For the final 600 miles to the double-handed Global Ocean Race (GOR), the South African duo of Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire and Class40 Phesheya-Racing began sailing parallel to the coast of South Island, New Zealand, heading for the finish line in Wellington.
South-westerly breeze of between 25-30 knots pushed the fifth-placed GOR Class40 along the coast making the South African’s best speeds of the entire 7,000-mile voyage across the Indian Ocean.
'We’ve had some awesome sailing at last,' confirms Phillippa Hutton-Squire. 'Covering 274 miles in 24 hours at an average speed of 11.42 knots and in one three-hour period we averaged 13.1 knots on the GOR tracking system.' The four year-old, first generation Akilaria Class40 began performing like a new boat: 'Phesheya-Racing loved the conditions,' Hutton-Squire continues. 'A long and high swell with the wind lined up perfectly to the waves. We reefed the mainsail and hoisted the bluQube A6 and she took off like a rocket, often doing 17, 18 or 19 knots with ease.'
On Monday, as Phesheya-Racing drew level with the latitude of Cape Foulwind on the South Island’s west coast, conditions changed and some inexplicable damage was discovered, stalling the South Africans: 'The wind suddenly began to change, becoming shifty and gusty once again, so our speeds began to drop once more,' Nick Leggatt explains. 'Daylight also revealed that we had broken another batten during the night,' he reports. 'How that happened is a bit of a mystery as we didn't carry out any manoeuvres during the night.' The mainsail was dropped and the duo replaced the batten from the selection of spares lashed to the guardrails. 'Once that was done, we changed from the bluQube A6 to the slightly larger and lighter A4 spinnaker,' says Hutton-Squire.
As Phesheya-Racing closed in on the Karamea Bight, south of Cape Farewell, the breeze dropped further but remained in the south. 'We then shook out the reef in the mainsail and changed to our largest, A2, spinnaker,' says Leggatt. 'We now have our maximum sail area deployed, over 300 square metres, for the first time in many, many days.' Throughout Tuesday, Phesheya-Racing closed on the coast on starboard gybe maintaining a steady seven-knot average and by midnight GMT, Leggatt and Hutton-Squire were just five miles off Cape Farewell at the northern tip of South Island with the potential for a downwind run for the final 100 miles through Cook Strait to the finish line in Wellington and an ETA of Thursday morning (Friday evening GMT).
GOR leaderboard at 00:00 GMT 3-4 January:
1. Cessna Citation 30d 22h 20m 40s
2. BSL 32d 11h 38m 40s
3. Campagne de France 33d 10h 40m 15s
4. Financial Crisis 33d 20h 13m 45s
5. Phesheya-Racing DTF 116 8.8kts
GOR cumulative Leg 1 and Leg 2 points:
1. BSL: 64 (4 points at the Celox Sailing Scoring Gate + 25 points for second place in Leg 2)
2. Campagne de France: 56 points (5 points at the Celox Sailing Scoring Gate + 20 points for third place in Leg 2)
3. Cessna Citation: 54 (6 points at the Celox Sailing Scoring Gate + 30 points for Leg 2 win)
4. Financial Crisis: 42 (3 points at the Celox Sailing Scoring Gate + 15 points for fourth place in Leg 2)
5. Phesheya-Racing: 14 (2 points at the Celox Sailing Scoring Gate)
6. Sec. Hayai: 6 (RTD from Leg 2)