Over the past week, the five, double-handed Class40s in the Global Ocean Race (GOR) have crossed the most remote area of the Indian Ocean with a cold front and a deep low pressure system battering the fleet. While the two lead boats, Cessna Citation and BSL, dropped to 48S after crossing the Celox Sailing Scoring Gate at Kerguelen Island, the majority of the fleet kept further north in Roaring Forties with Financial Crisis and Phesheya-Racing in fourth and fifth place losing miles as a cold front swept east, forcing the two Class40s to take avoiding action. On Thursday, Cessna Citation and BSL reached the western end of the GOR’s Australian Ice Limit at 45S, increasing speeds dramatically while Campagne de France in third languished temporarily in unusually light winds, waiting for the low pressure system and strong breeze.
When the low pressure arrived, winds of 52 knots lashed the fleet, building monstrous seas and forcing many of the teams to adopt survival mode. After 19 days and over 4,000 miles of sailing in Leg 2 from Cape Town to Wellington, the GOR fleet is currently strung over 1,300 miles in the Indian Ocean’s high latitudes with the recent, very tough week adding 700 miles to the overall spread between the boats. At midnight GMT on Saturday as the sun rose at 45S, Conrad Colman and Sam Goodchild led the fleet around the eastern end of the 800-mile long Australian Ice Limit on Cessna Citation. “Freedom!” exclaimed Sam Goodchild on Sunday morning. “For the next 2,000 miles to Wellington, we can go wherever we like.” Throughout Sunday, Cessna Citation dropped south-east averaging 11.5 knots, clear of any virtual marks or exclusion zones. “This makes it the slightly more tactically interesting and also opens up opportunities for the guys behind to make up some of the miles lost, so we have to be careful.” At 15:00 GMT Ross and Campbell Field and BSL were 143 miles behind Colman and Goodchild. “Over the last few days we have been benefiting from a ‘rich-get-richer’ weather situation which has allowed us to extend our lead,” explains the Artemis Offshore Academy sailor. “But, the same way this bungee attaching us to BSL stretches, we expect it to contract over the final ten days and our aim is to stay safe and minimise the loses.”
At 10:00 GMT on Sunday, Ross and Campbell Field cleared the end of the ice limit, pointing BSL south-east and dropping sharply below 45S, making fractionally better speeds than Cessna Citation by 15:00 GMT. En route into the Southern Ocean, Ross Field has become distracted: “I ‘m trying to get a photo of the biggest albatross that I have ever seen,” he reported in a brief email on Sunday morning. “It’s like a 747 - the only difference is a 747 wing tips point up and the albatross's hang down,” he continues. “Maybe the 747 designer should come down and have a look,” suggests Ross. “It cruises passed the back of the boat so close that you can see it eye balling you – it’s so big that it nearly blocks out the sun!”