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Classic Racing and Headwinds kick off McIntyre Ocean Globe - Day 6

by Ocean Globe Race 15 Sep 08:56 PDT 15 September 2023
Ocean Globe Race - Nico Malingri, first mate on Translated 9 and GGR sailor Simon Curwen keeping a close eye on the competition © Translated 9 / OGR

The headlines:

  • Leading pack, Pen Duick VI FR (14), Maiden UK (03), Translated 9 IT (09) and Spirit of Helsinki FI (71) battle to dominate. Lead changes daily.
  • Fleet split into three groups - fluky winds proved challenging for Godspeed USA (01), Galiana WithSecure FI (06) and Sterna SA (42) bringing up the rear.

Ocean racing, let alone racing around the world, doesn't get better than this! The honeymoon champagne sailing is over and big winds are on the way. After a speculator send-off from Southampton on Sunday, the 14 yachts taking part in the McIntyre Ocean Globe passed the Needles to port and set sail for Cape Town. The fruits of years of preparation and work to relive the 50th anniversary of the Whitbread materialised. The race is on!

Finally, the crews could sail beside each other and gauge their relative speeds. Then the first 24hrs became complicated with fog, ships, currents and fickle winds! The fleet split in two, those heading west and the others south. West won out and the others lost valuable time hooked in counter currents and were the last to feel a wind shift to the west then north as they were forced to tack away from France.

Now six days into the OGR the battle to dominate could not be more intense. The leading pack, all former Whitbread boats, including Pen Duick VI FR (14), Maiden UK (03), Translated 9 IT (09) and Spirit of Helsinki FI (71) roared past Cape Finisterre, benefiting from 15-20 knot winds astern and reaching double digit speeds. With Pen Duick VI and Translated 9 trading places back and forth, Maiden, the lighter yacht benefiting from the lighter winds earlier in the week constantly on their shoulders.

Today they are set to push past expected strong headwinds that will slow the middle pack and cause challenges for the tail enders. With IRC rating in place, it's making the race even more interesting!

Let's look at some tweets from the boats...

Sep 13, 2023, 11:34 PM
Team 09: #Translated 9 (IT) - SWAN 65 - Flyer
Dog fight off Finisterre. 3 days in, we're sailing in close combat with Pen Duick, Maiden and Spirit of Helsinki. Let the battle continue

Mid-week closer to the Spanish coast, the middle pack Neptune FR (56) and Outlaw AU (08), are utilised the wind hooking around the NW of Spain. L'Esprit d'équipe FR (85), Triana FR (66), and Explorer AU (28) remain mid fleet. Triana reported a broken steering cable (Sept 12th) which they fixed within four hours under emergency steering using dyneema rope and resumed sailing without further incident.

The tailenders bringing up the rear, include Evrika FR (07), White Shadow SP (17), Sterna SA (42), Galiana WithSecure FI (06) and Godspeed USA (01) all struggling in light winds. Sterna were required to do a quick fix of their baby stay which was parting 24 hours after the start, but continued sailing unhindered.

Today conditions are about to change. A fast-approaching low from the North West promises strong headwinds for some! By Friday afternoon, if the lead pack continues at their present speeds, they should be mid-way down the coast of Portugal and avoid the worst of it in reaching, pulling away rapidly from the rest of the fleet. The middle fleet will harden up, beating into 15-20kts for about 18 hours and then slip through.

For the tail enders, which now includes Explorer having fallen into a hole overnight, they can expect a tough beat into the wind and the first real test of the race for a couple days maybe? Predicted 20-30knts, gusting higher with seas building to 3-4 meters pushed across by the 40-gusting 60kt Northerlies and 7-8mtr seas on the other side of the low.

All of a sudden, the McIntyre OGR is getting serious as the challenge increases and there is still 26,000 miles to go...

The OGR, a retro race in the spirit of the 1973 Whitbread, means no computers, no GPS, sextants and paper charts being used to guide the sailors around the globe. This also means limited communication.

Entrants may transmit three pictures and three minutes of video each week. Translated 9, Triana and Pen Duick VI have restricted "Starlink" video transmission capability. Most entrants carry an Iridium for pictures and while it's possible to send video, it's not practical as the files are too big. Photo capability is considered a safety aid for medical emergencies, while pictures for media is allowed.

Up to four tweets a day can be sent and will provide the majority of contact for the next 40-plus days until Cape Town and give a feel for what life is like onboard.

Initial thoughts when this Tweet was sent from Godspeed was that someone needed a little more practice with SMS.

Sep 13, 2023, 3:36 PM
Team 01: #Godspeed (US) - SWAN 51 - Adventure
iluwamhasfa amajaawt (can anyone de-code?)

Not so! Turns out the coded message from Godspeed, sailed by military veterans, was a coded message from Dane to his wife and children. A message he'd previously written on a card given to his wife 20 years previously on deployment!!

And love is in the air on the South African boat, Sterna, too.

9/14/2023 16:43:00
Team 42: #STERNA OF ALLSPICE YACHTING (SA) - SWAN 53 - Adventure
happy birthday thomas! can't wait to marry you. love b

Let's hope the invites are in the post!

Spanish entrants White Shadow, after some sail issues, are clearly having a party.

9/14/2023 17:51:00
Team 01: #WhiteShadow (ES) - SWAN 57 - Sayula
Hola corazones! tras una noche movidita hemos tenido un dia estupendo. Ducha, tapa murciana, solete, 8knts y radio3. Avanzando!

9/14/2023 20:46:00
OUTLAW: BALTIC 55 - Adventure
"Blew a spinnaker out during the night, repair under way. Spoke with Capt Coconut. Flirted with a TSS, a larger tops sailing day."

Things got serious onboard Italian entrant Translated 9 with a near coffee disaster.

9/14/2023 20:34:00
Team 09: #Translated 9
"All good here. fridge broke, but we manage to repair it. moka coffee machine burned. all italians in crisis, until spare part was found

Moral is high onboard French entrant Neptune despite the lack of wind.

9/13/2023 20:28:00
Team 56: #Neptune (FR) - 60FT ALUMINIUM SLOOP - Flyer
Parkiss va bien-RAS-baleines vues-on tricotte dans la petole-concentration max-estime recalee par VHF-moral top-BLU entre francais le soir

Each yacht will also have a 5-10-minute satellite call each week, that will be broadcast on the OGR website, Soundcloud and Youtube.

It was during this call that Rinze Vallinga, first mate on Outlaw, revealed some of the team's sail's issues, including a wrapped spinnaker and torn genoa.

The competition for leaderboard position, IRC rating position and class position (Flyer, Adventure and Sayula) is on and there is another just as fierce competition afoot. With five French yachts racing, Gallic pride is at stake, each coveting the French title. The Finnish are battling it out between Galian WithSecure and Spirit of Helsinki, while the two Australian entrants, Explorer and Outlaw, both hailing from Adelaide are scrambling for bragging rights.

It's only a matter of time before the Spanish, British, American and South African form their own independent alliance.

By now watch systems will be running smoothly, seasickness will have abated and the reality of life at sea will start to sink in. Before departure, some of the crews shared the secrets of what they thought they'd miss most at sea. They all mentioned family and friends, followed quickly by wine and a stable bed.

Baptiste of Translated 9 revealed the fact he's missing a daily shower. Ezgim, Translated 9, will miss Instagram. India from Outlaw, misses going for a run, while for Blaise from L'Esprit d'Equipe it's Nutella and for Terry, first mate on Explorer, it's his wife of course!

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