Global Ocean Race: Lead change already in the match race for Gibraltar

Cessna Citation - Global Ocean Race 2011-12

The early leader in the Global Ocean Race, Buckley Systems (Campbell and Ross Field) have lost their 10 nm lead in the round the world race.

After looking set to ease away from the rest of the six boat fleet, Buckley Systems was the first to make the break north to stay in favourable winds and enjoyed a lead of almost 8nm over Campagne de France (Halvard Mabire and Mirand Merron) with Cessna Citation (Conrad Colman and Hugo Ramon) half mile away.

Buckley Systems along with Campagne de France and a third boat, Phesheya Racing (Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire) struck out to the north dropping a little in boatspeed, while Cessna Citation hung south holding a knot more boatspeed, before she too, took the north course option.

High level screen shot showing the course change made about 24 hours previously - Global Ocean Race 0600hrs, 27 September 2011

24 hours earlier the wind prediction and weather routing systems gave the competitors two options - a north course towards the south of Spain or a more southerly course to give the Class40 yachts, sailed by two crew, the optimum route for the first significant waypoint in the race - the Straits of Gibraltar.

For a time Buckley Systems held on, with Cessna Citation staying on a lower course, and then picked up speed to be rattling along almost 2kts faster than the father and son crew from New Zealand.

The Fields tried to get down to cover Colman and Ramon, but weren't going to be able to get across and turned back as the speed differential went up to around 4kts - indicating that Cessna Citation was in much stronger winds and from their course were able to sail a more direct angle to Gibraltar - cutting the corner on the Fields who in tum were struggling to stay ahead of the two other boats in their part of the course.

Close up view - Global Ocean Race 0600hrs, 27 September 2011

As their courses converged as they neared the Spanish coast, Colman and Ramon stayed to leeward but the damage was done.

Eventually the two converged and at the latest sked at 0600UTC, Cessna Citation enjoyed a lead of 2.2nm over the Fields and a lead of almost 10nm over Campagne de France.

However there is plenty of work ahead for the weather routers and naviguessers before they reach the Straits of Gibraltar and head for the first stopover in Capetown, South Africa.

Plenty of weather routing decisions ahead - Global Ocean Race 0600hrs, 27 September 2011

According to the prognosis from www.predictwind.com!Predictwind, winds are expected to lighten in the morning before 0900hrs and then increase to 15kts or more for the rest of the day. The two winds will clock around to the NE during the day and will settle in 17-18kts from 3.00pm, sending the boats to Gibraltar at a speed of around 12kts. Based on a standard Class40 polar (speed profile for a given wind strength and angle) they should reach the landmark at the entrance to the Mediterranean around 6.00pm on the 27th September UTC

Campbell and Ross Field before the start of the Global Ocean Race
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From on board Buckley Systems, Campbell Field writes:

Day 1 and we are off like a robbers dog. Great start and felt very good to lead around the first mark.

We got hauled in towards the exit to the Bay of Palma, made a slight tactical mistake (we were hoping the other guys were going to follow us) so we consolidated and came back with them and they slowly overhauled us in the dying breeze – not so easy on this barge in those conditions. We managed to spot the new breeze first, not sure why the others didn’t take up on it with us, maybe because it meant a tack and course 180 degrees from the mark…

Anyway, we hooked into it and we are off, charging along, big gear up and loving every minute.

24 hour high – finally starting this fantastic event. Low – bidding farewell to my wonderful wife and beautiful son for the next 6 to 7 weeks.