by Oliver Dewar
Global Ocean Race 2011-12 (GOR) - Conrad Colman and his British co-skipper, Sam Goodchild, crossed the leg two finish line in Wellington Harbour, New Zealand at 08:20:40 GMT (21:20:40 local) on Friday 30 December.
Sam Goodchild and Conrad Colman, Leg 2 winners with Class40 Cessna Citation
The youngest team in the GOR, 28 year-old Kiwi, Colman and 22 year-old Goodchild, finished in first place on their Akilaria RC2 Class40, Cessna Citation after 30 days 22 hours 20 minutes and 40 seconds, netting the maximum of 30 points for leg two.
Colman and Goodchild rounded Cape Farewell at the northern tip of South Island at 14:00 GMT on Thursday (03:00 local on Friday), fighting against headwinds. With Cook Strait set for a 40-50 knot south-easterly blast, potentially gusting to 60 knots, the stretch of water separating South Island from North Island was not a location to be caught in. For the two leading, double-handed Global Ocean Race Class40s, Cessna Citation and BSL, there was no option and life became increasingly tough for the two teams. Fleet leaders Conrad Colman and Artemis Offshore Academy sailor, Sam Goodchild, with Cessna Citation tacked hard in 35 knots of south-easterly wind in extremely ugly seas ahead of the main gale, sailing close to d’Urville Island and Port Gore on the northern tip of South Island before they attacked the 14-mile wide wind funnel at the narrowest part of the strait between Cape Terrawhiti on North Island and Perano Head on Arapawa Island in Marlborough Sound at 06:00 GMT on Friday with 18 miles remaining to the finish line.
One hour later, as the wind built to 45 knots, Cessna Citation barrelled through the 2km-wide entrance to Wellington Harbour between Pencarrow Head and the Miramar Peninsular in torrential rain and grey, rolling waves as daylight faded fast. Colman and Goodchild left the partially exposed Barrett Reef to port and crossed the GOR leg two finish line off Worser Bay on the harbour’s western shore taking victory in leg two. GOR Race Officials boarded Cessna Citation via the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club’s support RIB, congratulated the co-skippers and swiftly checked the engine seal fitted in Cape Town was still intact and the Class40 continued to her mooring in Queen’s Wharf for reunions and celebrations in the relentless Wellington downpour.
Surrounded by friends and family on the wet, slick, wooden quayside, Conrad Colman was one of the happiest men on North Island: 'It’s the legend of the youg’uns!' he laughed. 'It’s absolutely fantastic and it can’t get much better than this,' adds Colman. 'I’ve been wanting to sail in a race into New Zealand since I was six years-old when I watched Fisher & Paykel and Steinlager 2 match race down the coast, so not only racing into New Zealand, but winning is really something special.' His British co-skipper was relieved to be ashore: 'The Indian Ocean isn’t the problem, it’s Cook Strait that’s the issue,' admitted Goodchild with a broad grin. 'The last 12 hours have been pretty horrific.'
One of the really remarkable features of Colman and Goodchild’s partnership is their recent acquaintance: 'We met each other a few days before the start of the race and pretty much shook hands on the start line,' explains Colman. 'We did a lot of things on the fly, but we shared all the responsibilities and it worked really well.' Sam Goodchild agrees: 'We come from two different sailing backgrounds with myself in the Figaro Class and Conrad in the Mini 6.50s and it just worked out well,' he says. 'I never, ever expected that we’d win and it’s a massive bonus.'
For the victorious young duo, the GOR’s leg two began well and Cessna Citation was among the leaders in the early stages as the five Class40s dropped south immediately after leaving Cape Town and skated along the GOR’s Western Indian Ocean Ice Limit at 42S. However, her uninterrupted lead of the GOR fleet began on 9th December shortly before Colman and Goodchild took maximum points at the Celox Sailing Scoring Gate, running north-south and bisecting the Indian Ocean at 069E. As Cessna Citation crossed the scoring gate 220 miles north of the virtual line’s southern limit at Kerguelen Island, Colman and Goodchild, Campagne de France and BSL were separated by just 30 miles and Cessna Citation and BSL immediately dropped sharply south to 48S before the two boats climbed north to reach the western end of the Australian Ice Limit at 45S.
Clearing the eastern end of the limit, Cessna Citation dropped south once again using perfect positioning in a cold front with 35 knots of breeze setting a new GOR Class40 24-hour distance run of 359.1 miles and building a lead of over 245 miles. Despite running into light airs and watching their lead diminish as they approached New Zealand, Colman and Goodchild held their nerve through the horrors of Cook Strait and kept pushing hard until the finish gun.
Mark Blomfield, one of Cessna’s European distributors and a mainstay of Colman’s GOR campaign will be travelling to rendezvous with the boat in Wellington: 'I am very sorry that I’m unable to be in Wellington at the moment to welcome Cessna Citation and a pair of very courageous and skillful young men who make us and Cessna very proud to be their sponsor and supporter,' says Blomfield. 'They have won a long and very arduous leg two in the GOR against some highly experienced crews and it is worthy of note that they only met five days before the start!' he adds. 'Also, our thanks and appreciation to Mike Thrower who is the owner of this fast and very reliable Class40 yacht and who has been a wonderful supporter of the team and the GOR.'
As Conrad Colman, Sam Goodchild and friends and family enjoy celebrations at Rydges Hotel near the GOR Race Pontoons, much of the group’s talk concerns Ross and Campbell Field in second place on BSL who will encounter the full-force of the Cook Strait gale overnight. In the 11:00 GMT position poll, the New Zealand father-and-son duo are 126 miles from the finish line and 12 miles from Cape Farewell where they will turn east and head directly into 40-45 knots for the final, hard miles through the confines of the strait.
GOR leaderboard at 11:00 GMT 30 December:
1. Cessna Citation 30d 22h 20m 40s
2. BSL DTF 126 4.6kts
3. Campagne de France DTL 195 5.6kts
4. Financial Crisis DTL 363 10.6kts
5. Phesheya-Racing DTL 451 4.8kts
GOR cumulative leg one and leg two points excluding leg two finish:
1. BSL: 39 (four points at the Celox Sailing Scoring Gate)
2. Campagne de France: 36 points (five points at the Celox Sailing Scoring Gate)
3. Financial Crisis: 27 (three points at the Celox Sailing Scoring Gate)
4. Cessna Citation: 24 (six points at the Celox Sailing Scoring Gate)
5. Phesheya-Racing: 14 (two points at the Celox Sailing Scoring Gate)
6. Sec. Hayai: six (RTD from leg two)
GOR Points System Explanation:
The time limit at a finishing line (not a scoring gate) will be 12 days after the first boat has finished, after which time any yacht not finished or retired will be scored DNF.
Scoring Gate Points: A multiplication factor of one will apply.
e.g With a six boat fleet – winner receives six points; second place receives five points, third place receives four points, last place receives one point.
Leg Points: A multiplication factor of five will apply.
e.g With a six boat fleet – winner receives 30 points, second place receives 25 points, third place receives 20 points, last place receives five points.
Global Ocean Race website