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Dramatic start to Leg 4 of McIntyre Ocean Race in Punta del Este

Pen Duick VI FR (14) Man Overboard after the leg 4 start - Crew Recovered. Credit: Aïda Valceanu/ OGR2023

Spirit of Helsinki First Across The Start Line

  • Pen Duick VI FR (14) Man Overboard – Crew Recovered.
  • Evrika FR (06) & Explorer AU (28) hit buoys just after starting in big seas.
  • Spirit of Helsinki FI (71) first across the start line in challenging South Westerly 15-knot winds and lumpy 3-meter seas. Outlaw AU (08) second, Pen Duick VI FR (14) third.
  • Emotional goodbyes as 137 sailors set sail for Cowes, UK in the final leg of McIntyre Ocean Globe Race.
  • Over 6550 nm of tricking sailing ahead for the 13 classic yachts – fickle winds, doldrums, and the Bay of Biscay to look forward to!
Spirit of Helsinki FI (71) led the charge across the Leg 4 starting line, with Outlaw AU (08) following closely behind. Credit: Aïda Valceanu/ OGR2023

It was a thrilling start to Leg 4 of the McIntyre Ocean Globe Race in Punta Del Este, Uruguay. Just seconds after the 14:00, local time start, Spirit of Helsinki FI (71) crossed the line first, Outlaw AU (08) second and Pen Duick VI FR (14) third – just a hair’s breadth separating the nail-bitingly tightly packed fleet.

In 15, gusting to 25 knots South Westerly headwinds and lumpy 3-4 meter swells the OGR spectators gracing the Punta del Este breakwater were treated to an entertaining display of classic yachts racing in, at times, way too close for comfort.

Initially slated to lead off, Team 9 ITL (09) requested to start last due to last-minute packing frenzy. Impressively, they made it for the Leg 4 start. Credit: Aïda Valceanu/ OGR2023

And it wasn’t long before this too close for comfort racing and big seas produced the first drama of the day. Shortly after race start Maiden UK (03) radioed to communicate with a Man Over Board – which was later confirmed to be a member of the crew sailing Pen Duick VI. The Prefecture was alerted to the call. OGR requested confirmation from all entrants and Spirit of Helsinki reported the MOB was from Pen Duick VI and the person concerned had been recovered. At the time of writing Pen Duick VI has yet to confirm further clarification of the incident and OGR control is awaiting further information.

Dramatic start to Leg 4 of McIntyre Ocean Race in Punta del Este with big swell. Credit: Aida Valceanu / OGR2023

Also, within the first 30 minutes, the stunning Swan 65 Evrika FR (07) and IRC winners of leg 3 Triana FR (66) came a little too close for comfort narrowly avoiding a collision but resulting in Evrika colliding with and spearing a buoy with their bowsprit. Damage reports have not yet been received from Evrika but it must have been a tricky extraction… Explorer AU (28) was also to suffer from the big sea hitting a large port control maker in a stalled tack, sliding up onto it before dragging past. They reported the damage as ‘cosmetic’ and continued unaffected by the hit and run.

Getting way too close and personal with a buoy stuck on the bowsprit of the Swan 65 Evrika. Credit: Matias Capizzano

All this drama and the fleet hadn’t even left the bay!

The day started a lot less dramatically for 137 sailors setting sail for Cowes, UK in the final leg of the OGR. With final provisions stowed, phones sealed in grab bags and last-minute maintenance completed the crews assembled in front of the Yacht Club Punta Del Este for the customary fleet photo. There was also another generous presentation by the club for each yacht as a memento of their time in the Punta del Este stopover. Meanwhile, the naval band entertained the spectators who’d gathered to wave the fleet off – many recalling memories of former Whitbread Round the World stopover.

Crews gather to wave farewell to the cameras! 137 sailors on 13 yachts set sail for Cowes, UK Credit: OGR2023/Rob Havill

Explorer AU (28) was the first to leave the pontoon at 11:00 – the remaining fleet following at 10-minute intervals. Finnish yacht Galiana WithSecure FI (06) didn’t disappoint and provided the now anticipated operatic performance from crew member Ville Norra up the mizzen mast to the delight of the silent crowds lining the wall. Then the ceremonial cannon fire from TAPIO as they left the marina. Translated 9 ITL (09) were scheduled to be first away but requested last as they were still out shopping for food a couple hours earlier and frantic packing was underway. They were the last to slip lines with emotional farewells from their supporters. Co-skipper Marco Trombetti was among the many Translated 9 fans on the pontoon. Not sailing on this leg Marco was on this occasion waving his wife Isabelle off as she set sail for Cowes, UK.

Galiana WithSecure delighted the crowds with an anticipated operatic performance by first mate Ville Norra, who sang from atop the mizzen mast, creating a mesmerizing spectacle. Credit: Pierre Maxime

Today’s start proved extra special as it’s not only the last departure of the OGR, but it’s the first time since the September race start that the entire fleet has departed together.

The sun shone for the 14:00 start with huge numbers turning out to witness the spectacle, which included the presence of the Uruguayan Naval Vessel “Audaz”. The lumpy seas and swell meant very challenging tactical decisions were required. Within a couple of hours, it was Maiden UK (03) who was to take the lead in the fleet – but with over 6650 nm to the Royal Yacht Squadron finish line in Cowes, there’s a long way to go…….

Emotional goodbyes as 137 sailors set sail for Cowes, UK in the final leg of McIntyre Ocean Globe Race. Credit: Don McIntyre / OGR2023

You can follow all current rankings real time live on the leaderboard of the OGR tracker HERE

While waving off the fleet, Daniel Sielecki, Vice Commodore of Yacht Club Punta del Este admitted he was looking forward to seeing the OGR return again.

After almost a month of a successful stopover, the time to say goodbye to the OGR is here, with the usual bittersweet taste that these events leave to us. I am happy to have hosted such an amazing group of adventurers, and happy to see our Club teaming up as it’s best to make sure every aspect of the stopover runs smoothly, we succeeded indeed!

Sadly, it came to an end so fast, we wish them all fair winds, and we are already looking forward to their next visit.

Daniel Sielecki, Vice Commodore of Yacht Club Punta del Este

And while the 13-strong fleet set sail on the final leg of the OGR, Don McIntyre, OGR founder, spoke of his feelings about what has been achieved to date.

Check out the amazing fun start on the water, don’t miss out 🙂

What an amazing start that was. It’s just fantastic to see the fleet set sail again, and a fleet that includes seven former Whitbread yachts. Every one of those yachts has a special history and story, as does every crew member on board. These crews have a big challenge ahead of them before they cross the finish in Cowes but that is what they’ve signed up for. I’ve said it before but I’m very, very proud of what each and every one of those sailors setting sail today has achieved. They are showing the world that now, any sailor can race around the world via Cape Horn.

Don McIntyre, OGR founder
OGR2023 – Punta del Este Race Start – Drone footage by Pierre Maxime

So, the next five, six, or seven weeks will prove very interesting with line honours and IRC rankings up for grabs. Follow the race on the OGR tracker! The first yachts are expected across the Royal Yacht Squadron finish line approx. April 9th/10th.

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