Beluga Racer new leader in Portimão Global Race

Boris Herrmann and Giovanni Soldini discuss first leg tactics before the start - Portimao Global Ocean Race 2008

There is yet another lead change in the Portimão Global Ocean Race. Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme on the German entry Beluga Racer have overtaken the Chilean boat Desafio Cabo de Hornos to take the lead for the first time since the October 12 start.

Herrmann and Oehme have sailed a tactically superb course and thier patience and perseverance have finally paid off. At the 06:20 UTC poll this morning Beluga Racer held a seven mile lead over Desafio Cabo de Hornos.

Beluga Racer's tactical advantage started two days ago as they lined up to transit the Canary Islands. Choosing to sail between the high islands of Tenerife and Gran Canaria, Beluga Racer got a much needed boost as the wind funnelled through the narrow gap, the venturi effect increasing their wind speed as they sailed downwind with full sails set.

That boost brought them closer to Desafio Cabo de Hornos who had transited the Canaries further east between Gran Canaria and Feurteventura. Yesterday morning both boats, with Michel Kleinjans on Roaring Forty not far behind looked to be enjoying perfect sailing conditions, however overnight Felipe Cubillos on Desafio Cabo de Hornos was forced to gybe away from the African coast. It was this gybe, on a less than favorable course, that cost him his lead. He had no choice as the African coast loomed directly ahead and there was a risk of running out of wind as the Sahara Desert sucked the breeze from coastal waters.

While these three boats are having a grand old time at the front of the fleet, Granddad Nico Budel is also enjoying himself mid-fleet. Choosing a conservative route between the smaller islands of Gomera and Hierro, two of the westernmost islands in the group, Budel has been able to sail a dead straight course south since gybing yesterday morning. Unfortunately the wind died overnight and at the 06:20 UTC poll Hayai was only sailing at 3 knots.

The westernmost boat in the fleet Kazimir Partners was sailing at 9 knots while to the east their British rivals on Team Mowgli were enjoying near perfect sailing averaging close to 11 knots. Unfortunately for Jeremy Salvesen and David Thomson it looks like they will have to gybe away from the African coast later today.

As an interesting side note. David Thomson's brother Alex is the skipper of the stunning Open 60 Hugo Boss. Earlier this morning while waiting for the locks in Les Sable des Olonne to open Hugo Boss was hit by a French fishing boat. The boat is holed and the mast came down. Alex was preparing for the Vendee Globe, a gruelling solo, nonstop lap of the planet due to start on November 9.

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