At 15:00 hours local time today, the GLOBE40 skippers took the start of the 7th and penultimate leg of the event, which will lead the fleet to the island of Grenada in the West Indies.
The crews cast off from the brand-new Recife Marina to make for the start line, in the middle of the harbour, just off the famous Marco Zero Square, Recife’s historic centre, where giant screens have already been installed for the upcoming carnival.
In this next 2,000-mile leg, which kicks off with a passage through the doldrums, the competitors are set to be swept along to their destination in the West Indies by the E’ly trade wind. On paper then, a fairly simple leg awaits, though it comes with the risk of heavy shipping along the coast and fierce competition, with just 3 points separating the top two crews in the overall ranking: the Dutch on SEC HAYAI and the Americans on AMHAS, who won the previous leg. Meantime, Japanese team MILAI Around The World is making a concerted effort to complete repairs in Argentina and rejoin the race.
Slipping along in the trade wind.
The racetrack for this next leg will stretch across Brazil, from offshore of Fortaleza in northern Recife to Belem at the gateway to the Amazon River, French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana, Venezuela, and finally Trinidad and Tobago. A prohibited zone has been set up across the entire course, making it impossible for the competitors to hug the coast due to the abundance of debris swept along offshore of the Amazon River and to the heightened security risk.
As with every leg, Christian Dumard shares with us his weather analysis for the upcoming course: “The Globe 40 competitors will set sail from Recife in a light E’ly wind with numerous squalls forecast, together with the risk of storms. They’ll cross the western extension of the doldrums on Monday 6 and Tuesday 7 February. The doldrums is not very active along the Brazilian coast. A few squalls await them, as well as a few light patches, but it won’t be a case of long windless days and huge storm zones, as was the case during their descent of the Atlantic further over to the east. Once they’ve passed Cape Calcanhar in north-east Brazil, the ENE’ly trade wind should gradually pick up to 13-20 knots. At that point, the fleet will have a long downwind sprint to the finish on starboard tack, a few squalls still making their presence felt. The current will also play a pivotal role. It may reach 2 to 3 knots in places as it carries them westwards towards their goal.”
Recife: a major Brazilian leg
With the atmosphere already spicing up in Brazil with the first carnival in 2 years fast approaching, Recife certainly delivered in every respect for the GLOBE40 and its skippers. Enjoying daily temperatures of 35 degrees Recife showcases many jewels, from the multicoloured and eyepopping delights of north-east Brazil, to the fabulous Portuguese-inspired buildings in its historic centre, its upcoming Olinda Carnival, the architectural marvels of its Unesco World Heritage Site, its 20 km of beach at Boa Viagem, and its stunning anchorages just an hour’s drive from the city.
The past few days have also been an opportunity for the GLOBE40 to inaugurate the Recife Marina, infrastructure of very high quality with some 250 berths and a hotel, the whole premises due to officially open later this year. Though Recife and its large Iata Club Cabanga have already organised the biggest international regatta in Brazil, Refeno, which races to the Fernando De Noronha Islands, the hosting of an international offshore race in the city is yet another first. Given the great welcome, which saw large crowds visiting the boats, together with a fine tradition of sailing in Brazil in the Olympic Series, rumours abound that there may well be a Brazilian crew in the second edition of the GLOBE40. Ultimately, the only regret then was that this stopover was all too short…
The competitive pressures hotting up with just 2 legs to go
Too short to do justice to the wealth of tourist attractions in Recife, the stopover also required a quick turnaround to get the Class40s match-fit again after the 3,800 miles that made up leg 6. Indeed, with a week-long stopover in Recife for the first team to make the finish, and just 5 days for the last, the intensity of this event and the competitive commitment required are second to none. Furthermore, there are now just 3 coefficients still to be awarded, with leg 7 to Grenada counting as coefficient 1, and the return sprint across the Atlantic to Lorient a coefficient 2.
Equally, there are only just 3 points between SEC HAYAI and AMHAS, who boast 27 and 30 points respectively. As we saw in the previous leg, second place in elapsed time went to GRYPHON SOLO 2 (58 points) with WHISKEY JACK (63 points) some 36 hours astern, so the battle is fierce right across the fleet. What’s more, the competitive pressures also extend to MILAI Around The World (36 points), with skipper Masa Suzuki sharing the latest on their situation: “We’re going to try to set sail from Mar Del Plata on around 15 February. The damage has been more extensive than we could have imagined, but we have a great technical team here to carry out repairs. The Mar Del Plata watersports club is also being incredibly supportive. MILAI is still on track to complete the circumnavigation of the globe. We aren’t giving up and we can’t wait to see everyone again in Lorient.”
by Sirius Events