Unlike the New Zealand team on BSL, the Italian-British duo have relied more heavily on the pilot for the past three days. “Here we spend most of the time taking turns trimming the sails, but letting the autopilot steer, which seems the more efficient option, so we can recharge our batteries and rest a little,” he explains. Just four days into the race and with no on board refrigeration, Nannini and Peggs still have the option of fresh food: “Today we had brunch with eggs and bacon,” he reports. “An exception just for the first week and we’ll have an early dinner, probably some pasta as we’ve had freeze dried for main meals for two days.” With the temperature on board rising rapidly as the fleet head further south, the lifespan of any remaining fresh food loaded in Palma is becoming very limited and expedition-style food will soon become the staple diet for all the GOR teams. “If they just didn’t give the recipes such fancy names they may even be bearable, but when I read ‘Ginger Teriyaki Stir-Fry’ on the packet my hopes go up, but in reality I end up thinking; ‘what the hell is this?!’ at every mouthful.”
14 October 2011
Leading GOR Class40s are through the Leg 1 Scoring Gate
As the two leaders in the double-handed, Class40 Global Ocean Race (GOR) sailed into the Southern Hemisphere and through the Fastnet Marine Scoring Gate on the western side of the Fernando de Noronha archipelago, the main pack of four boats were gradually working clear of the Doldrums.
The Franco-British duo of Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron were first through the gate at 17:08 GMT on Thursday onboard Campagne de France, celebrating their 16th day at the front of the fleet with the maximum six points. Just under four hours later, Ross and Campbell Field passed through the gate taking five points for BSL.
As the two leaders cleared the gate and headed south 160 miles off the coast of Brazil, Conrad Colman and Hugo Ramon in third with Cessna Citation had found the Doldrums exit ramp and were picking up speed while the Italian-British duo of Marco Nannini and Paul Peggs in fourth on Financial Crisis had to endure headwinds 100 miles north of Cessna Citation until the early hours of Friday morning before finding the south-easterly breeze. The same cycle awaited Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire on Phesheya-Racing in fifth and the Dutch duo of Nico Budel and Ruud van Rijsewijk with Sec. Hayai in sixth.
The Fastnet Marine Insurance Leg 1 Scoring Gate represents around 40 per cent of the total distance from Palma, Mallorca to Cape Town and this fact was not lost on Miranda Merron: “Now that we have more or less crossed the Atlantic to within a relatively short distance of the coast of Brazil, we are embarking on another transatlantic crossing to Cape Town,” she observed shortly after crossing the gate. “There is still a very long way to go!” While the Fields took BSL around Fernando de Noronha in near-darkness, Campagne de France passed close to the island in daylight: “They’re stunning green islands,” says Merron, “and we’d like to come back and visit sometime, since as is often the case when racing, we merely pass beautiful and interesting places and don’t stop.” Since crossing the gate, both Class40s have been picking up speed, regularly trading nine and ten knots in the south-easterly breeze with Campagne de France adding a handful of miles to their lead between dawn and 15:00 GMT on Friday, separated from BSL by 28 miles.
16 October 2011
High speeds mean increased discomfort in the GOR
For the six Class40s in the double-handed Global Ocean Race (GOR), Week 3 (9-15 October) of Leg 1 from Mallorca to Cape Town began with the fleet leaders, Campagne de France and BSL slowing as they entered the Doldrums and the offshore elastic band between the boats began to expand and contract at the front of the fleet. Phesheya-Racing and Sec. Hayai in fifth and sixth place left the Cape Verde Islands to port, trying to sail as far west as possible and avoid the worst conditions to the south. By Tuesday, the mid-fleet Class40s, Cessna Citation in third and Financial Crisis in fourth, were snared by the Doldrums as Campagne de France and BSL broke into the South East Trades and escaped south-west with Phesheya-Racing and Sec. Hayai closing in from the north in more stable breeze.
On Thursday, the mid-fleet pack, locked in a cycle of squalls and calms, were compressed to 350 miles in the Doldrums while Campagne de France and BSL extended their lead to just under two days, passing through the Fastnet Marine Insurance Scoring Gate at the Fernando de Noronha archipelago separated by four hours with Campagne de France taking the maximum six points.
Over Thursday and Friday morning, Cessna Citation and Financial Crisis found the Doldrums exit door and entered the Trades, followed late on Friday by Phesheya-Racing and Sec. Hayai. During the weekend, Cessna Citation and Financial Crisis crossed the Equator on Saturday with Cessna Citation taking four points at the Fastnet Marine Insurance Gate shortly after 01:00 GMT on Sunday and Financial Crisis just a few miles north of the gate at 15:00 GMT on Sunday.
Campagne de France and BSL have been picking up speed as they reach south with averages between 11 and 12 knots on Sunday afternoon: “We’re about 500 miles east from the city of Salvador at the entrance of the beautiful Baia de Todos os Santos,” reported Miranda Merron from Campagne de France on Sunday afternoon. “Salvador was the finish of the Transat Jacques Vabre race and it was after one such race that Josh Hall outlined his plans over a beer or a caipirinha for what is now the Global Ocean Race,” she continues.
22 October 2011
Ross and Campbell Field take the lead in the GOR
After 24 days in the lead, Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron with Campagne de France dropped back to second place in the double-handed, Class40 Global Ocean Race (GOR) handing pole position to Ross and Campbell Field and BSL at 03:00 GMT on Saturday morning. While the Franco-British duo has been preoccupied with preserving their boat, including a mast climb in rough conditions by Merron, the New Zealand team increased their lead to five miles by 15:00 GMT.
With the exception of Nico Budel and Ruud van Rijsewijk in fifth place with Sec. Hayai, the main pack of Class40s are into south-east headwinds with Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire in sixth place with Phesheya-Racing reporting gusts over 31 knots. Since Conrad Colman and Hugo Ramon in third with Cessna Citation first entered the headwinds on Wednesday, the spread in the second wave of Class40’s has compressed by 80 miles as the high-pressure system blocking their route squeezes the four boats together with a 270 mile spread at 15:00 GMT on Saturday.
On Saturday morning, Ross and Campbell Field and BSL were back in the lead for the first time since exiting the Mediterranean on the third day of Leg 1. “It's a great feeling, but the battle will continue to the finishing line,” commented Ross Field at noon on Saturday. “Me old mate, Halvard, is not going to give up, that’s for sure, and the next six days are going to be full of drama, no doubt.” The father-and-son team are in good shape for the remaining 1,300 miles to the finish. “We have heaps of food; haven’t broken anything, touch wood; our wet weather gear is working, but our only complaint is that it's bloody cold,” he comments from 31 degrees South. “You get into the bunk with all your thermals on, boots on and wet weather trousers on - pulled down to the knee because it’s too much hassle to take them off - then cover yourself up with a sleeping bag and nod off to sleep.” Sleeping in soaking wet kit is far from ideal: “When you wake up two hours later, there’s steam rising from the bunk - just like a rugby scrum in the middle of winter and the smell isn't that good.”
While the Fields lead the GOR charge towards Cape Town, 70 miles to leeward of BSL, Mabire and Merron were fully occupied on Campagne de France. The Class40’s spare wind instruments had broken loose from their masthead fitting after days of continuous whiplash and by Friday morning, the carbon wind wand had slipped between the mast and the main halyard. If the duo needed to put in a reef and lower the mainsail, the wand could potentially jam the mainsail, damage the mainsail cars or destroy the masthead electrics.
Someone would have to go aloft: “We waited until nearly sunset when the sea state had improved somewhat, though still bouncing around in waves and difficult to stand without holding on,” reported Miranda Merron on Saturday morning. “You can imagine what the motion at the top of the mast 19 metres above the water was like.”
October 28, 2011
The Fields and BSL take first place in GOR Leg 1
At 05:13:25 GMT on Friday 28 October, Ross and Campbell Field took first place in Leg 1 of the double-handed, Class40 Global Ocean Race (GOR) crossing the finish line in Cape Town after 32 days 17 hours 13 minutes and 25 seconds and 7,300 miles of racing from Palma, Mallorca, on their Verdier-design Class40 BSL averaging 9.3 knots and finishing 89 miles ahead of Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron on Campagne de France.
Following a final sail change off Lion’s Head, swapping from spinnaker to jib, BSL beat on port tack passed Signal Hill and across the finish line off Cape Town shortly after sunrise. GOR Race Organisation officials boarded the Class40 to congratulate the duo and check that the engine seals installed pre-start were in place before the Fields dropped their sails and motored into Victoria Basin, through Alfred Basin and into the GOR Race Base at North Wharf in the V&A Waterfront Marina.
Clearly exhausted, showing signs of significant weight-loss, but on characteristically good form, Ross and Campbell Field admitted that they had little left to give: “We’re absolutely stuffed, I’ll be honest,” said Ross shortly after berthing at North Wharf. “It’s all due to Halvard and Miranda as they’re clever sailors and know where to position their boat,” he continues. “We knew that we’d have a chance to peg them back once we got into the Southern Hemisphere and the reaching conditions suited our boat, but we had to push really hard – it’s absolutely crucial. If you don’t push 120 per cent, you’re gone and – fortunately – Campbell did excellent work on the weather.” Campbell Field reckons that if Campagne de France had extended over 40 miles ahead, the door would have shut: “There’s always more pressure when you’re chasing,” he believes. “At times we were hanging on by our fingernails.”
Prior to the delivering the boat to the GOR start in Palma from Lymington on the South Coast of England, the Fields had raced BSL once in the Rolex Fastnet Race and GOR Leg 1 was an eye-opener for two highly-experienced sailors, but newcomers to Class40: “It’s a really startling boat, quite amazing,” says Ross. “Sometimes, it just kept going faster and faster and you had to wonder when the limit would be reached.” There was one major crash that the duo will always remember when they feared the mast would be lost, but there is no major damage. “The boat is immensely strong and the only breakage has been due to our errors,” confirms Campbell. “Nothing has failed on board.”
Other than work on the sails and strengthening up some pieces on the boat, there’s little preparation before the start of Leg 2 to Wellington, New Zealand, on Sunday 27 November. “The main objective is getting some rest,” he continues. “We were getting weaker and weaker and although our muscles weren’t atrophying, we just had less and less strength.” Despite the fatigue and potential recovery time, there are no regrets: “It’s just a fantastic event and a brilliant concept,” adds Ross of his sixth circumnavigation race. “It’s disappointing that boats pulled out just before the start, but they’re missing out on the best sailing in the world and we’re loving it!”
The father-and-son team from New Zealand led the six Class40s in the GOR fleet immediately after the start until they left the Mediterranean after three days of racing following the start on Sunday 25 September in Palma. Having exited the Strait of Gibraltar, the Franco-British duo of Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron on Campagne de France overtook BSL as the fleet encountered light airs, forcing the six Class40s close to the coast of Africa before heading south-west across the North Atlantic.
The Fields chased hard as the North East Trade Winds arrived, pushing the leading duo through the middle of the Cape Verde Islands, stalling briefly in the archipelago. Heading south-west towards the Fastnet Marine Insurance Scoring Gate off the Brazilian island of Fernando de Noronha, the Fields crossed the Doldrums swiftly, passing through the scoring gate 14 miles behind Mabire and Merron on Campagne de France after 15 days of racing. Having dropped south sharply to avoid a high pressure system north of the Falkland Islands that threatened to shut the door and prevent a fast, downwind ride across the South Atlantic, the New Zealanders overtook Campagne de France on 22 October, bringing to an end Mabire and Merron’s grip on the front of the GOR fleet.
BSL has scored a total of 35 points for Leg 1 (5 points for crossing the Fastnet Marine Insurance Scoring Gate in 2nd place + 30 points for 1st place in Leg 1).
The second Class40, Campagne de France was 71 miles from Cape Town at 09:00 GMT with a finish line ETA of Friday evening.