Global Ocean Race - Teams prepare for race start

Busy work schedule for the GOR teams in Palma - Global Ocean Race 2011-12
Global Ocean Race 2011-12 (GOR) is a double-handed, round the world race for Class40 yachts starting on 25th September. The race is a total of approximately 30,000 nautical miles.

With 11 days remaining until the race start the five teams already based in the event’s start port of Palma, Mallorca, continue the build-up process to the start gun on Sunday.

On Friday, the GOR Race Village officially opened in Palma Marina and the teams are already in a rhythm of pre-race preparation for the 7,000 mile Leg one from Palma to Cape Town, South Africa.

The Conrad Colman Ocean Racing team of New Zealand yachtsman, Conrad Colman, and local sailor, Hugo Ramón, has been based in Mallorca since early this summer with their new Akilaria RC2. 'We’re waiting for the race sails and the safety kit to arrive,' explained Colman on Monday. 'We’ve then got a full week of commissioning the boat and decorating the hull in time for the prologue race this weekend,' continued the 27 year-old Kiwi. His 26 year-old, Mallorcan co-skipper has a different approach: 'I’ll just watch Conrad doing all the work,' joked Ramón. 'Watching other people work is a very popular Spanish spectator sport!'

The South African duo Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire with Phesheya-Racing have been in Palma for three weeks and with an 18-month period during which the duo has been totally focused on the GOR, their 2006 Akilaria Class40 is in peak condition. 'There’s nothing very dramatic left for us to do,' confirms 29 year-old Phillippa Hutton-Squire. 'All the boxes are ticked now we have been scrutineered and all the safety checks are complete,' she adds. The GOR’s Co-Race Director, Sylvie Viant, spent two days meticulously checking that Phesheya-Racing complied with the Class40 Rules, the GOR’s rule requirements and the Offshore Special Regulations. 'It’s a real relief that the safety checks are complete,' admits Hutton-Squire.

As their fellow GOR competitors filed into Palma, it has been enjoyable reuniting with old friends. 'It’s great that everyone is starting to gather and there’s a really good atmosphere here,' says Nick Leggatt. The team is undertaking all work on the boat themselves – with practical assistance from Hutton-Squire’s mother – and are operating on a tight budget: 'We’re still looking for a title sponsor for the campaign, so we’re running on a shoe string at the moment,' adds Leggatt.

Marco Nannini and Paul Peggs arrived in Palma just under a fortnight ago. Paul Peggs sailed their 2007 Akilaria from Gosport on the English South Coast to Palma with a delivery crew: 'The trip down here went OK,' says Peggs. 'We’ve had to make some repairs to the boom, but there aren’t many jobs left to do on the boat,' adds the 55 year-old professional sailor. Both Nannini and Peggs are running a tight campaign financially and have opted to sleep on their boat rather than rent an apartment: 'We’ve yet to secure substantial funding,' Nannini confirms. 'It is a struggle, but as long as there is no major catastrophe at sea, we’ll be OK,' says the 33 year-old, London-based Italian who continues to hunt for sponsorship in the pre-race, build-up period.

At 04:00 on Thursday morning, the New Zealand, father-and-son duo of Ross and Campbell Field sailed their three year-old, Verdier-design BSL into the Marina de Mallorca following the team’s delivery and GOR qualifying voyage from Lymington on the English South Coast. 'We’re nearly there,' confirms Whitbread and Volvo Ocean Race veteran, Ross Field. 'We’re making some minor alterations to the sails, but it’s nothing major,' he explains. 'During the Fastnet Race we were able to have a proper look at the sails and the only real re-cut is being made to The Solent. Other than that, we’ve got to adjust the food packages for Leg one and we’re good to go.'

Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron arrived with their new Pogo 40S² Campagne de France early on Saturday morning and have a team of friends helping with pre-Leg one preparation. 'There are plenty of different jobs to complete,' Mabire explains. The duo took delivery of the hull and deck in September last year and have fitted-out the boat themselves. 'It’s a brand new boat, so there are quite a few things we have to finish,' he says. 'We had good conditions on the delivery from Cherbourg to test every part of the boat, so we’re very happy with the performance and all the systems,' adds Mabire.

The final entry, Nico Budel’s team with Sec. Hayai, are currently en route to Mallorca, having battled the fierce conditions that swept across Europe since the team left Holland nine days ago.

The GOR’s Race Director, Josh Hall, is immensely proud of the GOR teams: 'It is so impressive that six teams have made it to the start,' says Hall who has witnessed the list of confirmed GOR entries reduced from 19 boats since early this summer. 'Clearly, it is disappointing for the teams and for the GOR Race Organisation that the overall fleet total has been reduced, but it shows the commitment, ingenuity and sheer determination of the skippers that they have made it to Palma.' The professional approach to the GOR by the existing teams is also outstanding. 'Across the fleet, whether well-funded, privately funded or partially sponsored, all the skippers have applied their knowledge, experience and skills to their projects,' Hall continues. 'There’s also a very civilised culture of sharing information between the teams which is very much in the spirit of Class40,' he adds.

Global Ocean Race website