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Two Navy Ships Honour OGR Leg 2 Restart

Sophie Bel, Consul General of France, Don McIntyre Founder of the OGR, Commandant Francois Xavier Poisson, Aida Valceanu and crew of the French frigate spend an enjoyable evening swapping sailors’ tales. Credit: OGR2023 / Jacqueline Kavanagh

2 days to go for McIntyre Ocean Globe – restart 5th November

  • Ocean Globe Race fleet depart from Cape Town to Auckland. 5th November, 14:00 local time, Table Bay Harbour, Cape Town. 
  • African Naval Vessel SAS King Sekhukhune 1 and French Navy Frigate Floréal announced as official start vessels.
  • Reception hosted by the French Consulate and OGR, attended by Consul General of France, Sophie Bel, international diplomats, Navy personnel and OGR teams.
  • The 144 OGR crew briefed on the perils of the Southern Ocean. Press Conference and world premiere performance of ‘Port Tack’ song by Galiana WithSecure FI (06).
  • After 54 days at sea, Explorer AU (28) finally about to finish! ETA Saturday around 1200hrs just in time to watch the restart!
  • African entrants Sterna SA (42) to miss race start on Sunday due to gooseneck problem. Plan to leave Monday. 
  • Frantic preparations on the pontoons – hulls scrubbing, provisioning and safety checks continue.

The McIntyre Ocean Globe Race (OGR) will set off with a bang thanks to the unique, even extraordinary opportunity to have the support of two naval vessels on the start line! The chief of South African Navy, Vice Admiral M Lobese was enthusiastic in his support of the OGR and the opportunity to provide the 62m warrior class inshore patrol vessel SAS King Sekhukhune 1. The French Frigate Floréal, under the Command of Francois Xavier Poisson will act as the second official starter for Leg 2 of the OGR. South African sailor Kirsten Neuschäfer, who won the recent 2022 Golden Globe Race, will fire the start gun onboard SAS King Sekhukhune 1, while South African GGR sailor, Jeremy Bagshaw, will wave the sailors off from the French frigate. This joint naval effort signals a diplomatic cooperation between the French and the South African Navies for this major international yacht race.

Flag Officer Fleet (SA Navy) Rear Admiral Musawenkosi “Kop” Nkomonde (left). Credit: OGR2023

The French frigate, with 90 naval crew on board, is normally based in Reunion Island but is making a scheduled stopover in Cape Town, to support the OGR. The Commandant, Francois Xavier Poisson, himself a keen sailor, admitted he’d be tempted to take part in the OGR, if he could.

For the French navy, sailing is a very important sport. It’s a sport in contact with the sea. We don’t sail the same way in the navy as on sailing ships, but we have the same spirit and are in contact with the maritime environment, managing the crew, managing the ship and getting the best from them. I know there are five French entrants, so we had to be present. But there will not only be the French frigate but also a South African ship. As you know in the French navy we like rugby and we like sailing. Unfortunately, we missed out on the World Cup. With five entrants in the OGR we might win in sailing!

Francois Xavier Poisson, Commandant of French Frigate Floréal

Five of the 14 yachts racing around the world in the OGR are French, including Pen Duick VI FR (14), L’Esprit d’équipe FR (85), Evrika FR (07), Neptune FR (56), and Triana FR (66). There are also 96 French taking part in the eight-month adventure. This is combined with the strong South African connection with entrant Sterna SA (42) All Spice Yachting, racing in Adventure Class.

Sophie Bel, Consul General of France, spoke about her passion for French sailing and respect for those taking part in the OGR at a diplomatic event hosted by the French Consulate. The evening saw a host of international diplomats, the visiting crew of the Frigate Floréal and the OGR crew, mingle, sip champagne and there was even a little dancing. Speaking of the OGR crews, Sophie Bel said:

You are not merely sailors but adventurers, living an experience of a lifetime. This race isn’t about money, a showcase of the latest technology or even about breaking speed records. It’s about the pure joy and challenge of sailing. It’s about the shared experience and the bonds we form at sea. More than a sport, sailing embodies values that resonate deeply with us, sportsmanship, team spirit, solidarity and respect for the ocean. In the world we live in, that can seem to be falling apart at times, we need to keep these values alive. They give us hope.

Sophie Bel, Consul General of France

Ocean Globe Race founder and Race director Don McIntyre understands the significance of the start of leg 2.

Cape Town has for hundreds of years been a stopover for ships sailing around the world. I will never forget my first sighting of Table Mountain after 42 days solo at sea from Newport Rohde island in the 1990 BOC challenge, a solo round the world race. A South African navy vessel restarted leg two of that race and now to have the honour of two navy ships starting the OGR is simply fantastic. We are really excited. It sends a great message about international cooperation and traditions of the sea.

Don McIntyre, OGR Founder and Race Director
A tired, but happy, Dominique Dubois arriving in Cape Town. Credit: OGR2023 / Marco Ausderau

Racing with family and friends, Dominique Dubois, skipper of the Swan 65 Evrika FR (07), who was also in attendance recognised how special this race is for those taking part:

It was my dream when I was young and today I think I am dreaming. I’m living my dream. It’s fantastic. To cross the start line with other French boats is just amazing. Wow!

Dominique Dubois, Skipper of Evrika

It’s been a frantic final few days for the crews prepping to set sail from Cape Town for Auckland on Sunday 5th November.

Outlaw Skipper Campbell Mackie, the oldest sailor in the OGR at 73 with Ryder Ellis, the youngest sailor at 17, who is still waiting for his yacht Explorer AU (28) to arrive. Credit: Rob Havill / OGR2023

As well as maintenance, safety checks and provisioning, a hectic social schedule has been underway. Events kicked off on Wednesday night at the Royal Cape Yacht Club with a Captain’s Dinner.

The skippers spoke about their experiences since setting sail from Southampton on September 10th with many appreciative of the support the yachts provide to one another over the radio network while at sea.

“This race is a special undertaking. It takes people that are not the ordinary run-of-the-mill, but there’s no snobbery. Everyone is treated with respect. I find that very rewarding. The best example of that is how the HF radio worked with everyone sharing information which made the whole thing so much more enjoyable. I feel extremely privileged to be amongst such a group of people. I’m just having a ball, it’s wonderful,” said Campbell Mackie, skipper of the Australian entrant Outlaw AU (08). The Baltic 55 was originally built for the 1985/86 Whitbread and competed under the name Equity and Law.

The V&A Waterfront Amphitheater, Cape Town, was a hive of activity Thursday morning with 144 sailors attending their Leg 2 briefing. With just two days before the race start, they were given details on the start in Table Bay Harbour and the finish line in Auckland. They were also briefed on what to expect from the Southern Ocean.

Ian Herbert-Jones, a former Golden Globe sailor and now circumnavigating on board leg 1 line honours winner Spirit of Helsinki FI (71) as navigator recounted his experience in the Southern Ocean for the benefit of the other sailors about to embark on the mammoth sail to Auckland.

The biggest challenges the sailors are going to face is the big change from Atlantic sailing to the weather systems we’ll get. They’re dramatic and fast-moving and produce some very very big waves and difficult conditions. It’s going to be a big shift from champagne sailing to really rugged adventure sailing. My advice? Take care.

Ian Herbert-Jones, Spirit of Helsinki

The crew returned to the Amphitheatre later that afternoon for a press conference and a performance from Galiana WithSecure’s Ville Nora of ‘Port Tack Blues’. Inspired by spending more than three weeks on, yes you guessed it, port tack. He was inspired by a song first sang back in 1978 call “Pilvee, pilvee.” The OGR team are determined to make Ville an international singing superstar!

And then of course there’s the all-important provisioning, maintenance and paperwork to be completed.

Sterna / All Spice Yachting arriving home to Cape Town. Credit: OGR 2023 / Jacqueline Kavanagh

The popular South African entrants Sterna SA (42) All Spice Yachting are naturally upset not to be leaving with the fleet on Sunday after discovering on Friday afternoon that essential work needs to be carried out.

We were on track to start on Sunday but on the last job, the rigging company removed the gooseneck fitting to rebed it and they discovered a crack behind the gooseneck. We are not comfortable with the crack so we have to have a bigger support wrap around fabricated and the first available company that can do this is Monday morning. We’ll be prepared to leave on Sunday and just wait for that bracket. And as soon as this is installed we’ll put up the mainsail and leave Monday afternoon. We really wanted to leave with the fleet but to be 24hrs behind is not the end of the world, but it is a big disappointment.

Rufus Brand, Skipper of Sterna

Sterna’s co-founder Gerrit Louw has been massively impressed by the help they team since returning home to South Africa.

The support we’ve got from the local communities, businesses and Royal Cape Yacht Club has been amazing. The other competitors have really gone out of their way to help us too and offer us support in whatever way they can.

Gerrit Louw, Sterna co-founder
Triana crew have been shopping. Nolwen and Margault busy stocking up. Credit: OGR2023 / Jacqueline Kavanagh

Meanwhile, the OGR office becomes the provisioning room for the volunteer crew of Neptune. They’re clearly ordering extra after the crew arrived in Cape Town running very low on supplies. But Thomas’s Mum, Christelle, has taken on the job of leading the provisioning responsibility and spent over 50 hours putting together a spreadsheet detailing their requirements for 60 days at sea. 

Neptune not taking any chances with running out of food in the Southern Ocean. Credit: OGR2023 / Jacqueline Kavanagh

And after 54 days at sea, Explorer AU (28) is less than 150 miles from Cape Town and expected to arrive the day before race start. They will take about seven days to refit and restock before setting off again but the clock starts on sunday! Despite their long slow voyage from the UK, and being 2nd last, they’ve clearly got a sense of humour, if their tweets are anything to go by. 

Haven’t heard anyone on buddy chat in a few days. They’re all probably stuck in the doldrums.

Explorer AU (28)

Sadly Godspeed USA (01) still have over 700nm to go before we can welcome them in.


November 5th: Entrants depart the V&A marina from 10:30hrs local time.

Official start 14:00hrs local time. Race Start Leg 2, Cape Town to Auckland, Table Bay Harbour (Live streamed on OGR Facebook and OGR YouTube).

The race start can be viewed from East Pier, Cape Town Harbour.



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