In the 15:00 GMT position poll on Thursday, Ross and Campbell Field leading the double-handed, Class40 Global Ocean Race (GOR) fleet on BSL are just 117 miles from the finish with an ETA of early Friday morning at the Cape Town finish line with an 87 mile lead over Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron on Campagne de France in second. While the final miles for the leading pair of Class40s has been exceptionally tough with squalls delivering two knockdowns for BSL, the pack of four Class40s strung out in a line 670 miles across the middle of the South Atlantic remain frustrated by the collapsing high-pressure system blocking their route to the finish.
After 32 days and 6,700 miles of racing through the Mediterranean and North and South Atlantic, the final route into Cape Town has been exhausting for the Fields on BSL and Mabire and Merron on Campagne de France. Having opted for a southerly approach to the finish in the hope of finding stronger breeze, the Fields found between 20-48 knots with sustained periods of 30-25 knots. “We wiped the poor old boat BSL out twice and one time was a real beauty,” reports Ross Field on his last day at sea in Leg 1. Running under a fractional spinnaker in around 28 knots, Campbell Field spotted a squall and the spinnaker was swiftly swapped for a headsail. “We did everything correctly and prepared for a squall of 35 knots max, but it just kept increasing to 48 knots and we were charging, up over waves, through waves, down waves at speeds of over 20 knots and then, finally, I planted poor old BSL into the bottom of a huge roller and she came to a grinding halt,” Ross continues. “She tipped over on her side, keel flapping in mid-air, and I thought the rig was going to be blown out of the boat and land on Table Mountain.”
However, the mast stayed vertical: “We got BSL back on her feet and we were off again,” he confirms. “Man, she is a tough boat, and a pleasure to sail,” adds Ross. “I have said to Campbell on many occasions that BSL is the most incredible reaching boat that I have ever sailed on - sometimes it’s like she is on rails and just goes faster and faster until you start thinking - when is this boat going to slow down - bloody amazing!!”