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McIntyre Ocean Globe Race - Heading Deep South, Beyond the Roaring 40's

by Ocean Globe Race 10 Nov 2023 15:29 PST 10 November 2023
Line honours winner of Leg 1, Spirit of Helsinki, loving life in the fast lane of the South Ocean - McIntyre Ocean Globe Race © OGR2023 / Spirit of Helsinki

Five days into Leg 2 of the McIntyre Ocean Globe and the fleet is experiencing classic Southern Ocean sailing, whales, albatross and settling in for the next month of adventure. With little over 200 miles separating the first 10 yachts and light winds ahead for the lead pack, it's compelling viewing.

Pen Duick VI, Spirit of Helsinki, Translated 9 and Maiden are ahead on the leaderboard, similar to the situation throughout much of Leg One, until the Finnish Spirit of Helsinki took the lead from Pen Duick after 36 days of racing. Will history repeat itself?

Translated 9 IT (09) first in IRC ranking for leg one are holding onto the title, for now. Both Galiana WithSecure FI (17) and Outlaw AU (08) took the most southerly route and benefited from the Agulhas current running up to three knots, but it's very early days and a long way to Auckland. The real challenges are yet to come.

The Southern African entrant Sterna SA (42) are now playing catch up after slipping lines two days after the fleet departed for Auckland on November 5th. They were forced to delay their start to complete repairs on their Swan 53 after discovering a crack behind their gooseneck fitting just hours before heading to the start line. Finally just before setting sail, skipper Rufus Brand and his crew were more than keen to get racing again.

"It's been frustrating, but we knew coming into Cape Town we might not make the start with the amount of work we'd to do. Yesterday was mentally very hard. We thought we might be able to leave, but in the end, things took longer and we could not rush.

"Now there's nothing holding us back from catching up with the fleet. We're all very eager to get out there. We're still in the race, this is a minor setback in time. In a race that can be 180 days in total, two days is nothing," says Rufus Brand, skipper of Sterna.

Finally, the US entrant Godspeed made it to Cape Town after 58 days of racing and 3 days after the start of Leg 2. It was an extremely emotional reunion for the families of the popular Skeleton Crew. They've become firm favourites in the OGR, not necessarily leader-board wise, but for their spirit, determination and humour. They sailed the entire leg from the UK with seven fenders hanging off the transom in their unique practical style. A nonprofit organisation, with a mission to provide adventure sailing therapy to military service members and veterans they've made a big impression on the rest of the fleet. So much so, the crews who departed before seeing Godspeed in, left 'Good Luck' cards and gifts (mainly beer) to wish them Godspeed on leg 2.

Skipper of the Swan 51, Taylor Grieger, was all smiles after seeing his young son Rory walk towards him on the pontoons of V&A Waterfront. Rory learned to walk while Taylor was a sea.

"I'm feeling tired, but happy to be here, making landfall is a special thing. It was about as tough as I thought it was going to be, which was really bad. I usually plan for the absolute worst and it was that." said a beaming Taylor.

Crew member Sam was also clearly delighted to have stepped onto dry land. As well as helming, changing sails and cooking, Sam is also the chief tattooist onboard.

"It was long, arduous, intimidating, terrifying, captivating, motivating, soul-crushing and an all-round beautiful experience. I think the tough one will be around Cape Horn, this one tested us, but we clearly took the easy route. Yeah it puts you to the test, puts you through the ringer but it was a good precursor of what is to come," said Sam in-between glugs of champagne.

The crew are taking some time to rest, but plan to get back to sea within a week.

Meanwhile, the crew of the Swan 57, Explorer, who arrived a day before the start of Leg 2 on November 5th have been carrying out extensive maintenance onboard.

They've worked on the standing rigging, fixings on the gooseneck, shortened the forestay and inner forestay, tuned the entire rig to improve upwind performance, and replaced much of the running rigging. They completed repairs to two sails, including coming up with a jury-rigged repair to the broken batten car system on the main that will stand up to the Southern Ocean and shortening and repairing the genoa. Electrical components damaged by water on the first leg have been replaced.The generator and bilge pumps have also all been serviced or replaced. They've also been shopping for the four winch handles, dropped over the side? And six buckets they lost during Leg 1.

Skipper of Explorer, Mark Sinclair, AKA Captain Coconut, revealed what everyone wants to know. Why were they soooooo slow?

"We took the classic route which is around the bottom of the South Atlantic high as opposed to beating down the Eastern side of the South Atlantic. On this occasion, it proved not to be the optimal choice compared to those who took the more direct route. In normal conditions it has the advantage that you are off the wind, so it's a longer route but it should be faster. We'd a longer route that wasn't faster. But who wants to beat 7000 miles to windward? It's much more fun going over to the other side and following the classic route," explained the Golden Globe Race skipper, who wasn't renowned for his speed in that race either!

Would you like to join EXPLORER to race around Cape Horn? Have a survival course and ocean sailing experience? A paying crew spot is now available for Leg 3 & 4 back to the UK.

The former Whitbread entrants Neptune are back racing after diverting to Port Elizabeth to investigate a possible problem with their steering raft and tiller. They contacted OGR race control on Wednesday to clarify the situation and it was established they did not require outside assistance for the maintenance they required. Port Elizabeth, a commercial port, restricts anchoring so the 60-foot aluminium sloop pulled alongside to carry out repairs. Nobody went ashore and it was confirmed that the communications bag seals were not compromised nor did they receive outside assistance. An assessment of the situation will be carried out by the OGR and a time penalty may be applied for entering Port, a stipulation of the NOR.

During Leg 1 Godspeed diverted to Cascais, Portugal, to complete repairs on a six-inch crack in their boom. They obtained outside assistance and thus, as stated in the Notice of Race, lost their ranking for Leg 1. This is not the case for Neptune who are now making good speed to join the rest of the fleet.

And for those at the head of the fleet it's all been about speed and wildlife.

"Three successive speed records today - 17.9knts (Seb), 18knts (Nolwen) and 19knts (Gaby). The caravan is on a roll," reported Triana FR (66) in one of their tweets. They impressed everyone in Leg One with their consistent high speed onboard the Swan 53, taking first in Adventure Class.

Meanwhile Maiden reported a "New Top Speed - KATE!!!! 20.6KTS!!!!!!!!"

OGR Founder Don would be very happy with that number of !!!!!!!! in that tweet!!!!!! Well done Maiden.

Leg one Line Honours winners Spirit of Helsinki are enjoying life at the top of the fleet once again. Jussi Paavoseppä skipper of the Swan 651 a former Whitbread entrant, has had some time to reflect on the start line while observing some classic Southern Ocean wildlife, which he reported on during his last SoundCloud call.

"We saw a humpback whale jump full body height just 100 meters from us and we went by one sleeping 20 meters from us, I think that it was a sperm whale. Crossing the start line felt super good, it was good to get back on the water. We had our G1 up and there was 15 knots of wind, it has a limit of 12 knots, so we decided to change to G2. So we had a G2 and a full main, we were too underpowered, but still had a good start. When there was a calm we changed back to G1 and after that, we've been flying," said Jussi Paavoseppa, skipper of Spirit Of Helsinki.

The crew of Evrika onboard the stunning 65 ft Swan have also been thinking back to race start and the phenomenal scenes in Table Bay when South African Naval Vessel SAS King Sekhukhune 1 and French Navy Frigate Floréal signaled the start of Leg 2.

"The start line was very exciting. We were pushed by Pen Duick VI and we were very close to the Frigate Floréal. I hope someone had a camera. Also, the views in the bay were incredible. And then yesterday we had a competition between the whales with who could do the best jump. It's all been amazing."

The first Southern Ocean Storm may be approaching the fleet in the next few days with the first yachts due into Auckland New Zealand from the second week in December.

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