by Oliver Dewar
The four Global Ocean Race (GOR) Class40s, currently racing on leg five from Punta del Este to Charleston, have been picking their way through windless bubbles due south of Rio de Janeiro with the boats furthest offshore initially finding the best breeze.
GOR Race Tracker at 15:00 GMT 07/04/12 - Global Ocean Race 2011-12
With light headwinds forecast and working against the southerly-flowing Brazil Current, the passage around Cape Frio could potentially compress the fleet and will provide difficult conditions.
'These past 24 hours have been absolutely glorious!' reports Nick Leggatt from Phesheya-Racing. 'Spinnaker up all the way and making good speeds,' he adds as the South African Class40 produced the highest speed in the fleet early on Saturday morning GMT. 'At first, the wind was a little shifty, necessitating a couple of short gybes which lost us a few miles, but as the rain squalls moved away the wind settled in from the SW and we started to make really good speeds northwards.'
Averaging over 11 knots for eight hours, Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire reeled-in the team on Sec. Hayai, finally overhauling Nico Budel and Erik van Vuuren as the Dutch duo made a long gybe on starboard hunting for stronger breeze offshore. 'In the evening we reefed the main and drove the boat quite hard, eventually being rewarded by over-taking Sec.Hayai again,' Leggatt confirms. 'Dawn is approaching now and the wind is decreasing and backing, as forecast,' he wrote early on Saturday. 'We anticipate a slow day ahead and a tricky passage through some light winds before we make it to the south western edge of the SE Trade Winds,' he predicts.
While the move offshore by Sec. Hayai briefly favoured Budel and Van Vuuren, speeds throughout the fleet have dropped to below ten knots as the wind begins to slacken and back to the north-east with the fleet compressing by 20 miles over the past 24 hours. At 15:00 GMT on Saturday, fleet leaders, Conrad Colman and Scott Cavanough with Cessna Citation, have extended their lead over second-placed Marco Nannini and Sergio Frattaruolo on Financial Crisis by 15 miles in 24 hours, while 20 miles further south, Phesheya-Racing in third has Sec. Hayai eight miles off her starboard beam.
GOR leaderboard at 15:00 GMT 7/4/12:
1. Cessna Citation DTF 4745 9.5kts
2. Financial Crisis DTL 34.6 9.7kts
3. Phesheya-Racing DTL 54 9.3kts
4. Sec. Hayai DTL 62.5 9.6kts
Global Ocean Race website