Sunday, December 14, 2008

They're off - next stop Wellington

Desafio Cabo de Hornos against a murky background - Brian Hancock photo
With a heavy cloud shrouding Table Mountain the six boats participating in the Portimão Global Ocean Race set off on their 7,900 nautical mile voyage to Wellington, New Zealand. Executive Deputy Mayor, Cllr Grant Haskin fired the start gun and seconds later Michel Kleinjans aboard Roaring Forty crossed the line, sails sheeted in tight and wide grin plastered on his face. Moments later the German team of Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme on Beluga Racer crossed followed closely by the other solo sailor in the race, Nico Budel aboard Hayai. The wind, a steady northerly, made for an upwind beat to the first obligatory mark, Fairway buoy No 2 off Sea Point.

The fleet immediately split tacks with Jeremy Salvesen and David Thomson aboard Team Mowgli heading offshore toward Robben Island, and Kleinjans on Roaring Forty choosing instead to head for land hoping to pick up a nice lift off the wind bending around Signal Hill. The rest of the fleet chose a middle ground with Beluga Racer and Desafio Cabo de Hornos already locked in a neck-and-neck match race, the German yacht slightly ahead of the Chilean team of Felipe Cubillos and José Muñoz.

A large spectator fleet was on hand to watch the boats tussle their way out of Table Bay. The entire racing fleet for the Crock’s Regatta, a local regatta also taking place this weekend, was on hand to give the Portimão racers a rousing send-off with local sailors Peter and Lenjohn van der Wel surrounded by well-wishers waving and clapping.

Earlier in the day it was an emotional scene at the Royal Cape Yacht Club as hundreds of cheering people gave each yacht a fitting send-off. The fog slowly lifted and by the time all the boats were away from the dock there were peeks of blue sky forcing their way between dark rain clouds. Read more...