Global Ocean Race 2011-12 (GOR) leg one started on Sunday 25 September from Palma and concludes in Cape Town.
At 13:45:10 GMT this afternoon, the South African, double-handed Class40 team of Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire crossed the finish line in Cape Town on Phesheya-Racing taking fifth place in the Class40 fleet after 42 days 45 minutes and 10 seconds of racing.
Stalled frustratingly by light airs on Sunday morning within sight of Cape Town’s Table Top Mountain, Leggatt and Hutton-Squire had to wait until shortly after midday for some breeze to arrive: 'Seeing the mountain this morning through the fog was really something,' said 28 year-old Phillippa Hutton-Squire as they dropped the mainsail and motored through Granger Bay and into the V&A Waterfront Marina having crossed the finish line. The race through the Mediterranean and Atlantic has been a very demanding voyage for the two highly-experienced sailors. 'We’ve had lots of good times and lots of bad times and we’re very happy to be home,' she adds.
Nick Leggatt aged 44 and Phillippa Hutton-Squire have been preparing for the nine-month GOR circumnavigation for over two years, fine tuning their four year-old Akilaria Class40 and hunting for sponsorship with the aim of being the first double-handed South African team to complete a round-the-world race. With 10,000 miles already logged sailing together, the duo were primed for a fast leg to Cape Town. 'We feel pretty frustrated,' admits Leggatt. 'We lost out really badly early on when there really weren’t any Trade Winds after the Canary Islands.' Phesheya-Racing fell into a wind vacuum close inshore off the coast of Morocco shortly after leaving the Mediterranean and this was a fundamental part of their race. 'We made what initially looked like a small mistake, falling into a massive patch of no wind and we were stuck there for four days,' he continues. 'By the time we got out of it, the lead boats were four hundred miles away.'
This early setback clearly effected morale on board: 'The Canary Islands were looking very good for a stopping point at that stage!' laughs Hutton-Squire. With a significant deficit developing between Phesheya-Racing and the front of the GOR fleet, the South Africans had to plan immaculately. 'We went as far west as we could through the Doldrums and tried to make up as much ground as possible,' she continues. Leggatt takes up the story: 'From the Doldrums onwards, the weather was still pretty frustrating and our option to go far to the south is always the route I’ll take unless there’s a really good reason not to,' he explains. 'Although we sailed the longest amount of miles, I think we were probably fastest from the Equator to the south,' adds Leggatt. 'The boat is fast and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be doing well.'
The South Africans know their boat better than any of the other teams, but the pressure of sailing hard and pushing relentlessly to regain ground came at a price: 'I don’t think I’ve done a passage that has ended up with such a big job list,' confirms Nick Leggatt. 'We left at the start of leg one in Palma feeling very confident, but we had a catalogue of breakages and even on the last night we were still breaking things. We’ve got the biggest jobs list that I’ve ever written,' he adds and the Cape Town stopover won’t allow too many celebrations before the start of Leg 2 from Cape Town to Wellington, New Zealand on Sunday 27 November. 'We’ve got sheets and sheets of A4 with details of the work we have to do during the stopover and it’s going to be tight timing to get the boat ready,' says Hutton-Squire. 'We’ve got a lot of work to do with a very small budget and although we’ve got a lot of friends who can help us, it’s still expensive.'
As the South African duo celebrate their arrival with friends at the Ferryman’s Tavern in the V&A Waterfront Marina, Nico Budel and Ruud van Rijsewijk are making 8 knots on Sec. Hayai with just 77 miles of leg one remaining. Global Ocean Race 2011-12 leg one results:
1. BSL: Ross and Campbell Field (NZL). Tyker 40 Class40. Launched 2008. 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. Launched 2011. 33d 07h 43m 40s (BSL + 14h 30m 15s). Finish 19:43:40 GMT 28/10/11. Distance: 7,159 miles. Average speed 9.11kts
3. Financial Crisis: Marco Nannini/Paul Peggs (ITA/GBR). First Generation Akilaria Class40. Launched 2008. 40d 20h 37m 20s (BSL + 8d 03h 23m 55s). Finish 08:37:20 GMT 05/11/2011. Distance: 7,876 miles. Average speed 8.03 kts
4. Cessna Citation: Conrad Colman and Hugo Ramon (NZL/SPA). Akilaria RC2 Class40. Launched 2011. 40d 23h 26m 15s (BSL + 8d 06h 12m 50s). Finish 11:26:15 GMT 05/11/2011. Distance 8,191 miles. Average speed 8.33 kts
5. Phesheya-Racing: Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire (RSA/RSA). First generation Akilaria Class40. Launched 2007. 42d 0h 45m 10s. Finish 13:45:10 GMT. Global Ocean Race points at the end of leg one:
1. BSL has scored a total of 35 points in GOR leg one (5 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 (6 points for crossing the Fastnet Marine Insurance Scoring Gate in first place + 25 points for finishing leg one in second place)
3. Financial Crisis has scored a total of 23 points in GOR leg one (3 points for crossing the Fastnet Marine Insurance Scoring Gate in fourth place + 20 points for finishing leg one in third place)
4. Cessna Citation has scored a total of 19 points in GOR leg one (4 points for crossing the Fastnet Marine Insurance Scoring Gate in third place + 15 points for finishing leg one in fourth place)
5. Phesheya-Racing has scored a total of 12 points in GOR leg one (2 points for crossing the Fastnet Marine Insurance Gate in fifth place + 10 points for finishing leg one in fifth place) Global Ocean Race website