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Pressure on to reach Cape Town for Leg 2 of McIntyre Ocean Globe Race

by Ocean Globe Race 5 Oct 2023 13:45 PDT
2023 McIntyre Ocean Globe Race - Translated 9 welcome King Neptune onboard for their ‘Crossing the Equator' ceremony. All smiles from co-skipper Marco Trombetti (far left) before the dreaded green monster returned © Translated 9 / OGR 2023

With seven yachts across the equator and making steady progress towards Cape Town, it's the tailenders that's cause for nail-biting at the McIntyre Ocean Globe Race head office.

Godspeed USA (01) and Explorer AU (08) are under increasing pressure to reach Cape Town for the start of Leg 2, Cape Town to Auckland, on November 5th.

The OGR Notice of Race requires yachts to have a mandatory minimum four-day stopover in port meaning they need to arrive into Cape Town by 14:00 local time on November 1st to ensure starting Leg 2 with the rest of the fleet. This now seems unlikely.

Skipper of Explorer, Mark Sinclair, AKA Captain Coconut latest predicted arrival date is - November 2nd!

"Our strategy at the moment is to forget trimming the sails, just point the boat 195 degrees magnetic, see where the sails go and trim them then. ETA Cape Town based on the amount of food still in the freezer, approx. Christmas." said Mark in frustration with the lack of wind.

They certainly don't seem concerned and are continuing to enjoy their Atlantic cruise.

Skeleton Crew onboard Godspeed, who were forced to stop for three days in Cascais to repair a six-inch crack in their boom, are still enduring the doldrums but continue to gain on the fleet. Now just 400nm behind Explorer and 500nm from Evrika they have caught up 350 miles in the past 10 days and might just catch up with the tailenders. They're certainly determined.

"We feel like we're getting into the groove with the boat. We broke out the tattoo gun to get some tattoos at sea. We did the classic swallow you get at 5000 nm but put a little Skeleton Crew spin on it. And we're making a comeback - the greatest sailing comeback of our generation." reported Skeleton Crew.

The middle pack including Sterna SA (42), White Shadow ESP (17), Galiana WithSecure FI (06) might have thought they'd escaped the clutches of the doldrums, but still have some fluky winds to contend with.

"Good wind and clear skies through the night, praying to the wind Gods for more Easterlies to ease the relentless beating to windward." tweeted Sterna.

Meanwhile, Outlaw continues to proceed to the East, maybe too far east, a bold move, raising a few eyebrows. But the crew are confident it'll pay off, getting them in with time to spare according to their latest tweet.

"A slow and steady day sailing as close to the rumb as possible. The nav team predicting a 26 or 27 Oct arrival day in Cape Town." tweeted Outlaw.

Skipper of Evrika, Dominique Dubois, has also opted for an Easterly route. Earlier in the week he discovered they'd lost a large reaching headsail washed overboard. Under the OGR Notice of Race, this loss may incur a 24-hour penalty.

"It's not good news for us because it was a good sail. The bag was probably not secured properly and at the time we had 20-25knt winds and a lot of water on the deck. But apart from that everyone is happy on board. That is because we sail with family and good friends." said Dominique.

The skipper of Spanish entrant White Shadow, Jean-Christophe Petit explains again the importance of the crew bonding. A Swan 57, she's just 165nm ahead of the other Swan 57 in the fleet, Explorer. Jean-Christophe explained how this adventure is awakening new emotions in his crew.

"One of the crew members is missing their siblings and having feelings about arriving in Cape Town and discovering something might have happened. This has created a little bit of anxiety. But this is the game. Other crew members come and hug them and say it's ok, let's move on. This is part of the adventure. You're exploring uncharted maps of your own mind and emotions, which is really interesting." says Jean-Christophe. "Life at 20 degrees inclination has started and will last 10 days. Move, cook, pee, sleep, sit, all demand extra effort, but keeps us with a smile!:-)"

But above all else, they're just relieved to be moving!

Pen Duick VI FR (14) is struggling to grab first place in IRC from Translated 9 IT (09), but is leading the fleet. Spirit of Helsinki FI (71), Translated 9 IT (09) and Maiden UK (03) have well and truly picked up the South Easterlies and are making good progress to Cape Town. The three French yachts, L'Esprit d'Équipe FR (85), Triana FR (66) and Neptune FR (56) have also crossed the equator with their bows now set on catching the lead pack, determined to close the gap.

The crew of Neptune - Gagner Avec Parkinson, were clearly relieved with the recent onset of heavy rain squalls. A membrane in their desalinator failed earlier in the week, producing salty water and their stocks were running precariously low. But during a heavy downpour, they caught 300 liters of fresh rainwater with each crew member now getting 1.5 liters per day. Their total stock is roughly 350 liters with just over three weeks to go. Their food is pre-cooked meaning they don't need water for cooking, but still, let's hope it rains again - at least once!!

Neptune crew member Bertrand Delhom continues to prove inspirational around the world with the mission to prove their motto "He who dares will live." Despite suffering from Parkinson, he is determined to show the world what is possible - but it's a mammoth challenge.

"My Parkinson's symptoms subsided as we glided under a spinnaker between the Canaries and Cape Verde. Stomach cramps, fatigue, burns. All gone! The boat was going well, pushed by a steady swell, and I was often at the helm, day and night, as the miles flew by towards the south.

I said to myself, we're going to try an experiment, I didn't take any dopamine for 72 hours and everything was fine, but Parkis (Parkinson) is a trickster. He's there and in the end, he caught up with me. So, I had to go back on my dopamine treatment (especially the fast-acting stuff to stop this descent into hell). It was a disappointment, but I didn't share it with the team. Should I have? I don't know. I obviously feel this experience was a failure, but was it really? However, I know full well that these failures give me strength, the very strength that has led me to this challenge of doing this round-the-world race."

Those on board Triana FR (66) are another crew who are happy to have finally caught the wind and are moving, but not enjoying the windward beat.

"The long and hard slog going upwind continues and looks like it will be the case still for days (not weeks hopefully!). Everything is harder when at a continuous 20-degree angle even the simplest things like brushing teeth! The Triana caravan seems to enjoy the conditions though... more than the crew at least! Tweeted Triana.

While L'Esprit d'Équipe, former Whitbread winners, are just happy to be moving, despite living at an angle.

"Upwind in 15-knot trade winds. Third day at this speed, getting used to life with a 20-degrees heel. Glad the boat's making good progress!" Tweeted L'Esprit d'Équipe.

Maiden continues to challenge the leading pack despite completing running repairs on route.

"A seam on the main became unstitched during the night. We removed the sail and hoisted the tri sail to effect repairs. The Main now ready to re-hoist." tweeted Maiden.

Skipper of the Swan 651 Spirit of Helsinki Jussi Paavospeeä, currently first in Sayula class, 2nd in line honours behind Pen Duick VI and third in IRC admits that he's getting nervous and finds getting weather information difficult.

"The weather is a major problem at the moment. I really feel we need to find a way to get the pressure charts in before we head South. If we do not get any, we really need to think if we go South or not!"

And spare a thought for co-skipper Marco Trombetti on Translated 9, currently first in IRC rating. They are pushing hard to windward at 25 degrees, hanging on for meals with water over the deck, in 3-4mtr seas. He is sea sick once again. But he is happy! He proves you might well be leading the pack, but that doesn't exempt you from seasickness, even after nearly four weeks at sea. But according to the Italian Marco, it's all part of the adventure! He is happy he is coping and knows there are still another couple weeks of these conditions.

Such is the life and stories of an OGR sailor...

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