Since the second day of racing in Leg 1 of the double-handed, Class40 Global Ocean Race (GOR), third place has been held by the New Zealand-Spanish team of Conrad Colman and Hugo Ramon with their Akilaria RC2 Class40, Cessna Citation. Since the two leading boats in the GOR fleet crossed the Leg 1 finish line in Cape Town on Friday, Colman and Ramon have held pole position in the main pack of four Class40s, but after 35 days of racing, the two former Mini 6.50 sailors dropped from third to fourth place at 09:00 GMT on Monday morning, handing the lead to Marco Nannini and Paul Peggs on Financial Crisis.
Colman and Ramon have been isolated to the north of the GOR fleet in headwinds since opting to head east nine days ago and sail north of the high-pressure system blocking the route to the finish line in Cape Town. While Cessna Citation beat endlessly to the north-east, away from the finish, Financial Crisis, Phesheya-Racing and Sec. Hayai dropped south, hunting for stronger breeze below the system close to the Roaring Forties. Despite tacking back onto port on Saturday, Colman and Ramon’s loss of miles as they scrambled to get south has been dramatic and disappointing for the team, while the three remaining Class40s have been averaging a solid ten knots for the past two days with Nannini and Peggs polling 11 knots for much of Sunday, destroying the lead boat’s advantage.
With the four boats locked in a procession with no change on the GOR leaderboard for almost 30 days, the second wave of Class40s are now closing up with 1,200 miles to the finish. GOR Race Director, Josh Hall, explains the background: “The race leaders BSL and Campagne de France benefitted from a corridor of strong, favourable wind that allowed them to carve a high-speed wake across the South Atlantic towards Cape Town,” says Hall. “Unfortunately for the other four boats in the GOR fleet, the wind gods closed the door on them and they have had to struggle through some unusual conditions including some rather brutal and slowing headwinds in an area which should have provided downhill Trade-Winds.”
With the two leading Class40s building a 1,600 mile lead by the time Ross and Campbell Field on BSL took the Leg 1 gun off Cape Town on Friday, the second pack had been struggling with increasingly unusual weather conditions for over a week: “Subsequently, the dominant weather system feature here, the South Atlantic High, which is usually centred close to the island of St Helena, has established itself mid-ocean and much further south - along the latitude of Cape Town itself,” Hall continues. “Cessna Citation, who have had a firm grip on third place for much of Leg 1, chose a northerly option some days ago, but with the prospect of a 2,000 mile upwind beat all the way to the finish line, they have now bailed out, heading south and have subsequently relinquished their position.”