Global Ocean Race 2011-12 (GOR) fleet have completed the first and second legs of racing and are making preparations for the third leg.
The GOR Wellington stopover marks the halfway point for the fleet of Class40s in the 33,000 mile, double-handed circumnavigation. With 15,000 miles and a total of between 65-78 days of racing completed in the first two legs, the next 18 days in New Zealand is a vital repair and preparation period for the 6,200-mile third leg through the Pacific Ocean and around Cape Horn to Punta del Este, Uruguay.
Fortunately, the 7,500 miles sailed through the high-latitudes of the Indian Ocean, including a succession of frontal systems sweeping eastwards through the fleet delivering wind speeds up to 60 knots, have left all the boats structurally intact with very limited damage. Indeed, the majority of work being undertaken in Wellington is general maintenance. Three boats have pulled their rigs and the carbon masts of Cessna Citation, BSL and Phesheya-Racing are being checked by Duffy Yacht and Rigging at Chaffers Marina.
The South African team of Nick and Phillippa Hutton-Squire have moved Phesheya-Racing to Seaview Marina on the eastern shore of Wellington Harbour and the keel of their four year-old version one Akilaria Class40 has been removed by the racing specialist team from Hakes Marine to check the keel head, keel bolts and flange bolts – a very prudent move at the GOR’s halfway point.
Conrad Colman’s Akilaria RC2, Cessna Citation, will shortly motor mastless across the harbour from the GOR base in Queen’s Wharf to join Phesheya-Racing and Hakes Marine will fit extra longitudinal stringers in the forepeak as although Colman’s Class40 has shown no indication of structural failure after 65 days and half a planet of hard racing, the boat’s manufacturers, MC-TEC in Tunisia, has recognised potential structural weakness in the bow of RC2s.
Remaining in Queen’s Wharf, Marco Nannini and Hugo Ramon are working together on Financial Crisis with a complete engine overhaul and a new clutch plate; some electronic replacements undertaken by Auckland-based marine specialist, David Minors, and sail repairs. On the neighbouring pontoon, Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron’s Pogo 40S² Campagne de France is already in full racing trim with just running maintenance to complete.
Meanwhile, on Ross and Campbell Field’s Verdier-designed Tyker 40, BSL, the buckled stanchions and pulpit have been removed for repair, sails are being serviced and re-cut and the engine is being serviced with all belts replaced. As one of the very few Class40s with a shaft rather than a sail drive, Hakes Marine will shortly haul BSL and make adjustments to the stern gland.
Josh Hall, Race Director of the GOR, is continually impressed by the punishment that the boats and the teams can withstand: 'Without doubt, the Indian Ocean leg of the Global Ocean Race exerted incredible demands on both man and machine,' says Hall. 'As a round-the-world race organisation, we have always maintained that Class40s are robust, reliable boats that can withstand the demanding conditions in the high-latitudes,' he explains. 'In the hands of capable and skilled sailors, the yachts have proved yet again that they can be pushed at pace through some of the toughest waters on the planet. The condition of the GOR fleet here in Wellington is testimony to the skills of the designers and builders of this great class and to talent of our sailors.'
Meanwhile, in Cape Town, work is progressing well on the sixth GOR Class40, Sec. Hayai of the Dutch father-and-son duo, Nico and Frans Budel. On the first evening of racing in leg two, Sec. Hayai dismasted off the Cape of Good Hope and the Budels returned to Cape Town without assistance. Subsequently, a failed rigging component was found to be the cause of the dismasting. However, the Budels plan to rejoin the GOR in Punta del Este, Uruguay, and compete in legs four and five. A replacement carbon fibre mast from Southern Spars will be stepped in Cape Town on 23 January and, following sea trials, Sec. Hayai will sail from Cape Town to Punta del Este, timing the arrival to be ready to greet the five other GOR Class40s at the end of leg three. Global Ocean Race website