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The McIntyre Ocean Globe Race beat, bash and bounce to Cape Town

by Ocean Globe Race 11 Oct 2023 08:12 PDT
McIntyre Ocean Globe Race 2023 – The proud South African yacht Sterna showing their support for their team taking on the French in the World Cup Rugby quarter-finals on Sunday. They're pushing the boat to get into Cape Town for the final on Oct 28th © OGR2023 / Sterna / All Spice Yachting

The long, choppy upwind beat to Cape Town is proving challenging for the crews of the McIntyre Ocean Globe. With the calm of the doldrums a distant memory, the relentless South Easterlies means the yachts are moving, but it's taking its toll on bodies and brains.

The crews are also under pressure to get into Cape Town to ensure adequate time for maintenance, provisioning, and recuperation before the start of the challenging Southern Ocean Leg to Auckland, starting November 5th. The OGR Notice of Race requires yachts to have a mandatory minimum four-day stopover in port, meaning they need to arrive by 14:00 local time on November 1st to ensure starting Leg 2 with the rest of the fleet.

This deadline is certainly playing on some minds with fluky, tricky winds about to become a trademark of the 'traditional' tradewinds.

Jean d'Arthuys, skipper onboard the Swan 53, Triana FR (66) admits that the conditions are more brutal than he expected.

"Everyone is getting tired going upwind now for ten days, it's very uncomfortable as you know. This leg is longer and harder than we thought. It's not good for morale." said Jean.

Meanwhile, the crew on Evrika FR (65) are clearly thinking about the physical ramifications of sailing at 25 degrees for days on end.

"We're going to end up with one leg longer than the other." joked the crew.

Living at an angle is also proving challenging for those onboard the Spanish entrant White Shadow ESP (17).

"Jumping waves and heeling for one week. Little has been written about the art of going to the toilet in these conditions without stuccoing the walls." reported Guillaume.

But it's not just the crew taking a beating. Maiden UK (03), who compared moving around the yacht like climbing Everest in Crocs, had some arduous nighttime maintenance to contend with. While putting reef three in the main they noticed the stitching on the seams had become undone.

"We had to remove the main at night, repair it and put it back on which was a really big job for everyone. There were a lot of bruises especially for me and Molly trying to get the cars off the tracks. But we're just thankful this didn't happen in the Southern Ocean." said skipper Heather.

Campbell Mackie, skipper of Australian entrant Outlaw AU (08) also reported damage onboard.

"There was a loud band like a rifle shot. The genoa halyard broke."

Outlaw has continued on the most Easterly route in the fleet. It's yet to be seen if the gamble has paid off as they'll have strong headwinds to contend when they finally turn more Southerly.

Godspeed USA (01) remains the only yacht not to have crossed the equator but are making impressive progress and now following Outlaw on an Easterly route.

"We haven't seen the sun in a couple of days. Last sight we got was three days ago. We're kind of guessing where we are in the world. We're beating into the wind but the boat is outstanding, she thrives in this weather." said skipper Taylor - who was also happy to report that they hadn't run into any ships despite the lack of sights! Listen here.

Meanwhile Explorer AU (28) who will struggle to get to Cape Town for the start of leg two has opted for the most Westerly route. Skipper Mark Sinclair has calculated they'll have to sail at 7 knots consistently to reach Cape Town by November 1st. But they're clearly also exploring other options.

"Staying well west. We'll either reap the benefit of the South Atlantic High or be very early for Mardi Gras in Rio." said Mark, AKA Captain Coconut.

There is 700 nm between Sterna SFA (42) the tailenders of the middle pack and former Whitbread winner L'Esprit d'équipe FR (85) who is leading the same pack. They continue to forge South but might well encounter lighter winds in the coming days if they remain on a similar heading.

But it would appear Marie Tabarly, skipper of French yacht Pen Duick VI (14) has more than just sailing on her mind.

"We absolutely do not miss news from the ground apart from the Rugby World Cup. On October 15th the France / South Africa match will take place. I think we will still be at sea but that doesn't matter. Come on Blues, let's stay strong. Solid on the supports." said Marie.

No doubt the fact France beat Italy (60 / 7) during the week might help compensate for the fact Italian yacht Translated 9 continues to outrun Pen Duick VI in IRC ranking!

So, it goes without saying the OGR team don't want to miss out on any of the action and are decamping to Cape Town! By the weekend the team, and a new baby rib, will be installed ready to welcome tired crews and equally tired yachts with a bottle of bubbly.

We are of course, still all on call, and available.

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