UK Flag French Flag

Final Festive OGR Finish into Auckland!

First prize for the happiest crew in the fleet arriving in Auckland! Credit: OGR2023/Jacqueline Kavanagh

Eleven in, Two to go in McIntyre Ocean Globe Race

  • Spinnaker and smiles as Spanish White Shadow ESP (17) crosses the finish line at 08:19 (NZLT) after 46 days, 7 hours, 19 minutes at sea.
  • Sterna SA (42) and Explorer AU (28) getting festive on the high seas.
  • Families fly in from around the world to spend holidays with crews in Auckland.
  • Two Legs down, two to go – including Cape Horn in Ocean Globe Race. RACE START LEG 3 (AUCKLAND TO PUNTA DEL ESTE, URUGUAY) JANUARY 14th!
Christmas Champagne for White Shadow celebrating after 46 days at sea. Credit: OGR 2023 / Jacqueline Kavanagh

They may not be top of the fleet, but White Shadow ESP (17) could certainly be awarded first prize for the most entertaining arrival. Under a grey, cloudy Auckland sky the scene was brightened in Waitemata Harbour by the Swan 57’s billowing spinnaker, a spontaneous kitchen utensil musical performance and dance moves from the ecstatic crew. At 08:19 (NZLT), after 46 days, and 7 hours they crossed the New Zealand Yacht Squadron finish line heralding the final pre-Christmas OGR arrival in Jellicoe Harbour.

Not only were they the first OGR yacht to arrive under spinnaker, but also to use coffee pots and baking trays as instruments during their final approach. The international crew hailing from France, Argentina, Spain, and Italy certainly know how to ramp up an entrance. 

After a painfully challenging final few days with fickle winds forcing slow progress around the notorious unpredictable Cape Reinga, it made frustrating Yellow Brick tracker viewing for the families eagerly awaiting their arrival. But they were determined to make it in time for the OGR Christmas party on the 23rd – which they did, with enough time to sleep and shower!

Skippered by Jean-Christophe Petit, White Shadow sits 11th on the leaderboard, provisionally 11th in IRC rankings and third in Sayula Class. Eleven of the 13 OGR yachts are already safely docked having completed Leg 2, Cape Town to Auckland, after what many of the fleet considered an easier-than-expected Southern Ocean experience. They have Cape Horn to face in Leg 3, so maybe they should be careful about what they wish for!

Jean-Christophe Petit was emotional as he stepped foot onto the Jellicoe Harbour pontoon.

It’s a blended feeling, very excited and super happy to arrive, but sad to leave the oceans because they were really great. But, more happy than sad. For all of us, the seas were a lot less rough than we anticipated. When we received the warning from the OGR about the bad weather we were taking it very seriously, we thought let’s do it safely, and then little by little you get acquainted with regularly 30 knots, 45, and 50 knots and you think fu…..k! We should have done it like this before!! We’re a little disappointed because we arrive late, but our objective is always to say, “If you want to win a race you have to arrive.

Jean-Christophe Petit, Skipper of White Shadow.
White Shadow crew, father and son, Jacques and Nico reunited with family who’ve flown in from the other side of the world for Christmas. Credit: OGR2023/Jacqueline Kavanagh

Meanwhile, two yachts will be spending Christmas on the high seas. South African entrant Sterna SA (42) and the Australian Swan 57, Explorer AU (28). Both had to return to South Africa to carry out essential maintenance which disqualified them from Leg 2, however, they’ll continue racing in Leg 3, Auckland to Punta Del Este, Uruguay which starts January 14th.

But the resilient crews are making the most of their Christmas at sea – a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most. It’s Elvis Christmas carols on the cassette player on board Sterna which is not to everyone’s taste according to skipper Melissa Du Toit, but apart from musical choices, Christmas plans are going well.

We are planning a secret Santa, and we have our resident ex-chef (Justin) onboard who’ll be preparing a special Christmas dinner. We have our decorations up and the crew are all planning special surprises.

Melissa Du Toit, Skipper of Sterna.

And it’s hardly a surprise to OGR followers that Team Explorer is focusing on food, which of course there will be plenty of onboard.

Patrick Bodiou and Benoit Docquet don’t let the lack of mistletoe stop them giving Jill Coomber her Christmas kiss onboard Explorer. Credit: OGR2023/Explorer
It’s Skipper Mark Sinclair’s AKA Capt. Coconut’s turn to open the advent calendar. Credit: OGR2023/Explorer.

Decorations up. Roast dinner. Mince pies… It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas :).” Tweeted Explorer. Who also appear to be using their tweets as Santa lists.

Dear Santa. We’ve been very good. Please can we have a new genoa? Ps, and a surprise!

To be honest, if they’d been very good they’d be in Auckland by now!! But let’s see what Santa thinks. At the time of writing Explorer had 2300 nm, Sterna 2700 nm with an estimated arrival date of January 7th/8th.

While some are taking the long stopover in Auckland as an opportunity to fly home many have family and friends flying in.

Youth crew, Aaro Immonen, the Finnish round-the-worlder on board the Swan 651 Spirit of Helsinki FI (71) is looking forward to seeing his mother and two sisters who waved him off in Southampton at race start. The former Whitbread boat (ex-Fazer) is sitting 3rd in line honours and 4th in provisional IRC.

I’ve heard there’s a Finnish import store in Auckland so we’re going looking for some traditional Finnish foods. And no, I haven’t started my Christmas shopping yet, last minute as always.

Aaro Immonen, Youth Crew of Spirit of Helsinki.

Maiden’s UK (03) Lana Coomes, whose family are flying in for Christmas, explains how the crew plans to celebrate the festive season. They crossed the line 4th in Auckland so clearly have much to celebrate – but not before maintenance is completed.

Spinnaker sail repair onboard Maiden before clocking off for Christmas break – if crews want to take sails off the boat for repairs they’ll incur a time penalty. Credit: OGR2023/Don McIntyre.

We’ve a lot of different nationalities and countries on board so we’re all planning on coming together and having one big Christmas dinner featuring dishes from around the world. I’m planning on making a little cocktail from Puerto Rico – it’s a special Christmas beverage called Coquito that’s delish.

Lana Coomes, Crew of Maiden.

Margault Demasles from Triana FR (66) plans on spending Christmas day having a BBQ on the beach, an interesting change from her normal cold French festive season.

Meanwhile, Tapio Lehtinen, skipper of Galiana WithSecure FI (06) has very fond memories of sailing into Auckland on board Skopbank of Finland in the 1981/82 Whitbread.

I’m looking forward to the Christmas fruit cake which I enjoyed 42 years ago when I was here. It must be the rum in it that makes it so special.

Tapio Lehtinen, skipper of Galiana WithSecure FI (06)

With two legs of the OGR completed and two to go Don McIntyre reflects on the race since start day on September 10th in Southampton

These sailors can feel very proud of themselves for having achieved so much during the first two legs. To take on the oceans in the spirit of the Whitbread races is something very special. These sailors are real adventurers, and they achieve what they have through hard work, skill, determination and a lot of passion. They’re proving anyone can sail like it’s 1973 and better still we’ve got two more legs to go. Thanks to all the crew, their managers, to all the family and friends who support them. And to loyal OGR followers – thank you – keep following it’s only going to get better. And finally, a big thank you to Tātaki Auckland Unlimited for their support in bringing the race to your wonderfully welcoming city.

Don McIntyre, OGR Funder and Organizer.

So, after 103 days since the race started, it’s time for the OGR crew to take a little time to enjoy all that New Zealand has to offer. Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten Sterna and Explorer are still sailing – Don and Jane will be keeping a very watchful eye!!


Evrika skipper Dominique and Mirabelle enjoying a traditional ice cream in Jellicoe Harbour. Credit: OGR2023/Jacqueline Kavanagh

Seven Former Whitbread Yachts Are Among The Fleet

The OGR race office is located in The Kiosk, Jellicoe Harbour at Wynyard Quarter, Wynyard Marina where official programs and some official OGR merchandise and posters are available.

Opening times will be limited over the Christmas period.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first Whitbread, the OGR is hosting a Whitbread Reunion on January 11th, 6pm – 8pm, in Auckland.

All Whitbread and Volvo Race veterans are invited but need to register with OGR first for details.

For more information contact

The OGR team wishes you all a very happy festive season and a Happy New Year!! And see you in 2024 for lots more racing around the world like it’s 1973!!!!



Official Suppliers

Host Ports