By Brian Hancock
It may be a photo finish in Cape Town and I am not talking about the Kentucky Derby. I am talking about a boat race named the McIntyre Ocean Globe Race. The crew on Spirit of Helsinki pulled a rabbit out of the hat a couple of days ago (you might have thought that they are French but they are Finnish; the French love their bunnies) by attaching themselves to a small low pressure cell and got a squirt of juice. They are now 70-odd miles ahead of Marie Tabarly and her crew on Pen Duick VI and closing in on Cape Town at a fairly decent pace, but watch out, I know this area, I grew up sailing out of Cape Town and that beautiful mountain can play tricks with even Olympic standard sailors. It throws a mean wind shadow and that is where things can go pear shaped. We will keep an eye on things. Watch this space as Spirit of Helsinki is getting close to taking line honours, but don’t rule out Translated 9 and Maiden. Stranger things have happened in a yacht race.
Meanwhile, back along the bumpy path to Cape Town, I see L’Esprit d’équipe, Triana and Neptune playing silly buggers with the South Atlantic high pressure. It’s always a temptation to cut the corner as if you already start to smell the barn door, but they have pretty much run out of wind and wind is what you need if you are racing a sailboat around the world.
And it looks like White Shadow is about to do the same thing, and if those on Sterna don’t pull their pants up, they may end up in the beach weather zone too; lots of sun and no wind. Although, they may be looking for a quiet spot to watch rugby this weekend – Go Bokke.
Evrika is in a bit of a jam and heading for more jam. It’s too late to do anything about it. They chose the middle ground and their options are limited at this point. Outlaw, well they are obviously outlaws and they may have found a gap by heading east. More headwinds, but at least they will have wind.
Now my friends on Godspeed, god love them, they are still dithering but I bet that they are having a boatload of fun and that counts for a lot in my book.
The finish of the first leg of this great race is going to be very exciting, especially for us sailing nerds. Stay tuned to the Race Tracker.