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McIntyre Ocean Globe Race - 2,000 miles to go and getting tougher

by Ocean Globe Race 30 Nov 2023 08:02 PST
Maiden working hard to make the mark! But aren't impressed with there not being an actual, well, mark! © OGR2023 / The Maiden Factor / Najiba Noori

Twenty five days out from Cape Town and one could almost describe it as 'too-perfect' sailing conditions for the McIntyre Ocean Globe fleet bound for Auckland and a Christmas stopover. But now the Indian Ocean is finally baring its teeth and demanding serious strategic moves from the 13 yachts in the OGR fleet.

The last few days have proved challenging thanks to a dangerously unpredictable storm, wind holes, strong headwinds, and a pesky little waypoint, sitting at 45 degreesS and 110 degreesE to be kept to starboard. This "ice mark" (keeping yachts north of the iceberg zone) certainly gave the yachts something to aim for. Sadly it would appear not all hit the target.

French sailing legend Pen Duick VI FR (14), skippered by Marie Tabarly, continues to lead the charge and is first on the leaderboard but lost ground blocked by a large high pressure. But shockingly, the 73-foot Bermudian ketch, who has been trading places with Translated 9 IT (09) for the coveted No. 1 spot in IRC ranking has slipped to third. Triana FR (66) a 53-foot Swan skippered by Jean d'Arthuys, is now 2nd in IRC. The crew continues to impress as they forge ahead against far bigger, more powerful yachts. Triana, the winners of Adventure Class in Leg One have just provided one of the biggest upsets of Leg 2 surprising many.

Maiden UK (03) just hours behind Leg 1 Line Honours winners Spirit of Helsinki FI (71), continues to sprint over the waves. Both crews are obviously keeping their steadiest hands on the wheel - the tracker displaying near-perfect straight course helming. Although the crew of Maiden were a little upset at the lack of visual guidance at the last of the three mandatory waypoints of Leg 2.

"We were extremely disappointed to not find a yellow buoy in the middle of the ocean as we passed the waypoint. Budget cuts I suppose." Maiden.

Unfortunately, it would appear the former Whitbread winner L'Esprit d'équipe FR (85) passed south of the waypoint. If this is the case a 72-hour time penalty will be applied to their finishing time. This will not be determined until a full investigation is carried out in Auckland when the charts of the Export 33 will be examined. The 24hr tracker plots four hourly waypoints and it is clear they missed the spot passing 3.7 miles south, but to be sure they did not dip north between the tracker plots, the log book and charts must be inspected.

The family and friends sailing on the French Swan 65 Evrika (07), were clearly relieved to have made the mark and content with their position in the fleet.

"That's it, the mark is behind us! We're really pleased, especially as we've got the positions of the others." Evrika

Both Outlaw AU (08) and Galiana WithSecure FI (06) changed course dramatically, tacking north just in time to pass the waypoint. The Finns are fewer hours behind Maiden on IRC and it's almost impossible to separate the middle bunch in terms of leaderboard placing - one wind shift and it's a spot in the rankings. Perfect couch sailing viewing.

"After an intense morning of sextant work with misty weather and veering wind, we had to bite the bullet and tack to starboard and head north for the waypoint." Galiana Withsecure

Outlaw might well have tacked in time for the waypoint but they have other things to worry about now.

"Gas supply running low. 50% into leg 2, 3 out of 5 bottles used up. Suspect under filled in Cape Town. Gas restrictions in place. The impact of low gas reserves have been to limit the use of the oven. So no hot drinks, no baking, no oven meals." Outlaw

Another former Whitbread entrant Neptune FR (56) continues to make good speed and are on course to pass the waypoint without issue. They too have food issues onboard.

"We were given a large batch of green bananas and told to leave them to ripen. Placed in the nets in the saloon, they took advantage of the Indian and its grey landscapes. After three weeks, still as hard and green as cucumbers, they remain unperturbed by the harshness of the ocean. We manage to live together as best we can, but it proves difficult on stormy days, when the bananas, so innocent until now, become dangerous projectiles and attack us slyly with every roll. Some people, fed up with this never-ending war, were able to send the enemy into the sea." Neptune.

White Shadow ESP (17) are facing high winds and a big sea state over the coming days. A far cry from the tweet they posted just a couple of days back - always be careful what you wish for!

"Fourth day without wind. Who said there were no doldrums in the Indian Ocean? Eating chocolate to forget we are last. Hoping for wind & catching up the fleet." - White Shadow

Explorer AU (28) and Sterna SA (42), were both forced to divert south to avoid an unpredictable and dangerous storm earlier in the week. OGR headquarters advised both teams to remain south of 39 degreesS and west of 41 degreesE until at least 2300 UTC on the 29th. The storm track is being monitored and is moving easterly as predicted and no longer poses a risk.

Both yachts are out of the rankings for Leg 2 after receiving outside assistance for maintenance work after race start on November 5th. This disqualifies under the Notice of Race rules. They'll continue to Auckland and resume racing in Leg 3. Unfortunately, they won't make it for Christmas, or New Year, with the latest estimates putting their arrival on January 10th, if they're lucky. Restart of leg 3 is January 14th. Explorer might make it in time for Easter!:)

Meanwhile, host port Auckland with the support of Tataki Auckland Unlimited (the region's economic and cultural agency), is getting ready to welcome the first of the OGR yachts, whoever that may be, as early as December 10th - well in time for the festive season. Once crossing the finish line, the yachts will pass the iconic Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, then dock right at Jellicoe Harbour at Wynyard Quarter, Wynyard Marina. The 13-strong OGR fleet will be on view until the start of Leg 3 on January 14th.

Auckland is steeped in Whitbread history, first serving as a stopover in 1977. Pen Duick VI, Translated 9 (formerly ADC Accutrac), Neptune, Maiden, Spirit of Helsinki (formerly Fazer Finland), Outlaw (formerly Equity & Law) and L'Esprit d'équipe - winner of the 1985 Whitbread will all return to Auckland again having previously experienced the city's renowned warm welcome in previous Whitbread races.

The much anticipated Auckland stopover will provide a very necessary respite for the crews who've just battled the Southern Ocean and are about to take on Cape Horn. No doubt there'll be plenty of former Whitbread sailors on the pontoons to provide some wise words of wisdom about the notorious Cape and the challenge they are about to take on in Leg 3.

The month-long stopover is anticipated to generate $2.1 million GDP for the Auckland economy.

Chris Simpson, Head of Major Events at Tataki Auckland Unlimited says the organisation has invested $175k on behalf of Auckland Council, to bring the event to Auckland.

"The Auckland stopover is the longest on the series' calendar and marks the halfway point of the global race. The stopover offers great opportunities for Auckland's marine partners to provide crucial repairs and maintenance of the boats before they take on the Southern Ocean again. Events of this nature continue to reinforce Auckland's international reputation as a world-class host city for events and especially sailing events, heroes our renowned marine sector and delivers significant benefits for Tamaki Makaurau Auckland. We welcome visitors and we are excited to showcase Auckland to the world." - Chris Simpson, TATAKI AUCKLAND UNLIMITED

Visitors and locals are invited to enjoy the Auckland race village at Jellicoe Wharf, which is free and open to the public from Thursday 14 December until Sunday 14 January where they can view the yachts up close and maybe even meet some of the crew.

One major reason for the city's passion for sailing and strong Whitbread connection is due to the much-loved New Zealander, Sir Peter Blake. He skippered Lion New Zealand to second place in the 1985 Whitbread. Four years later, he skippered Steinlager 2, the only yacht to ever win all six legs of the Whitbread. It is momentous that both Lion New Zealand and Steinlager 2 will berth alongside the OGR yachts in Wynyard Marina.

And finally, in exceptionally exciting news the Golden Globe Race picked up three awards at the British Yachting Awards 2023 hosted at the Royal Thames Yacht Club on Monday night. GGR and OGR Founder, Don McIntyre, accepted the prestigious award of 'Event of the Year' beating off stiff competition from the likes of the Ocean Race and The 50th Anniversary Rolex Fastnet. GGR winner Kirsten Neuschäfer won 'Sailor of the Year' and 'Outstanding Achievement of the Year'.

"It is quite an honour and truly humbling to receive this British Yachting Award and a real credit to our passionate management team, Les Sables d'Olonne in France for believing in us, the entrants for following their dreams and to our millions of fans and followers around the world. Personally it is so good to see sailors and non sailors having faith in what the GGR and OGR stands for, slowing down and following dreams. THANKS!!!" Don McIntyre, GGR & OGR Founder.

The OGR yachts will be in Wynyard Marina from mid-December and the OGR race office will be located in The Kiosk, Wynyard Marina from December 5th.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first Whitbread the OGR is hosting a Whitbread Reunion on January 11th, 6pm - 8pm, Wynyard Pavilion, Auckland. All veterans are invited!

For more information contact

oceangloberace.com

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