Week Four (17-23 October) of the double-handed, Class40 Global Ocean Race (GOR) began with a fast dash south for the fleet leaders, Campagne de France and BSL, as a high-pressure system north-east of the Falkland Islands was forecast to spread across the South Atlantic and close the door for a downwind ride to the Leg 1 finish line in Cape Town. By Wednesday, Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron on Campagne de France and Ross and Campbell Field on BSL had built a 600-mile separation over the remaining Class40s as the long-awaited cold front rolled over the leaders and a knockdown for the Fields signalled the beginning of the New Zealand duo’s steady gains on Mabire and Merron. On Friday, Cessna Citation leading the fleet’s second wave was into south-easterly headwinds spinning of the top of the high-pressure system as the leaders chased a low pressure system towards Africa, fast reaching in an Antarctic blast of south-westerly wind.
Early on Saturday morning, Ross and Campbell Field took the lead, ending Mabire and Merron’s 24-days at the front of the fleet as the gap between BSL and Campagne de France and the following pack opened to 1,000 miles with the four chasing Class40s hammered by headwinds gusting over 30 knots.
With 1,100 miles remaining to the Cape Town finish line for the leaders, the final week at sea and the Leg 1 title will be decided by sheer determination, boat reliability and stamina. At 15:00 GMT on Sunday, BSL and Campagne de France were separated by 17 miles with Ross and Campbell Field sailing 50 miles to windward of Mabire and Merron averaging just under nine knots.
The four Class40s over 1,000 miles to the north-west of the leaders are now confronted with the centre of the high-pressure system 300 miles to the south, directly in their path. Conrad Colman and Hugo Ramon in third place with Cessna Citation have been making painful tacks to the east over the weekend while Marco Nannini and Paul Peggs on Financial Crisis and the South African duo of Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire on Phesheya-Racing have remained on port tack, heading west of south.