After 45 days of sailing, the former Whitbread winner L’Esprit d’équipe skippered by Lionel Regnier, has claimed 5th in line honours in Leg One of the McIntyre Ocean Globe. Light winds, which have dogged the crew throughout the race, slowed their progress once again as they crossed the line in Table Bay Harbour, Cape Town at 19:37 UTC, Oct 25th.
The French yacht is no stranger to these waters having first participated in the 1981 Whitbread under the name 33 Export, later going on to win the 1985 Whitbread under the name L’Esprit d’équipe then competing again in 1989 sailing as Esprit de Liberté.
Skipper Lionel Regnier is looking forward to racing much faster and harder through the Southern Ocean on Leg 2, Cape Town To Auckland. The youngest crew member onboard L’Esprit d’équipe, 21-year-old Mathias Lestienne was overjoyed to have finally reached Cape Town, joking that the winches now feel like part of his body.
“It was a long, long 45 days. That’s tough mentally, so I’m very happy to be here. We had to push right until the end. We had very light winds. We didn’t have the result we expected, we wanted to be fighting for the top position, but we’re fifth which is still great,” said a happy Mathias who was eager to get out to the nearest restaurant for a burger and chips.
Australian entrant, Outlaw, skippered by Campbell Mackie, blew out their historic 40-year-old spinnaker seconds before crossing the finish line after a classic and unique 45 days of sailing. The crew of the Baltic 55, were granted a 32-hour compensation to their finish time after they diverted to rescue a stranded mariner drifting in a 20ft canoe, 90nm off the coast of Dakar, Senegal. They now sit sixth in line honours, a provisional sixth in IRC, and second in Adventure Class.
The crew’s tactical choices proved a very interesting talking point throughout the leg as they continued to take the most easterly route in the race, hugging the West African coast. It clearly proved a winning choice, despite the long, hard beat to windward for weeks on end. While soaking in champagne following their arrival celebrations, Campbell was obviously delighted with life.
Round-the-worlder Lucy Frost, was very much looking forward to getting her feet on solid ground.
“Up until two weeks ago I would have preferred a beer to a shower, but we ran out of wipes so what I really want is a shower. That’s my first thing, then oranges and then a beer. Thankfully we didn’t run out of loo roll!” laughed Lucy.
Triana and Neptune finally continue to pick up decent north westerlies after being stalled in a trough of no wind and are both now within 150nm of Cape Town. Neptune have reported resorting to eating cold, tinned food due to limited gas and virtually no food onboard, so will be extra happy to get to Cape Town.
White Shadow has roughly 300nm remaining, while Evrika, Sterna and Galiana WithSecure are too close to call, all under 450nm to go.
Meanwhile, Explorer has not only lost the “Adelaide Cup”, the Aussie race taking place between Outlaw and Explorer, but will now surely miss the start of Leg 2. With over 1200nm to go until Cape Town, it appears the crew has turned their attention to things less urgent than sailing. But in between making costumes and baking there has also been other dramas onboard.
“We’d a 50-knot squall the other day and accidentally gybed and broke sail batons and cars in the main. We don’t have any spares so the next time we break them we’ll be repairing them with twigs and bits of string. Then the compressor for the AC fridge started smoking and sparking, so we had to put that out. It’s just been a long slog, we’re all ready to be there now”, said First Mate Terry.
Godspeed have sailed into a light patch and are currently making 0.5nm. They will be keeping Explorer company when the rest of the fleet leave for Auckland on November 5th.
Translated 9, holding first place in IRC have been busy since arriving in Cape Town replacing their mast. Co-skipper Marco Trombetti has been forced to quell a rumour that the reason the mast is being changed is because he didn’t like the shade of grey it was painted.
“Maybe we’re changing it because we had about a metre-long crack in the mast or maybe because Translated 9 pays a lot of attention to detail and we wanted to change the colour to a lighter shade of grey? I prefer the second reason,” joked Marco.
In reality, the reason is far more serious. Two weeks before the race started they noticed a serious crack in the mast. They got it fixed and obtained a new certificate of validity, but Marco and his team decided for safety reasons to get it replaced completely. The work will be completed within the next few days.
The crew of Maiden have also been working hard with little time to celebrate the success of coming in a provisional third in IRC ranking and second in Flyer Class. Notice of Race states that sails cannot be removed from yachts for repair, but the OGR has given special dispensation for yachts during the Cape Town stopover if a detailed application, with a photo, is submitted for analysis. Both Maiden and Translated 9 have been granted dispensation to date.
So all eyes are now on Triana and Neptune, the battle between the two French yachts due in next – hopefully in time for the Rugby World Cup.