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Ocean Globe Race - Countdown to Southern Ocean

by Ocean Globe Race 31 Oct 2023 03:36 PDT
South African Yacht Sterna/All Spice Yachting showing off how proud they are to be home! © OGR2023 / Rob Havill

After 7,000 miles and 46 days of intense racing, just 33 minutes separated Neptune FR (56) and Triana FR (66) as they crossed the finish line in Table Bay Harbour, Cape Town. The 1977 former Whitbread entrant, Neptune, took 7th in line honours and 11th in IRC ranking.

  • Nailbiting finish for French yachts Neptune FR (56) and Triana FR (66) after 46 days. White Shadow ESP (17) dramatic moonlit landing.
  • Galiana WithSecure FI (06) faced gusty 50 knots winds for docking.
  • Exhausted Evrika FR (07) after 50kt storm, crew arrive in stunning sunrise, two with broken ribs.
  • Ecstatic crew onboard South African Yacht Sterna SA (42) battle to get home with rig issues.
  • Maiden UK (03) hosts The Brave Girls' from Masicorp charity.
  • 72 hour penalty for Pen Duick VI.

Much respected helmsman, Erwan Gourdon, was at the big orange wheel when the 60-foot aluminum sloop crossed the line.

"It was funny, everyone was very relaxed, we thought the race was over as we could see the finish line. Then someone said, 'Look! There are some sails over there!' We spotted orange on the main sail and a black circle and we said, "Oh No! It looks like Triana and they look faster than us. Holy Crap! We went back to racing mode again, trimming the main, got the G3 back up and started racing again just for the last few minutes." Erwan Gourdon.

Earlier in the race the crew were forced to gather rainwater after issues with a filter in their desalinator, arriving with just enough water on board to get by. They also ran out of gas, resulting in them eating cold tinned food for the last few days.

"It was a very complicated leg. Sometimes it was good, but then sometimes we had very, very little wind. It was both exciting and tiring, but we're really happy to be here. Now we have a change of some of the crew, we'll use what we learned on leg one and organise things better for leg two." Tanneguy Raffray - Skipper, Neptune

Neptune crew member Bertrand Delhom, a Parkinson's sufferer is spreading inspiration to those affected by Parkinsons by sailing around the world. He admits it was challenging.

"We had to push ourselves to the limits. On arrival my wife had difficulty recognising me, I've lost a little weight and my features are hollow. But I hope people like me, who've recently been diagnosed, can have hope. We have this illness but we still have time, and we have to achieve, make our dreams come true and go for it," said an exhausted, but proud, Bertrand.

Helmed by skipper Jean d'Arthuys, the 53-foot Swan, Triana FR (66), crossed the line just 33 minutes after Neptune, taking 4th in IRC ranking, first in Adventure Class and 8th in line honours. They impressed many during the race with their speeds, keeping up with larger Flyer Class yachts.

"It's very emotional because for many it was the first big ocean race and we discovered the joys of racing and living together in a micro-society and developing incredibly strong links. It was a big dream for me to do this race. We had a fantastic leg one, we are very happy." Jean d'Arthuys - Skipper, Triana

The crew had an eventful race, hitting the headlines in the first week when crew member Stéphane Raguenes was rescued after a dramatic long-range helicopter mission and flown 225 miles to Madeira for medical attention. They also encountered severe problems with their generator only using solar panels for charging, limiting their supply of power. They required a tow into the V&A Waterfront marina to dock after they reported their engine had failed.

Spanish entrant White Shadow ESP (17), whose poetic tweets have won them many new supporters since race start, were all smiles and clearly delighted to be in Cape Town after 47 days of racing. The Swan 57, skippered by Jean-Christophe Petit, are a provisional second in Sayula Class, 8th in IRC ranking, and 9th in line honours.

"It was very long, so you accumulate emotions. You're seeing whales jumping and birds flying and it gives you a special view of life and you can think 'WOW', this is fantastic. And amazingly we had no breakages, no failures, no human failures, no technical failures. We are very, very happy," said Jean-Christophe.

Twenty-three-year-old Tom Dhyser admitted it was tough without any technology but he soon got used to it.

"A phone? What is a phone? After a week I forgot about my phone as there were so many amazing things to see, dolphins, whales and it was great," said Tom.

Galiana WithSecure FI (06), the much loved 53-year-old Swan 53 skippered by Tapio Lehtinen, made a dramatic entry to the V&A Waterfront marina after crossing the line after 48 days. The Finnish yacht took 6th in IRC ranking and 3rd in Adventure Class. The nighttime arrival, with 50-knot gusts, made for challenging docking, but nothing the former Whitbread skipper couldn't handle. Sailing with eight under thirty-year-olds on board the Finnish boat has the youngest crew in the fleet.

Speaking just after docking, Tapio was clearly emotional, stating it was most definitely salt and champagne in his eyes, and not a tear.

"It was a great last few days, finally with some winds, but we had a real tough beat in. We are delighted to be here," said Tapio, who was debating whether to go for fish or meat for dinner - meat and red won.

Despite claiming to have worked extremely hard on board, Galiana WithSecure First Mate Ville Norra still found the time to compose a song inspired by the fact they spent more than three weeks on port tack. The title of the song? You guessed it, "Port Tack". Ville, supported by a backing band and dancers from Galiana WithSecure will perform for one afternoon only at the OGR Press Conference on Thursday 2nd at the V&A Waterfront.

It was an arduous, painful and slow arrival for the French 65-foot Swan, Evrika FR (07). The final 72-hours of their 49-day race proved difficult with strong winds forcing them to hove-too just miles from the finish line. The exhausted crew, made up of family and close friends, arrived to a stunning sunrise over Table Mountain. They took 11th in line honours and 3rd in Sayula Class. Two crew members, Alexandre Dubois and Philippe Huon, were in considerable pain having suffered broken ribs after falling onto the chart table in high winds.

"The last 72 hours were very, very hard. For morale it was very difficult, we hoped to arrive yesterday and then the winds increased and increased and we had to heave-to and we said 'No, not tonight, tomorrow night, that was difficult.'" Dominique Dubois - Skipper, Evrika

At then finally, the South African yacht Sterna SA (42)/All Spice Yachting, skippered by Rufus Brand, crossed the line at 9:40 UTC, 30th October, after 49 days of sailing. Like Evrika, they had hoped to arrive Saturday, in time for the Rugby World Cup, but were pushed north by 45-knots, gusting 50 knots, south easterlies with five-metre seas.

The rough weather started causing issues a couple of days back on the 28th of October. At 00:55 MRCC called OGR control to report a PLB distress activation in the vicinity of Sterna. At the time the South African yacht was 90 miles west of Cape Town sailing in winds gusting 45-50kts and 4-5 metre seas. OGR declared a CODE RED and the crisis team were activated. A call was made to Rufus who confirmed all was well onboard and that a large wave hitting the boat from astern had caused a false activation of the crew's PLB.

The Swan 53 has suffered breakages during Leg 1 and skipper Rufus admitted they had a lot of work to do before the start of Leg 2, Cape Town to Auckland, just 6 days away.

"What a journey. It was a hard leg, unfortunately, we've broken quite a few things regarding the rig. But I'm so happy today as our team did incredibly well. The first leg was just about team building in the end. I couldn't be happier about how our team got through all the challenges. We limped in today. And of course we were gutted to have missed the rugby. For one moment I thought we were going to make it but then we blew out our A3 and we knew we weren't going to make it in. But we're here," said a very happy Rufus who was off to eat some ribs.

And while the later arrivals struggle to get ready for the Southern Ocean leg, those who arrived earlier in the week have been keeping busy prepping for Leg 2.

Maiden found the time to host 'The Brave Girls', part of the Masicorp charity. The girls, aged between 8-12 years old from the Masiphumelele Township, have suffered physical and mental trauma in their lives.

"It was such a wonderful day having the Brave Girls Art Club, a charity that we have supported through The Maiden Factor, down to visit Maiden. They touched our hearts the first time we visited them back in January in Masiphumelele Township in Fishhoek where they live, so getting them onto the boat was great fun! They had a chance to see what we do onboard a racing yacht, including learning how the winches work, practicing teamwork skills whilst lifting the sails and exploring below deck. The girls also wrote messages of hope in the OGR office, which we can add to our baton, sharing why they believe education for girls is so important! Meeting the children that we support firsthand is always an emotional, and extra special experience, but being able to show them life onboard Maiden was the cherry on top," said Maiden skipper Heather Thomas.

Meanwhile, Explorer AU (28) and Godspeed USA (01) continue to make their way slowly towards Cape Town. Bets are on whether they'll make it for race start on Leg 2? Anyone like a little wager?

Pen Duick VI has been given a 72 hour time penalty by the OGR for a breach of rules in the Notice of Race associated with Broken Seals of the comms bag, which holds all crew phones and is sealed a few hours before the start. On completing the leg to Cape Town the seals are removed so crew can access personal phones. The findings are included in a report below.

Details of Pen Duick VI Time Penalty

Investigation Report: PEN DUICK VI broken seal on crew comms bag and evidence of Marie Tabarly's WhatsApp account active after the start Sept 10 2023, UK.

Checking seals on Pen Duick VI Crew comms bag
20 October 2023 approx 20.00 local time Georgie Vintner, Don McIntyre and Marco Ausderau boarded Pen Duick VI as soon as they arrived. Skipper and all crew signed the NOR compliance declaration.

On inspection of the comms bag presented by Marie Tabarly, the OGR security seal holding approx. nine personal crew phones, sealed a few hours before the start in Southampton, was observed to be broken allowing free access to all phones. Photos were taken of the broken seal. The integrity of the seal is the responsibility of the entrant. The seals are quite strong and would not normally break without a reasonable force. A crew member suggested it may have broken while rummaging through the locker where it was stored while looking for food, also stored in the same locker. A comment was made that the crew member did not realise, or possibly forgot about the seal. The crew member was clearly upset.

Marie was present and saw the seal was broken.

The next day 23 October a recorded interview was held with Marie Tabarly to investigate the evidence suggesting her WhatsApp account was active after the start including on the 11 September a day after the start. A follow up interview was held on the 25 of October to clarify contradictory statements and information.

Findings of the investigation
The seal on the comms bag onboard Pen Duick VI was found to be broken by the OGR inspection team. Pen Duick VI did not report the seal broken in the first instance. It is likely that the phones inside were not accessed, but this cannot be proven conclusively.

Evidence shows that Marie's Whatsapp account was confirmed active after the start of the OGR when approx. 5 miles offshore UK and most likely in range of phone signal. Marie was not forthcoming with accurate and timely information in regard to OGR questioning. In fact, contradictory statements and information was provided to key enquiries on two occasions. When OGR asked for confirmation of recorded answers, from a meeting 24hrs previous, Marie replied... "I do not know what I said and so what!"

Summary

    1. OGR cannot prove conclusively the cause of the Active WhatsApp account notice, as two phones are involved and one was onshore. It is possible the phone ashore could have been used, which is not a breach of the NOR. On this issue no action is taken.

    2. The OGR security seal on the comms bag was broken. It cannot be proven if it was an accident or with intent. It may be as a result of the entrant not having an onboard management plan to protect the comms bag.

    3. It is the responsibility of the entrant to maintain the integrity of the seal. Not reporting the broken seal is the fault of the entrant. Other than the regret of the crew member responsible for regularly moving the bag to access food in the same locker, not being aware of the seal and its importance, there are no mitigating circumstances.

    4. Under the NOR 3.1.7.C... Banned Equipment, a broken seal of the comms bag imposes a 72-hr time penalty. The seal of this comms bag was broken.

Penalty is applicable.

After consideration of the facts, PEN DUICK VI is awarded a 72-hour time penalty applicable on Leg one of the OGR.

For more information, visit oceangloberace.com.

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