BSL win first leg of the 2011/12 Global Ocean Race

28 10 2011

At 05:13 on Friday 28th October, Ross and Campbell Field on board BSL, crossed the finish line in Cape Town claiming pole position in leg one of the 2011-2012 Global Ocean Race. After 32 days, 17 hours, 13 minutes and 25 seconds spanning 7,300 miles, the duo are currently the only pair to have finished the race, with Champagne de France expected later today. The father and son duo have been locked in close battle with Campagne de France throughout the race, only taking the lead from their French rivals in the final week, in a spectacular charge for the finish.

Credit: Global Ocean Race

Credit: Global Ocean Race

The fleet set off from Palma just under five weeks ago, on the 25th September, and BSL led the fleet out of the Mediterranean. They maintained their lead for the first five days, however, this was not to be an easy win, and the battle for the front started early on between BSL and Campagne de France as the French pairing took the lead at the end of week one. Ross reflected:

“We had a brilliant start and got away really well. We managed to maintain our lead all the way through the Med but we completely stuffed ourselves. We didn’t sleep and we had to get our heads down which meant we took our eyes off the ball a bit, letting the French through. A lot of the race then became about keeping pace with Campagne de France.”

Once through the Straits of Gibraltar where they negotiated their way through ships and huge trawlers, the fleet caught the trade winds off the North Atlantic to head south towards the equator and the Doldrums.

The start of week three saw little improvement as far as the weather was concerned, fluctuating between periods of rain squalls, souring temperatures and no wind, contrasted to 30 knots requiring constant sail changes. But BSL were closing the gap on Campagne de France so spirits were high – and of course, the New Zealand All Blacks were maintaining their success in the Rugby World Cup – a constant motivator for the Kiwi father and son. As Campbell proudly reported back from the boat, “I have worn my All Blacks shorts since the start – no point in taking them off now!”

Out of the Doldrums it was clear the race was on between BSL and Campagne de France as the match racing pair extended their lead on the rest of the fleet. In the open ocean, Ross and Campbell were focused on increasing boat speed and chasing down Campagne de France, with just five miles between the pair as they came out of the Doldrums.

Better wind conditions welcomed week four and BSL were charging through the Atlantic under water. The sheer performance of the Class40 kept Ross and Campbell entertained, as Ross recalled, “It was like being on an out of control roller coaster”. With boat speed on the up, miles were disappearing between the two leaders. However gusts of 27 knots saw the first major wipe out for BSL of this leg resulting in the boat flat on her side. BSL recovered quickly and with no major damage, powered through. Strong conditions continued with wind speeds of up to 30 knots providing exciting sailing and the battle between BSL and Campagne de France persisted. As Ross said “It’s an incredible battle between the two boats – the best racing in the world!”

On the 22nd October, the latter part of week four, BSL achieved the anticipated and took the lead from their French rivals and in time for the Rugby World Cup final. As Campbell said from the Atlantic “We had a few targets in support of the All Blacks, we vowed to do whatever we could to take the lead for the game on Sunday – tick!” From then on, with less than 1,000 miles to go BSL continued their charge not letting anything stop them in the final days to the finish.

It wasn’t all plain sailing in the home stretch, and less than 48hours and 188 miles from Cape Town, BSL hit another squall testing both her and her crews’ endurance, with wind speeds of up to 48 knots with a constant 30-35 knots for hours on end. BSL wiped out a further two times but true to form picked herself up and continued on. Ross fondly talks about BSL as “the most incredible reaching boat I have ever sailed on – sometimes it’s like she is on rails and just goes faster and faster.” He continued:

“We seem to thrive in the stronger winds, BSL is a tough boat. We pushed her hard the whole way and came away relatively unscathed. I was paranoid we were going to cause some series damage but Campbell was completely in control. His ability to optimize the route and read the weather made the difference in this race. He made some great calls, for example his call to take a southerly route of the Doldrums was spot on. It’s been fanatic sailing.”

On completing the race Ross explained “It’s been tough, but very enjoyable. Thanks everyone for your support and there is more exciting racing to come.”

Credit: Global Ocean Race

Credit: Global Ocean Race

The next leg of the 2011-2012 Global Ocean Race will take the six Class40’s to Wellington in New Zealand, home turf for Ross and Campbell Field, so their determination to win the next leg will be stronger than ever. The second leg is due to get underway on 27th November from Cape Town. Cold, damp wind blowing directly from the Antarctic will be facing the competitors in the Southern Ocean and of course the threat of ice under Australia. But before then, recuperation for both boat and crew is the priority.

For up to date blogs visit BSL on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BSLClass40

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