It’s all kicking-off for the Class40 leaders in the double-handed Global Ocean Race (GOR) as Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron on Campagne de France and Ross and Campbell Field with BSL crash through a front right in the middle of the South Atlantic and hook into the south-eastern express route to the Leg 1 finish in Cape Town with Mabire and Merron extending their lead as the Fields fought with headwinds. Conrad Colman and Hugo Ramon in third with Cessna Citation have also encountered headwinds as they met the south-easterly wind spinning off the top of the increasingly swollen high-pressure system centred 1,500 miles to the south and the duo’s steep descent through the South Atlantic was brought to an abrupt halt.
In fourth place, Marco Nannini and Paul Peggs on Financial Crisis and the South African duo of Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire in fifth with Phesheya-Racing and the Dutch team of Nico Budel and Ruud van Rijsewijk on Sec. Hayai remain in the north-easterly breeze, but conditions for the three first generation Akilarias are already beginning to change.
Furthest south in the GOR fleet in second place, Ross and Campbell Field felt the first effects of the front on Tuesday night as the wind built with sharp and unexpected blasts up to 27 knots, causing a knockdown under spinnaker. At 15:00 GMT on Wednesday, the overture finished and the offshore opera began: “What a bloody day and night!” commented Ross Field very early on Thursday morning. As the front rolled over BSL at around 23:00 GMT, the New Zealand Class40 was hammered by headwinds: “We’d been waiting for this front to pass over us and all day we had rain, wind and miserable conditions and then the front arrived with a blast of 30 knots of wind in the complete opposite direction.”
The duo had been hurtling along under spinnaker and the sudden change wreaked carnage on board BSL: “Campbell was on the foredeck wrestling the spinnaker, screaming instructions to me to run downwind,” continues Ross. “I couldn't see because of the rain and the wind was screaming so I couldn't hear what Campbell was shouting – or that’s my excuse, anyway.” The net result was the Fields rode out the worst of the conditions on starboard tack pointing at Europe: “We were going around in circles in 30 knots of wind heading back to Pom Rock!” While BSL span through most points of the compass, Mabire and Merron were still in north-easterly breeze averaging between ten-13 knots, adding 24 miles to their lead as chaos reigned 100 miles off their starboard beam with the Fields dropping back to 45 miles behind.