OGR – Final Countdown To Leg 3

  • Explorer AU (28) FINALLY crosses Auckland finish line 62 days after Leg 2 start. And Sterna SA (42) finishes 63 days after race start.
  • Crews preparing for Cape Horn leg after long festive stopover.Excitement builds for Auckland Whitbread Veterans Reunion on January 11th.
  • Where to watch Race Start – January 14th, 14:00 hrs.  Start line – Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron

WITH JUST SEVEN DAYS to the start of leg three to Cape Horn of the MCINTYRE OCEAN GLOBE, Explorer AU (28) has finally crossed the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron finish line 62 days after the start of Leg 2. The Swan 57, and her 10 crew, skippered by Mark Sinclair (AKA Captain Coconut) were naturally overjoyed to have finished what has proven to be a challenging leg from Cape Town to Auckland.

Their late arrival on Leg One into Cape Town meant a delayed start for Leg 2, setting the tone for the rest of their adventure. Starting a week behind the rest of the eleven-strong fleet, who left Cape Town on November 5th, was bad enough. Their situation became even more difficult after just three days at sea they were forced to return to Cape Town for repairs after losing their head sail and damaging rigging. Receiving outside assistance meant Explorer was excluded from Leg 2 rankings, forbidden under the Notice of Race.

The rest of the OGR fleet enjoyed what many considered an ‘easy’ Southern Ocean crossing, Explorer was less fortunate weather-wise once finally underway. They were forced to dodge a potentially hazardous storm two weeks into the passage, again, adding days to an already long ocean passage. Arriving without an engine and damaged deck gear and just seven days to the start of Leg 3, Auckland to Punta del Este, the pressure is on to ensure the boat and crew is ready to leave on Sunday 14th.

Explorer AU (28) FINALLY crosses Auckland finish line 62 days after Leg 2 start.Big smiles on all the crews’ faces. Credit: Aida Valceanu / OGR2023
Explorer AU (28) FINALLY crosses Auckland finish line 62 days after Leg 2 start.Big smiles on all the crews’ faces. Credit: Aida Valceanu / OGR2023

“We are a happy crew to be here that’s for sure, memories well… had a very bumpy crossing of the Agulhas current southeast of South Africa and had a great sail through the Southern Ocean averaging 200 nautical miles in a number of days. We were accompanied by an albatross and had numerous whale sightings including orcas and pilot whales in plenty of big seas and ate too well.. It was slow going across the Tasman Sea trying to avoid a high-pressure system with no wind and lots of spinnaker work. The highlight of the voyage was sailing into Auckland Harbour under a spinnaker and having to sail into our berth in Jellicoe Harbour, as our engine was KAPUT…now the work list !”MARK SINCLAIR, AKA CAPTON COCONUT OF TEAM EXPLORER

Team Explorer Youth Crew Ryder Ellis, local Aucklander excited to sailing into home country and welcome by family. Credit:OGR2023/Jacqueline Kavanagh
Team Explorer Youth Crew Ryder Ellis, local Aucklander excited to sailing into home country and welcome by family. Credit:OGR2023/Jacqueline Kavanagh

Team Explorer Youth Crew Aucklander Ryder Ellis celebrated his 18th birthday at sea and was on the helm entering Auckland harbour. The youngest member of the OGR fleet told us:

“Oh well I’ve had  an awesome time and it’s, you know it’s something quite spectacular about sailing into your home country and seeing people you know, had a lot of family out on the boats meeting me out there along the way so that was really awesome awesome to see and I’m pretty glad to be back but yeah had a great time.  For the southern ocean experience, it’s awesome, everything I expected but like you know, you always talked about the big waves and the big winds and we got a fair bit of that so that’s what I was looking forward to… Now a nice sleep would be good, uninterrupted, then hang out with my family a bit and maybe a bit of Summer cruising hopefully.”TEAM EXPLORER YOUTH CREW AUCKLANDER RYDER ELLIS

Sterna SA (42) the final OGR yacht arrived in Auckland on Monday morning. The Swan 53, skippered by Melissa Du Toit, also suffered from a delayed start and had to return for repairs after departure, also excluding them from Leg 2 rankings. They fully intend to start with the fleet next Sunday.

“Maybe not the easiest debut for the Southern Ocean, but as far as weather goes we got it pretty easy. At least we got to test the emergency steering for real, there are not many people that can say that. It worked, but it’s broken again now – it’s just another thing to fix. The highlights were the Southern lights, we saw orcas and of course the team and the support we got. I’m feeling all the emotions right now – ecstatic to be here but absolutely gutted to have missed Christmas and New Year.

We’re feeling a little overwhelmed by the amount of work we have to do. It’s exhausting playing catchup – we’re definitely going to do our best to get out on the 14th for race start.”MELISSA DU TOIT, STERNA SKIPPER OF LEG 2

Meanwhile the rest of the fleet have taken full advantage of the long stopover to explore all New Zealand has to offer. But, with only seven days until the start of Leg 3 the crews have a busy week with briefings, safety checks, provisioning and last-minute maintenance scheduled over the coming days.

Ian Herbert-Jones, first mate on Spirit of Helsinki FI (71) and a 2022 Golden Globe Race skipper , currently sitting in 3rd in Line Honours and IRC ranking is back in the swing of things after touring New Zealand with his family over Christmas.

“Everyone is now starting to come back after a nice break and starting preparations in earnest. We did a lot of prep before everyone disappeared and now it’s time to put the boat back together ready to go to sea. Most of the stuff left to do is minor maintenance, the biggest thing we have to do is repair the inner forestay and I now have the new parts in my hand so I just got to make sure it all goes back together.”IAN HERBERT-JONES, FIRST MATE ON SPIRIT OF HELSINKI FI (71)

Mehdi ensures all is ready for Leg 3 onboard Outlaw. Credit:OGR2023/Jacqueline Kavanagh
Mehdi ensures all is ready for Leg 3 onboard Outlaw. Credit:OGR2023/Jacqueline Kavanagh

French round-the-worlder, Mehdi Cammoun, sailing on Outlaw AU (08), was also hard at work under the strong midday sun prepping for the much-anticipated Leg 3. He’s well and truly ready to leave for Leg 3.

“Right now I’m working on the mainsail re-tensioning the battens and checking that all the batten boxes are all good – while listening to Pink Floyd. The stopover was long so we’ve had a lot of time to get our maintenance done. I’m not nervous about Cape Horn, I’m really excited – can’t wait to get going.”MEHDI CAMMOUN, CREW OF TEAM OUTLAW

Yannick Evenou from France sailing onboard White Shadow ESP (17) is another sailor very excited and anxious about the infamous passage to Cape Horn.

“I’m not nervous about Cape Horn, I’m more concerned about the cold. I’m used to big seas, but I’m looking forward to being too wet and cold.”YANNICK EVENOU, CREW OF TEAM WHITE SHADOW ESP (17)

But it’s not all work, work, work. One of the most anticipated events planned before the race start is the Whitbread Veterans Reunion on January 11th. As many as 50 Whitbread Veterans have registered to attend an evening of memories, catching up, reliving race days and maybe a drink or two.

Barry Pickthall, AKA Mr Whitbread, and Peter Montgomery, AKA the voice of the Whitbread, will host the evening. A similar event in Southampton saw the biggest gathering of Whitbread veterans in sailing history and we’re hoping to top that in Auckland.

Any Whitbread or Volvo veterans who have not registered and would like to attend please contact jac@oceangloberace.com

Where to Watch The Start? From the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron the yachts will sail up the harbour to a rounding mark off the Royal Akarana Yacht Club then proceed towards North Head. You can view the action all along the coast from the Yacht Squadron to North Head.

For more information, visit www.oceangloberace.com.

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