5 January 2012
The South African team take fifth place in GOR Leg 2
At 15:14:30 GMT (04:14:30 local) on Wednesday 4 January, the South African double-handed team of Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire took fifth place in Leg 2 of the Global Ocean Race with Class40 Phesheya-Racing, completing the 7,000 mile course from Cape Town to Wellington, New Zealand, in 36 days 05 hours 14 minutes and 30 seconds.
On New Year’s Day, the South African duo of Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire and Class40 Phesheya-Racing began sailing parallel to the coast of South Island, New Zealand, for the final 600 miles to the double-handed Global Ocean Race (GOR) Leg 2 finish line in Wellington. South-westerly breeze of between 25-30 knots pushed the fifth-placed GOR Class40 along the coast making the South African’s best speeds of the entire 7,000-mile voyage across the Indian Ocean with a 24-hour run of 273 miles. At 01:00 GMT on Wednesday morning, Leggatt and Hutton-Squire rounded Cape Farewell for a fast run through Cook Strait, putting in their final gybe of the voyage off d’Urville Island at 08:00 GMT and rounding the final headland of the voyage at Cape Terawhiti on the North Island coast four hours later.
In the moonless and cloudless pre-dawn, Phesheya-Racing ‘turned left’ out of Cook Strait between the Barrett Reef buoy and Pencarrow Head for a final, bone-shaking beat in 45 knots under triple-reefed main and staysail. Leaving the exposed and jagged rocks of Barrett Reef in a mass white water to port, Leggatt and Hutton-Squire crossed the finish line off Worser Bay and continued under sail, hardening up around Point Halswell and Point Jerningham before finding some shelter off the city of Wellington. “We thought Leg 2 was really, really tough,” confirmed 44 year-old Nick Leggatt as the South African sailors moored alongside the GOR race pontoons. “But when the handle on the kettle broke it was even tougher!” adds his 28 year-old co-skipper, Phillippa Hutton-Squire. “That happened this morning and since then, things have gone downhill!” continues Leggatt with a broad smile. “We couldn’t have tea with fruitcake and it’s all been a disaster,” Hutton-Squire explains, laughing. The lack of refreshment in the final hours of Leg 2 overshadowed the broach that Phesheya-Racing underwent shortly before entering Wellington Harbour: an event that ripped the radar from the Class40’s carbon fibre mast, but barely merits comment following 36 days of hardship and storms in the Roaring Forties.
The South Africans navigated a successful course across the Indian Ocean’s high latitudes taking a similar, northerly option as Marco Nannini and Hugo Ramon on Financial Crisis: “Financial Crisis definitely had it worse than us,” Leggatt believes. “When we realised we weren’t keeping up with the cold fronts, we figured the next best option was to find the route with the least hard work.” As Phesheya-Racing left the restrictions of the GOR’s western Indian Ocean Ice Limit at 42S after nine days of racing, Leggatt and Hutton-Squire dropped down to 44S having crossed the Celox Sailing Scoring Gate north of Kerguelen as a series of fronts swept through the fleet. Skating along the Australian Ice Limit at 45S, the duo maintained this latitude until ascending towards New Zealand through the Tasman Sea. “The strongest wind we had the whole time was 47 knots, which compared to what Marco and Hugo had was nothing,” confirms Leggatt. “It was never that extreme, but just started getting slightly monotonous and wet and cold.”
Jan 29 2012
The GOR Class40s are off into the Southern Ocean again
At 15:00 local time (02:00 GMT) on Sunday, the double-handed Global Ocean Race (GOR) fleet started Leg 3 from Wellington, New Zealand, to Punta del Este, Uruguay, with a 6,200-mile course through the Pacific Ocean, around Cape Horn and through the South Atlantic ahead of the five Class40s.
Shortly after 13:00 local time, the Class40s motored out of Queens Wharf – the fleet’s base for almost one month – and into Lambton Harbour followed by a spectator armada of motorboats, sailing yachts and dinghies. While the fleet milled in Lambton Harbour around the start line under the watchful eyes of the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club team on the Committee boat, the five teams self-sealed their engines with instructions to email a time-stamped image of the yellow, plastic tie-wrap in place to Co-Race Director, Sylvie Viant within five hours of the start gun.
In around ten knots of breeze, Conrad Colman and Adrian Kuttel were first across the line with Cessna Citation, followed by the South African duo of Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire with Phesheya-Racing. Colman and Kuttel led the fleet east across the mouth of Evans Bay as the breeze built fractionally and around Point Halswell, hoisting spinnakers and leaving Ward Island and Hope Shoal to port. For a brief period the breeze died completely before switching through 180 degrees, forcing a beat and short tacking through the gap between the eastern shoreline of Wellington Harbour and the jagged, exposed rocks of Barrett Reef before rounding Pencarrow Head and exiting the 2km-wide harbour entrance.
Cessna Citation led the fleet out into Cook Strait with Ross and Campbell Field on Buckley Systems in hot pursuit and as the Class40s dropped south into the Pacific, the wind built quickly to 20 knots with a long rolling swell for the first night at sea, forcing the teams to reef as the sun began to dip (see aerial images from Cook Strait here). In the 06:00 GMT position poll, the Fields on Buckley Systems were furthest east in the fleet, closest to the Great Circle route and led the fleet with Cessna Citation furthest west dropping back to fourth and Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron moving up to second on Campagne de France. The South Africans on Phesheya-Racing held third place with Marco Nannini and Hugo Ramon in fifth with Financial Crisis with just five miles separating the Class40s.
The GOR’s Race Ambassador, Dee Caffari, explains what is ahead for the teams over the next month: “This is the big one, but it is also rewarded with the infamous landmark of Cape Horn,” she explains. “The main difference with this ocean leg is that there are very few options along the way,” Caffari continues. “The previous leg had the teams cross the Indian Ocean which is littered with islands along the way which can give options. Now, they will have none,” she adds. “Once they leave the relative safety of the Cook Strait, they enter the Pacific with nothing between them and Cape Horn.”
Compared with the Indian Ocean, the Pacific is potentially a smoother ride for the five Class40s: “It is a long way, but the good news is the weather can be more enjoyable,” says Dee, who has raced around the world through the Southern Ocean four times; single-handed, double-handed and fully-crewed. “The waves will seem slightly longer and wider spaced allowing the boats to have more comfortable surfing conditions,” Caffari predicts. “The bad weather doesn’t seem as frequent as it is in the Indian Ocean, but it is almost guaranteed that there will be a big blow before you leave the deep South and head back into the relative safety of the Atlantic Ocean,” she warns. “It is almost as if the Southern Ocean wants to say goodbye and leave you with a lasting reminder of how hostile it can be. The sailors will finish this leg exhausted, but also exhilarated and possibly even a little bit sad, as saying goodbye to the South is difficult as it is such a magical place to experience.”
GOR Leg 3 positions at 06:00 GMT 29/01/12
1. Buckley Systems DTF 6,040nm 7.4kts
2. Campagne de France DTL 2.6nm 8.1kts
3. Phesheya-Racing DTL 3.2nm 8kts
4. Cessna Citation DTL 4nm 8.6kts
5. Financial Crisis DTL 5.2nm 7.4kts
GOR points table and crew list for Leg 3:
1. Buckley Systems: 64 points. Ross and Campbell Field (NZL/NZL)
2. Campagne de France: 56 points. Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron (FRA/GBR)
3. Cessna Citation: 54 points. Conrad Colman and Adrian Kuttel (NZL/RSA)
4. Financial Crisis: 42 points. Marco Nannini and Hugo Ramon (ITA/ESP)
5. Phesheya-Racing: 24 points. Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire (RSA/RSA)
6. Sec. Hayai: 6 points. Nico Budel and Frans Budel (NDL/NDL) RTD Leg 2, DNS Leg 3. Will re-join GOR for Legs 4 and 5
Jan 31 2012
Constant lead changes as the front trio keep it tight
After two days at sea on Leg 3, the double-handed, Global Ocean Race (GOR) Class40s are dropping sharply south-east into the Pacific with the first three boats keeping close formation as they run off the wind in 30 knots of breeze in the Roaring Forties, leaving Chatham Island port.
In the 02:00 GMT position poll on Tuesday, the Franco-British duo of Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron had re-taken the lead with their Pogo 40S² Class40, Campagne de France, after handing over the leadership briefly to Ross and Campbell Field on Buckley Systems late on Monday night and relinquishing pole position to the New Zealand-South African team of Conrad Colman and Adrian Kuttel earlier in the evening as their Akilaria RC2, Cessna Citation, clipped averages of over 13 knots. Hitting the highest fleet averages at 13.3 knots an hour later, Buckley Systems was back in the lead at 03:00 GMT with Mabire and Merron less than three miles astern and Colman and Kuttel a further nine miles back down the race track.
While the leading trio has been consistently delivering averages of between 11-13 knots, over the past 24 hours, the South African duo of Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire with Phesheya-Racing in fourth have dropped back around 40 miles behind the front pack and furthest south at 45 degrees, Marco Nannini and Hugo Ramon on Financial Crisis were 63 miles behind the lead Class40 at 03:00 GMT on Tuesday.
On Campagne de France, the transition from a month on land in Wellington, New Zealand, to racing through the high latitudes has been swift for Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron: “Back into life at sea - trimming sails, changing sails, getting chased by, or chasing, the competition and sleeping whenever possible,” assures Merron. However, adapting was far harder on Buckley Systems: “Both of us were feeling pretty under the weather until this morning,” reports Campbell Field. “Much like a pretty powerful hangover - lack of sleep, poor discipline in eating and in my case anything that was eaten pretty quickly reappeared over the back of the boat,” he adds. “Headaches and grumpiness was the status quo for the first 24 hours on board and I put that down to caffeine withdrawals following the almost hourly dose of long blacks and flat whites from the Empire Cafe in Chaffers Marina, Wellington!”
GOR leaderboard 03:00 GMT 31/01/12:
1. Buckley Systems DTF 5628 13.3kts
2. Campagne de France DTL 2.2nm 12.7kts
3. Cessna Citation DTL 11.5nm 12.2kts
4. Phesheya-Racing DTL 56nm 10.4kts
5. Financial Crisis DTL 63kts 10.8kts
1 February 2012
Deeper south for the GOR Class40s
Speeds in the Global Ocean Race (GOR) fleet rose dramatically throughout Tuesday as the double-handed Class40s dropped south below Chatham Island with the five boats reaching into the high latitudes on port in 25-30 knots of northerly wind. Having taken the lead early on Tuesday morning, Ross and Campbell Field hit the highest speed averages on their Tyker 40, Buckley Systems, polling 14 knots, while the chasing Class40s, Campagne de France with Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron and Cessna Citation with Conrad Colman and Adrian Kuttel consistently delivering 13+ knots.
The first generation Akilaria Phesheya-Racing pushing hard in fourth place also averaged over 13 knots on Tuesday – a GOR speed record for the South African team of Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire – but dropped back to fifth place as Marco Nannini and Hugo Ramon’s southern option taken shortly after the start of Leg 3 with Financial Crisis began to pay as the Italian-Spanish duo converged with the main pack and closed in on the leaders.
While the strong conditions in Cook Strait immediately following the start in Wellington and the demanding luxury of fast reaching has thrown the GOR teams straight into action, the fleet’s progress east is now threatened by a low pressure system currently north-east of the boats and forecast to head directly towards the fleet. With the prospect of encountering 30-45-knot southerlies spinning from the system’s western edge, the options of being pinned north reaching, or beating south into a Force 7-8 had little appeal.
On Buckley Systems, Ross and Campbell Field were first to blink at 16:00 GMT on Tuesday, gybing and dropping south, handing the lead to Mabire and Merron on Campagne de France with Colman and Kuttel moving up to second on Cessna Citation: “You would have seen our move,” wrote Ross Field in a brief email as the GOR’s Geovoile Race Tracker revealed the drop south. “Don't panic, we think we know what we’re doing - we are investing in the future,” he continued.
Feb 3 2012
Two GOR Class40s head back to New Zealand
There has been intense drama in Leg 3 of the double-handed Global Ocean Race (GOR) as two of the Class40s, Buckley Systems and Campagne de France, have turned west and are currently heading for Auckland, New Zealand, while the three remaining boats, Cessna Citation, Financial Crisis and Phesheya-Racing continue into strong, Pacific Ocean headwinds in the Roaring Forties.
On Thursday evening at 48S, Ross and Campbell Field – leading the fleet on Buckley Systems – and Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron on the Franco-British entry, Campagne de France in second place, trailing the Fields by 20 miles, abruptly turned north. Initially this was thought to be a move to avoid 40-50-knot headwinds, but injury and gear damage on Buckley Systems had forced the Fields to head for port with Mabire and Merron making the same call.
Meanwhile, Conrad Colman and Adrian Kuttel have taken over pole position with Cessna Citation; Marco Nannini and Hugo Ramon are up to second place with Financial Crisis and the South African duo of Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire are now in third with Phesheya-Racing.
For the Fields who are currently leading the GOR overall on points, the decision to turn Buckley Systems towards New Zealand was indescribably hard: “A tough way to have a year of blood, sweat and tears collapse in front of you,” reports Campbell Field. Equipment failure, including part of the mainsheet system, has contributed to the father-and-son team turning west, but injury to Ross Field is a major factor. “On Leg 2, Ross took a couple of tumbles that would have stretchered-off any mere mortal with a bruise on one hip that looked like someone had taken to him with a baseball bat,” Campbell Field explains. “Coupled with a severe blow to the abdomen a few days later which was only acknowledged with a mere ‘that hurts a bit’ and ‘hope we have some more of those anti-inflammatories’,” Campbell Field recalls. “He’s a tough old bugger my old man,” he adds. “So, to see him now in so much pain meant we had an issue with facing the next 6,000 miles with one of us in agony and the loss of all wind instruments and, consequently, an effective pilot, seriously compromising our performance and safety.”
Currently, Buckley Systems is running downwind with triple reefed main and jib. “To all our friends, fans, family and supporters, thank you for your support and messages we have received,” says Campbell. “We’ll keep you posted on progress and the future as it unfolds.” On Campagne de France, Mabire and Merron had successfully preserved their Class40 and each other through the worst of the strong conditions, but a tough call was necessary: “Given the weather and sea conditions we have encountered and given the forecast weather along the northerly route which we have to take because of ice to the south, we felt that there was a strong possibility of boat breakage on this leg if we were to continue,” explained Halvard Mabire on Friday afternoon. “Apart from the fact that sailing into the wind and seas is rather uncomfortable – and we certainly aren't competing in the GOR for comfort - it is much tougher on the boat than sailing downwind,” he adds. “Based on the weather information available to us, with upwind conditions for much of the course to the scoring gate, we felt that the risk of breakage was too high in this remote part of the world.”
For Miranda Merron the decision is a matter of personal judgement: “It is the responsibility of each skipper to assess the risks involved and to decide to race or continue racing based on conditions experienced or expected,” she explains. “Our decision to head back is the result of this assessment.” Nonetheless, it has been a painful choice to make: “It has been an incredibly difficult decision to take, and one not taken lightly,” Merron confirms. “We have spent almost two years focussed on this project and there are a considerable number of people who are supporting this campaign.”
In the 15:00 GMT position poll on Friday, Colman and Kuttel on the new race leader, Cessna Citation, are making just under ten knots with a lead of 104 miles over Nannini and Ramon on Financial Crisis with Leggatt and Hutton-Squire a further 100 miles west. On Phesheya-Racing, Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire are weathering the storm that has pummelled the fleet: “The rough weather of yesterday has continued into today and in fact has deteriorated even further” reported Phillippa Hutton-Squire on Friday morning. “We’re making slow progress under triple reefed main and staysail and the exceptionally steep head seas are making things very difficult for the autopilot,” she adds. “Aboard Phesheya-Racing life has been reduced to the bare minimum of holding on, eating and sleeping,” explains Hutton-Squire. “Brief forays onto the deck to trim sails or check on things result in one being instantly soaked and frozen to the bone and life down below decks is a constant exercise in bracing oneself to avoid being thrown through the air to the other side of the boat,” she says. “Other than that, life is great!”
The GOR’s Race Director, Josh Hall, was airborne returning to the UK from New Zealand as the drama on Buckley Systems and Campagne de France unfolded with 24-hour cover for the fleet provided by Alan Green of the GOR Race Committee while Hall was temporarily out of contact: “This is a sad day for these two projects and for the race itself,” confirmed Hall shortly after hearing the news as he landed at Heathrow Airport, London. “Both teams have dedicated well over a year of energy, emotion and resources to competing at the highest level possible in the GOR and to be forced out of Leg 3 is devastating for them and everyone involved,” he adds. “We are waiting to hear whether they will rejoin the race later on or not, but the first priority is for them to reach safe haven. In the meantime the three other teams in Leg 3 are plugging into some very tough conditions,” he points out. “It is disappointing that the weather pattern is not currently providing the downwind sleigh-ride normally expected, but this is one of many reasons that racing around the world is a formidable challenge to boats and sailors.”