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A look over the transom - week four of the Portimão Global Ocean Race

09 November, 2008
Boris Herrmann on board Beluga Racer - www.beluga-racer.com
Week four of the Portimão Global Ocean Race has all been about gains, or losses, depending upon your perspective. Gains for the chasing pack of Desafio Cabo de Hornos and Team Mowgli, and a big loss for Beluga Racer as the German team ran slap bang into tactical mine field. Early in the week a low pressure cell spinning off the South American coast gave co-skippers Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme a fast ride on a direct course for Cape Town.

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Boris back in the green

08 November, 2008
Race tracker showing the sudden change of tactic on Beluga Racer.
After an agonising decision four days ago to dive south and out of a mid-Atlantic pickle, the German team of Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme are finally on a fast train to Cape Town. Herrmann and Oehme on Beluga Racer, sailing in a different weather system from the rest of the fleet, suddenly found themselves staring fair and square at a massive area of high pressure directly between themselves and the finish line in Cape Town. There was no way around it; they had tried to cut the corner on the South Atlantic high in order to shave a few miles off the course and come face-to-face with a system that threatened to scuttle their lead.

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The race tightens

06 November, 2008
Boris Herrmann takes a turn on the winch - www.beluga-racer.com
The race has tightened considerably as a weak front sweeps across the South Atlantic bringing strong winds and some superb sailing to the leaders of the Portimão Global Ocean Race. The lead that the German team of Beluga Racer once enjoyed has been halved over the last 36 hours, and while co-skippers Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme are into some good breeze now, they are not completely out of the woods. The area of high pressure that blocked their path toward Cape Town remains in the way forcing Beluga Racer, as well as the chasing three boats, to dive even deeper south.

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Mid-Atlantic match race

05 November, 2008
Sunrise on Beluga Racer - www.beluga-racer.com
The racing continues to be unbelievably close as the Chilean entry Desafio Cabo de Hornos and the British boat, Team Mowgli race neck and neck through the South Atlantic. At each 3-hourly poll the lead changes with the Chileans on top at the 18:20 UTC poll. On top, but barely ahead. Both boats have been averaging over 12 knots and Desafio Cabo de Hornos is just a slim mile in front of Team Mowgli. It’s about as good as it gets for a mid-Atlantic match race.

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Wind up, speeds up and life is good

04 November, 2008
Stern wave from Beluga Racer - www.beluga-racer.com
The wind has kicked in and speeds are up for the chasing pack sailing down the South Atlantic on leg one of the Portimão Global Ocean Race. Another small area of low pressure has spun off the Brazilian coast and it is bringing some prefect sailing conditions to the Chileans aboard Desafio Cabo de Hornos and the British aboard Team Mowgli. The system is just starting to effect the leading solo sailor, Michel Kleinjans aboard Roaring Forty.

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Agony and ecstasy

03 November, 2008
Desafio Cabo de Hornos eating up the miles toward Cape Town - www.desafiocabodehornos.com
Incredibly, after more than three weeks of hard racing Desafio Cabo de Hornos and Team Mowgli find themselves dead even in terms of distance-to-go. Team Mowgli is slightly to the south and west of the Chilean boat with both boats in sight of each other. For a brief moment Sunday the Chileans were ahead but that has again reversed much to the delight of Jeremy Salvesen on board Team Mowgli. “We are out in front again,” he wrote.

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A look over the transom - week three of the Portimão Global Ocean Race

02 November, 2008
Jeremy Salvesen enjoy a mid-Atlantic swim - www.ambitionracing.com
Two words sum up week three of the Portimão Global Ocean Race. Beluga Racer. The German entry, co-skippered by Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme, continue to dominate the race in classic case of the rich getting richer. Since exiting the doldrums Beluga Racer has stretched out a lead that is, barring some disaster, almost insurmountable. At the 21:20 UTC poll on Sunday evening Beluga Racer had extended their lead to almost 500 miles over the chasing double-handers, Desafio Cabo de Hornos and Team Mowgli.

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The rich get richer

01 November, 2008
Sunset from Beluga Racer - www.beluga-racer.com
The boys on Beluga Racer are enjoying a fast ride south while their competitors languish on a sloppy leftover sea. Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme have caught the edge of a low pressure cell and are on a romp toward Cape Town. The tight area of low pressure formed off the coast of South America and has spun out into the South Atlantic on a trajectory that is almost perfect for Beluga Racer.

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Battle Royal mid fleet

31 October, 2008
Roaring Forty in the South Atlantic - www.michelkleinjans.be
There is a Battle Royal developing mid-fleet of the Portimão Global Ocean Race as Team Mowgli holds onto a slim lead over Desafio Cabo de Hornos, and both boats are chasing down the leading single-hander, Michel Kleinjans on Roaring Forty. Since rounding the Recife Gate just 24 hours ago the gap between Jeremy Salvesen and David Thomson on Team Mowgli, and Felipe Cubillos and José Muñoz on Desafio Cabo de Hornos has narrowed to just 4 miles on a distance to go basis with the British team holding a slim advantage.

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Close call for Kleinjans

30 October, 2008
Lenjohn Van Der Wel in a pensive mood - www.vanderwel-racing.com
Original story: Offshore ocean racing is all about keeping it together, both mentally as well as keeping your boat is perfect racing condition for a 7,000 mile leg from Portugal to South Africa. The constant pounding and drenching that the boats get as they race hard to Cape Town takes a toll on them and it’s a full time job for the sailors to manage the ongoing maintenance. Despite due diligence it’s not always possible to foresee a problem as Michel Kleinjans, skipper of Roaring Forty found to his horror.

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Roaring Forty first solo competitor past the Recife Gate

29 October, 2008
Roaring Forty - photo Pit de Jonge
At 14:30 UTC today, Michel Kleinjans aboard his Open 40, Roaring Forty, sailed past the Recife Gate becoming the first singlehanded competitor in the Portimão Global Ocean Race to pass the mandatory waypoint. Kleinjans covered the 3,500 miles from Portimão to the Recife Gate in 16 days at an average speed of 8.6 knots, or 205 miles per day. This is a remarkable performance for a solo sailor on a 40-foot yacht especially considering there were the doldrums to deal with. But then Kleinjans is a remarkable sailor who is living out his life’s dream.

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Beluga Racer first to the Recife Gate

28 October, 2008
Felix Oehme doing a radio interview from onboard Beluga Racer - www.beluga-racer.com
Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme, co-skippers aboard the German yacht Beluga Racer were the first team to pass the mandatory Recife Gate on the first leg of the Portimão Global Ocean Race. In steady winds and with abundant sunshine Beluga Racer passed the gate at 18:56 UTC Tuesday and in doing so claimed the first points of the race. They will receive 2 points for being the first boat to pass the waypoint off the coast of Brazil and now with that obligation behind them they are free to choose the fastest route to Cape Town.

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Clear of the doldrums

27 October, 2008
Nico Budel below on Hayai - www.hayai.nl
All the yachts participating in the Portimão Global Ocean Race are clear of the doldrums and in a free fall to get south as fast as possible. Their next target, a waypoint off the coast of Brazil, a mandatory gate that has to be honored, is coming up quick. The gate, originally the island of Fernando de Noronah, was changed to a waypoint at 08 20S and 033 10W to make it easier for the sailors.

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A look over the transom - Week 2 of the Portimão Global Ocean Race.

26 October, 2008
Beluga Racer at full speed - www.beluga-racer.com
What a difference a week makes. The first week of the Portimão Global Ocean Race was all about loving life. Perfect trade winds, good boat speed (in the right direction) and enough sunshine to bake the the winter blues right out of the Iceland economy. Now, a week later and it’s all turned to mud.

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50 knot knockdown for Kazimir Partners

25 October, 2008
Top German sailors Felix Oehme and Boris Herrmann
A violent doldrum squall handed the South African team of Lenjohn and Peter Van Der Well on Kazimir Partners their first big knockdown of the race. Fortunately them came through unscathed and with sense of humour intact. Peter Van Der Wel described the incident in his log.