sabato 17 dicembre 2011

A brutal 24 hours for the Global Ocean Race fleet as the Southern Ocean starts to bite

After 17 days and 4,000 miles of hard racing, the five, double-handed, Global Ocean Race (GOR) Class40s are undergoing the toughest sailing so far in Leg 2 from Cape Town to Wellington, New Zealand, as the Southern Ocean bares its teeth. Currently hammering along the GOR’s ice limit at 45S, 700 miles south of Australia, fast reaching in northerly breeze of 30-35 knots, the fleet leader, Cessna Citation, has been consistently polling averages of 16 knots with BSL hard on the chase in second reporting surfs of 25 knots as the two boats pile east on the edge of control.

Passing north of the western end of GOR’s Australian Ice limit at 10:00 GMT on Friday, Campagne de France in third is experiencing monstrous, rolling waves and gusts of 30 knots with the forecast predicting that a solid 40 knots is on the way. Having already spent two days in a violent, three-reef, Roaring Forties centrifuge with gusts up to 45 knots, Financial Crisis and Phesheya-Racing are unable to shake off the strong stuff and with a solid 40-45 knots blasting from the south-west, the two Class40s are barrelling east in building seas.

Having climbed north and rounded the western end of the GOR’s Australian Ice Limit in first place at 08:00 GMT on Thursday, Conrad Colman and Sam Goodchild freed-off and let their Akilaria RC2 go, rapidly climbing through 15-knot averages and sustaining 16 knots for five hours. Consequently, Cessna Citation has spent much of the time semi-submerged: “We’ve been back to having bricks of water thrown at our heads and outdoor fashion has reverted back to the full sailor’s burka with only the eyes showing,” reports Conrad Colman. “On my Gill Ocean Smock I can even close this gap by ducking my head inside my collar, leaving me impervious to the spray, but blind into the bargain!” With conditions on deck unsustainable, Colman and Goodchild handed control over to the autopilot. “We’ve since averaged 16 knots with surfs to 22 on the back of waves and as the wind builds we’ll have to come up with some clever ways to slow the boat down!”

Throughout Friday, Cessna Citation polled averages between 13-16 knots, adding to the lead over Ross and Campbell on BSL building a 71-mile margin by 15:00 GMT on Friday afternoon. Although handing over to the autopilot prevented exposure to freezing water and wind chill, the speed and motion of the Class40 made conditions down below extremely hard: “Even sitting is a work out as one constantly braces against the wild motion,” Colman explains. “Somehow I don’t think we’ll see the Southern Ocean Ab-Master 40 in any infomercials anytime soon: ‘Do you want to smell bad, eat crap food but get abs to die for? Buy the Southern Ocean Ab-Master Express 40 for only three easy payments of €200,000! Call now and we’ll give you a race around the world for free!’.”

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