Having our cake – and eating it

1 02 2012

There is a competition on board to establish who has made the best cake.  

It’s between my  mother-in-law, Maureen (Xmas cake), our friend Janine (Xmas cake) and her daughter Jamie (Chocolate slice).  

I want to eat it all now (to reduce weight on the boat), but Campbell, being his organised self, wants to spread it out so the winner won’t be announced till later on in the leg.  

We have sampled all the pieces, but not enough to form an opinion. Sorry. The initial sampling would show its going to be close. They are all bloody beautiful.  

Jan, my wife, was invited to submit an entry, but she made a cake for the opposition – Halvard and Miranda on Campagne de France.  I tried to slip some sleeping pills into the cake mix but got caught!!!  

That reminds me of a very famous old  story. A Spanish Whitbread boat skipper from a previous race was pissing his crew off so much they dropped sleeping pills into his coffee!

Not much happening on board. Same old same old: eat, sail and a little bit of sleep. Heading down south at the moment. Our main opposition are following us, but we have managed to get at least 30 miles more southing, so we hope it will pay off.

Its a complicated weather package to get back to the ice gate.  

Speak soon,  Ross


Trust us, we know what we’re doing

31 01 2012

Hi everyone, a quick note.

You would have seen our move overnight. Don’t panic, we think we know what we are doing: we are investing in the future.

We spent yesterday and last night heavy running alongside our French mates, Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron, pushing hard and no sleep. It was very enjoyable, but we have now split from the main fleet. Campbell has been studying weather maps for hours.

We are going to try and catch up on some sleep today and some food.

Speak soon,



Note: Buckley Systems has gybed away from the main pack and is diving south. Main rivals Mabire and Merron have kept tracking in a more easterly direction. The move has cost Buckley Systems the lead at this stage, but it appears they are intending to skirt south of a light wind zone lurking ahead.

Getting back into racing routines

31 01 2012

Morning sports fans, a little delayed in the first blog for Leg 3 of the GOR. It has taken us a while to settle back into life on board the boat, both of us feeling pretty under the weather until this morning – much like a pretty powerful hangover. Lack of sleep, poor discipline in eating (and in my case anything that was eaten pretty quickly reappeared over the back of the boat). Headaches and grumpiness were the status quo for the first 24 hours on board. We are putting that down to caffeine withdrawals following the almost hourly dose of long blacks and flat whites from the Empire cafe in Chaffers Marina in Wellington.

In all, it was a great stopover in ‘Windytown’. We had a great time and felt superbly looked after and welcomed. The local interest in the event was very encouraging. Can’t even start thanking everyone enough for their cheerful helpfulness, and general support. A great sendoff too – hopefully all the spectators enjoyed it.

Start day brought mixed emotions – yet again bidding farewell to loved ones while also looking forward to charging out to sea. In my case now the distance to my family is reducing rather than increasing …

We had a pretty shocking start. Sorry about that – a bit of mistiming on time at the boat end of the line. However, we recovered pretty quickly and had a nice exit to the harbour. Then there was a brutal awakening to the Cook Strait and Pacific Ocean.

It seems quite some time ago we were bashing and crashing upwind away from New Zealand. A light first night at sea in very close company with the French and Cessna, has kept us on our toes.

Today we are in good shape: Halvard and Miranda, Campagne de France, are 0.75nm to leeward. We are both running in 30 knots under main and big jib. We have had the debate about going for a spinnaker, but for now we are quite comfortable and are reeling them in.

Cessna are about 5nm off our transom. They speared off overnight. We suspect they have sail issues, but we know how hard they can push, so have a wary eye over our shoulders.

The future for this leg is pretty straight forward over the next couple of days, but then it becomes very complex.

Chatham islands are about 50nm off our port bow. With the sparkling sea and brilliant sunshine we have today it must be a wonderful holiday destination!

Way overdue for a two-hour sleep (amazing how quickly you can roll back into the schedule; it takes far longer to get back to a normal on land routine.)

So signing off,


Heading for Cape Horn

30 01 2012

With more than 6,000 miles of the planet’s most hostile ocean ahead of them, the Global Ocean Racing fleet left Wellington in unusually benign conditions on Leg 3 of their voyage around the world.

Despite its daunting reputation for storm force winds and massive waves, overall race leaders Ross and Campbell Field of Team Buckley Systems were looking forward to the Southern Ocean blast to Cape Horn.

“It is fantastic going around the Horn,” said Ross Field, who has sailed past the fabled landmark three times before, twice on his way to victories in the Whitbread Round the World Race.

“It is one of the things you look forward to as a yachtsman.

The father and son pair are leading the race on points after scoring a first and second in the first two legs of the race.

At the start of the third leg today, their Class40 yacht, Buckley Systems, was back in top condition after a month of maintenance. “We have made some changes to the boat and added some new sails,” said Ross. “I am really looking forward to getting out to sea and back into race mode again.”

For his son, Campbell, this will be a first experience of Cape Horn. “I know we will face some pretty tough conditions in the Southern Ocean before we are even halfway there,” he said.

“Then, if we have extreme conditions at the Horn it will be a matter of keeping our eyes open and playing it safe.”

The five 12m yachts competing in this leg of the race left Wellington at 3pm today in light conditions, with a southerly wind change forecast for later in the day.

As the yachts ghosted out of the harbour, Buckley Systems set up close to the leeward shore, clearing the distinctive black and white lighthouse at Point Halswell close enough to exchange quiet conversation with the fishermen on the rocky promontory.

Shortly after the start, their inshore course forced them to put in a tack behind the rest of the fleet, costing them distance.

But, as they cleared the harbour entrance, they had worked their way up into second place. Ahead lie more than 6,000 miles across the Southern Ocean, around Cape Horn and up the east coast of South America to Punta del Este, Uruguay.

“We expect to take about 25 days,” said Campbell. “Put it this way, that is all we have food for.”


30 01 2012


From Wellington Team Buckley Systems face more than 6,000 miles of hostile ocean on Leg 3 of the Global Ocean Race.

Recovering slowly

3 01 2012

Sitting at a coffee bar in Hong Kong airport on my way back to the UK, all of a sudden Leg 2 seems so long ago. It has only been a few days since we got in, a thorough going over the boat, writing a work list, a few meetings, thermals gone through the wash three times to eliminate all traces of the last 5 weeks (sorry mum for tripling your utility bill for the month), and a nice lunch with family before heading to the airport.

Both Ross and I are feeling the physical demands of the last leg, mainly due to the bruises and bumps – these Class 40’s never really seem to stay still. Thank you Andrew for giving up your last afternoon of holiday to treat two weary sailors.  Andrew Baunton – an old school friend who thankfully is a physiotherapist – shameless plug here for Manurewa Sports Physio – seems to take some pleasure out of inflicting pain on his old friends but am assured he takes more care of his clients. Helps especially as I am now confined to a 747 for 24 hours – should be a walk in the park after 32 days on a 40 footer, but there are a few more people about and the food is not as good, so stiff shoulders and leg cramps are setting in…

Finally had a stewardess ask me about the black eye. I can only imagine what the hundreds of other people are thinking when they see it – good NYE eh? – how was the other guy? – what ‘door’ did you walk into? – When I told her, she seemed pretty dubious and probably thought it was one of the more unique pickup lines she has had as a stewie. Me: “…well there I was in a howling gale on the bow of a small racing boat after 30 days at sea battling the elements and the worst that the southern ocean could throw at us and I was wrestling with a storm sail and ….”.

Stewardess: “…ah, OK”. Thinking to herself “twat”.

Finally there (here)

2 01 2012

After what is quite possibly the hairiest 8 hours or so on a yacht crossing the Cook Straits and diving for cover under in the lee of the north island on New Years eve, we have arrived in Wellington. Sorry for the complete lack of updates, but it was a pretty intense period before we got in, and since we have arrived it has been a bit like landing on a different planet.

We decided to sail across the straits, through the howling gale and huge seas that Ross writes about below, as the weather models said that there would be less breeze closer to the North Island shore. I set a waypoint at about where the wind would ease to 25 knots which would feel like a gentle breeze after what we were in, then we both hoped like hell the weather models were right. We are always reluctant to trust the weather models too much, but sure enough they were bang on and before we knew it we were beating upwind in somewhere between 14 and 20 knots (lost all the wind gear remember), and getting right into the coast.

Time to catch up on a little sleep then, an hour each at a time. We were both exhausted, as this was the second ‘last night at sea’ where we push though without sleep to get there faster. I was fascinated by the lights on the coast, envious that behind every light was someone nice and warm, doing whatever they normally do on a Saturday night. Then all hell broke loose, lights flashing everywhere, fireworks in the sky, and it took me quite a few moments to realist that Local time was 0000 on 01/01/2012. I woke Ross about 15 minutes later to give me a break, wished him Happy New Year, we shook hands and he offered to make me a cup of tea.

Yesterday had a beautiful coastal sail down to Wellington, marvelling at the landscape, and into a very warm welcome by Wellington, members of the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club, family and friends and a few confused looking locals passing by wondering why two smelly tramps standing on the dock were getting so much attention.

A few simple words can sum up leg 2: cold, wet, damp, grey, windy. However racing through the Southern Ocean is one of the most exhilarating things I have ever done, and will possibly ever do. The mind is a clever organ, have almost forgotten the sensation of freezing cold, wet feet.

Over the last 24 hours Ross and I with a huge amount of help from Jan, Colin, Magnus, Tracy, Mike and others who were press-ganged into action, have the boat scrubbed from top to bottom, all the inspections done and the worklist written. We are sitting in the hotel in Wellington, waiting to catch a flight to Auckland, Ross to head on up to Waipu, and I have a flight back home to the UK. We both need a good rest, our poor bodies have taken a bit of a battering, nothing a little time on the sofa with the remote control in one hand won’t fix.