Attrition begins for Ocean Globe Race
Published on November 17th, 2023
(November 17, 2023) – After the second stage of the 2023-24 Ocean Globe Race got underway November 5 for the 7250 nm course from Cape Town, South Africa to Auckland, New Zealand, the reality of the race is beginning to hit the 14-boat fleet.
Attrition has begun as the Swan 51 Godspeed (USA) has retired, while the Swan 57 Explorer (AUS) has had to return to Cape Town to deal with a lost headsail and damaged rigging. The South African entrant Sterna (Swan 53) has yet to start as they have been hauled out for work on its rudder.
The remaining 11 yachts are now surfing down the 5-metre waves in the Indian Ocean, with the iconic French 73ft Bermudian ketch, Pen Duick VI (FRA) skippered by Marie Tablarly leading the pack. But the Translated 9 (ITA), which took first in IRC ranking in Leg 1, is just behind, and both yachts look forward to again reaching Auckland as they did in the 1977 Whitbread race (Translated 9 was known then as ADC Accutrac.)
As to why Godspeed withdrew, the crew recognized the significance of its unexpected challenges. “With a set back in our timeline due to the cracked boom and crew changes in Cape Town, we find it necessary to prioritize the safety of our crew and the integrity of our vessel,” explained skipper Taylor Grieger.
For Sterna, they had discovered their rudder was leaking. “We suspected that the rudder bracket mounted on the outside of the boat had some movement in it that resulted in leakage both between the seal and the rudder stock, as well as between the hull and the rudder tube,” explained crew member Gerrit Louw.
“We diverted to Mossel Bay to haul out, but it’s a fishing harbor with very limited support so it’s a very antiquated and interesting haul out. They basically lift you up and then hammer all these old teak blocks under the boat for support. We have boat builders from Cape Town coming to do the work and we’re taking no risks with this one. We want to ensure it’s perfect for when we are back in the southern oceans.”
After three days of racing, Explorer returned to Cape Town, which now adds to their delay of a week as they finished Leg 1 in Cape Town just 24 hours before the start of Leg 2.
“The famous Cape Doctor, also known as a South East wind, was blowing at around 40 to 45 knots in Table Bay,” said skipper Mark Sinclair. “We got underway with appropriate sail setup and were promptly becalmed in the lee of Table Mountain. We bobbed around for a few hours and eventually made our way out of the wind shadow progressing from full sail, down through the gears until they were well reefed with three tucks in the mainsail, a furled away genoa and a staysail.
“The boat was sailing comfortably as we made our way south towards the Cape of Good Hope where the conditions became more and more boisterous with the wind closer to 60 knots. While the crew were adjusting the sails to the conditions, we noticed that the genoa had a small section unfurled and while resolving this to reduce wind age upfront, the furling line parted and the genoa partially unfurled.
“We took the most effective action to remedy this by turning downwind to put the sail in the lee of the mainsail but unfortunately, the genoa unfurled completely and was flogging wildly. At the same time, the genoa halyard parted and the sail started working its way down the foil of the furler. Despite our best efforts, the crew were unable to retrieve the sail which had mostly dropped into the water next to the boat and we were left with no option but to cut it away.
“With the situation under control, the crew gathered to assess their options and after much deliberation, it was decided that the potential damage to the forestay which we could not assess inside the foil, and the damaged furler, were sufficient motivation to make a speedy return to Cape.”
Work is underway on Explorer and they intend to get sailing again soon. Both Explorer and Sterna are now out of the rankings for Leg 2 as outside assistance is not allowed under the Notice of Race. This means they are still in the event but need to make their way to Auckland where they will continue racing for Legs 3 and 4.
The first boats are expected into Auckland in the middle of December.
The 2023-24 Ocean Globe Race (OGR) is a fully crewed, retro race, in the spirit of the 1973 Whitbread Round the World Race, marking the 50th Anniversary of the original event. Racing without computers, GPS, and high-tech materials, they navigate with sextants and paper charts. Seven of the fleet are former Whitbread competitors.
Starting in Southampton (UK) on September 10, the OGR is a 27,000-mile sprint around the Globe, divided into four legs that passes south of the three great Capes. The fleet is divided in three classes with stop-overs in Cape Town, South Africa; Auckland, New Zealand; and Punta del Este, Uruguay before returning to Southhampton in April 2024.
2023-24 Ocean Globe Race:
FIRST LEG: Start 10 September 2023. 7670 miles. First boats finish 9-21 October 2023.
SECOND LEG: Start 5 November 2023. 7250 miles. First boats finish 14-23 December 2023.
THIRD LEG: Start 14 January 2024. 4980 miles. First boats finish 9-18 February 2024.
FOURTH LEG: Start 5 March. 6550 miles. Finish 1-10 April 2024.