enjoying idyllic sailing conditions and, most importantly, have climbed up the ranks against Cessna who, on the other hand, have been quite unlucky.'
At 09:00m GMT on Monday, Financial Crisis had descended to 39 degrees South: 'When I look at the wave crests lifting our stern before a surf in the chill of the freezing Southern Ocean night, gently but firmly, I know who’s the daddy down here,' admits Nannini. The latent force and destructive potential of the fleet’s environment is palpable: 'Our priority is to ensure we don’t break anything and safely steer our bow to Cape Town where, coincidentally, there’s steak, beer and a hot showers! Holding onto this third place would be an extremely welcome bonus.'
While Nannini and Peggs admire the view from the front of the fleet, in fifth place on Phesheya-Racing, Leggatt and Hutton-Squire are looking at tactics as the breeze begins to back and move to the west from north-west: 'This might sound good at first as it lifts us towards Cape Town,' says Nick Leggatt. 'But, inevitably, it will eventually back too far and we will be drawn towards the light winds in the centre of the high pressure.' The alternative is gybing back south away from the high’s centre and into stronger breeze. 'Initially, this might look bad, but as the wind continues to back towards the south-west, we’ll gradually be headed on the new gybe towards our home,' he adds.
Into this tactical mix, the GOR fleet has added a front west of the boats and the South African duo are looking over their shoulders: 'The weather behind us looks quite bleak, windy and rainy as we are pushed along by the north-west wind funnelling between the high-pressure and a cold front,' continues Leggatt as a gale warning is issued for their sea area of Tristan predicting 30-35 knots. 'It does sound a bit uncomfortable, but in fact the forecast has been pretty much the same for a few days and we have consistently remained in the band of 15 to 25 knot breeze,' he confirms. 'This morning we are starting to feel the first change as the wind begins to back a little westwards, so we are under no illusions that change will come, but long may this last!' At 09:00 GMT, Phesheya-Racing was averaging 10 knots with Budel and Van Rijsewijk on Sec. Hayai 44 miles astern.
Finish line video and interview of BSL:
Finish line video and interview of Campagne de France:
Global Ocean Race 2011-12 leg one (Palma - Cape Town) results: 1. BSL: Ross and Campbell Field (NZL). Tyker 40 Class40. 32d 17h 13m 25s. Finish: 05:13:25 GMT 28/10/11. Distance: 7,300 miles. Average speed 9.3kts 2. Campagne de France: Halvard Mabire/Miranda Merron (FRA/GBR). Pogo 40S² Class40. 33d 07h 43m 40s (BSL + 14h 30m 15s). Finish 19:43:40 GMT 28/10/11. Distance: 7,159 miles. Average speed 9.11kts.
Global Ocean Race points at the end of leg one: 1. BSL has scored a total of 35 points in GOR leg one (five points for crossing the Fastnet Marine Insurance Scoring Gate in second place + 30 points for first place in leg one). 2. Campagne de France has scored a total of 31 points in GOR leg one (six points for crossing the Fastnet Marine Insurance Scoring Gate in first place + 25 points for finishing leg one in second place).