Four more finishers – Leg two

Neptune FR (56) has taken 7th place in line honours and a provisional 9th in IRC ranking after crossing the line in a spectacular sunset finish to their Southern Ocean leg. The distinctive 60ft sloop returned to Auckland waters once again having raced in the 1977 Whitbread, on this occasion improving on their previous performance, when they placed 8th, then skippered by Bernard Deguy.

The painstakingly restored yacht had a tough start to Leg 2 when they were forced to return to Port Elizabeth, South Africa, to investigate a possible problem with their steering raft and tiller. They contacted OGR race control to clarify the situation and it was established they did not require outside assistance for the maintenance they required. Port Elizabeth, a commercial port, restricts anchoring so the sloop was pulled alongside to carry out repairs. Nobody went ashore and it was confirmed that the communications bag seals were not compromised nor did they receive outside assistance so they continued racing and were not disqualified from the Leg. They then made-up decent speeds and gained on lost miles on the rest of the fleet. They stuck mid-fleet for the rest of the race.

Skipper Tannguey Raffray is clearly happy with the crew’s performance but like many of the skippers who’ve already arrived in Auckland, was slightly surprised how tame the Southern Ocean has been.

“Everybody is very happy, we had a wonderful trip, fantastic! It was very hard, no, in fact, it was not so hard. Maybe just a little hard. The boat was really good, fast, and we enjoyed it so much. It was the first time I was in the Southern Ocean. The first storm we had was really violent, we had such big waves and the winds increased suddenly, sixty knots and you don’t find that in the Atlantic. The wind is changing all the time so you have to take a lot of care about that. That was difficult but the crew managed it very, very well. And then the rest was OK.” TANNGUEY RAFFRAY, SKIPPER OF NEPTUNE.

The popular crew have two missions onboard. First, of course, to sail around the world and secondly to spread a message of inspiration that having Parkinson’s disease does not mean you cannot live a life to the fullest.

Circumnavigator Frenchman Bertrand Delhom is proving nothing can stop him from achieving his dream – not even Parkinsons. He is determined to show what is possible if you put your mind to it and have a determined crew and family behind you. Bertrand has been providing reports weekly during the boat’s weekly mandatory satellite calls educating his many fans about how he’s coping onboard with this condition.

“We had some small technical issues, some bad weather, but overall, it was a very good leg with some good sailing. And I’m feeling good and I hope that my experience can give hope to people suffering from Parkinson’s. I would like to tell them “Enjoy life!” BERTRAND DELHOM, CREW OF NEPTUNE.

The sun came out to welcome the fifth and final French yacht in the fleet in Auckland. The elegant Swan 65, Evrika FR (07), skippered by Dominique Dubois, and crew totally by family and friends. They crossed the finish line at 15:29:13 after 41 days, 14 hrs, and 29 mins at sea. They currently hold 8th in line honours and a provisional 7th in IRC.

Luckily Evrika managed to arrive at the quarantine dock for customs and immigration with five minutes to spare meaning they wouldn’t have to wait overnight onboard until the following morning and were free to leave the boat and enjoy a well-deserved shower and beer with the other crews.

Dominique Dubois confirmed what many of the skippers are relaying about their Southern Ocean experiences.

“I am very, very happy to be here. But the Indian Ocean was not as impressive as I’d imagined. I was expecting bigger waves, more winds, but we didn’t have more than 45 or 50 knots – but still, we went fast. I can still say it was amazing. ” DOMINIQUE DUBOIS, SKIPPER OF EVRIKA.

Things started getting very exciting as Outlaw and Galiana WithSecure rounded Cape Reinga late on the evening of the 17th. Five miles separated the Baltic 55 (formerly known as Equity and Law) skippered by Aussie Campbell Mackie and and the oldest yacht in the race, the Swan 55 skippered by former Golden Gold sailor Tapio Lehtinen.

The hours that followed was nail-biting match racing, as Outlaw took a more Easterly line whilst Galiana WithSecure stayed closer to shore. The unpredictable winds made it virtually impossible to call. The constant wind shifts made for hypnotic viewings. The currents in the harbour were also to add another element of fun to the games.

Finally, the 53 – year-old Swan, Galiana WithSecure made the break entering Auckland harbour just one mile behind Outlaw. Then disaster as the wind dropped and the tidal flow running out increased to around 2.5kts leaving Galiana WithSecure tacking back and forth across the harbour, but drifting and being pushed away from the line. OUTLAW crossed the line at 02:33:23 on December 18th after 42 days 1hr 33 seconds at sea.  They now sit 9 in line honours and a provisional 10th in IRC.

“It was a good trip; it wasn’t as challenging weather-wise as we anticipated it might be. Dealing with the high pressures coming up the Tasman seas was a bit of a challenge but I think what was really good was that Galiana and ourselves arrived at Cape Reinga about the same time and we had a great match race down including a very close finish last night. Which would have been even closer if they hadn’t got caught up in the tide than we did. ” CAMPBELL MACKIE, SKIPPER OF OUTLAW.

Outlaw crew member Matt Sinnett-Jones admitted he’d been a little nervous about the Southern Ocean after all the tales of woe relayed in Cape Town prior to departure of Leg 2. But as it turned out things weren’t so bad after all.

“We heard how treacherous it was going to be a rough ride and very difficult but that wasn’t our experience. For two weeks we had a high with us and then the low fronts came through, so we didn’t experience all the things we heard about. I felt a little bit short-changed, to be honest by the Southern Ocean. ” MATT SINNETT-JONES, CREW OF OUTLAW.

For Galiana WithSecure that last frustrating mile to the finish line took 2 hours, finishing finally at 05:04:47 after 42 day 4 hrs 4 mins racing. Galiana WithSecure took 10th in line honours and 6th in IRC. But for skipper Tapio Lehtinen the drag race with Outlaw was one of the highlights of the whole Southern Ocean experience.

“It was great. It was supposed to be tough and at times it was tough, but not as tough as we were expecting it to be. But it was very good racing – and racing is at times frustrating when the wind doesn’t cooperate or you interpret the weather wrong as we did a couple of times. We had a fantastic race yesterday with Outlaw coming in, chasing them and getting very close and I just told Campbell that I’m happy to be beaten by them. It was a great race against them and we thoroughly enjoyed it. ” TAPIO LEHTINEN, SKIPPER OF GALIANA WITHSECURE.

And as is tradition now in the OGR, Ville Norra, First Mate of Galiana WithSecure, performed for the crowds his latest hit single – bound to be No 1 for Christmas “Oh Auckland (save us a beer or two)”. Available in all good record stores now!

Three yachts remain at sea. Spanish Yacht White Shadow ESP (17) have just over 500nm until Auckland and are expected later in the week. Explorer AU (28) and Sterna SA (42) still have another 3000 nm ahead of them. Both had to return to South Africa to carry out essential maintenance which disqualified them from the leg. They will continue racing in Leg 3, Auckland to Punta Del Este, Uruguay. Leg three starts January 14th.

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