We have arrived in Les Sables D'Olonne taking second place

Just a brief message to say we are in Les Sables D'Olonne, even the last
few hours of this Global Ocean Race have been quite intense with a front
sweeping over our heads giving us winds gusting 45 knots this morning,
rather unusual for june. Luckily the sky cleared and the wind started
dropping just before the final approach to Les Sables where we crossed the
finish line around 6pm local time.

I will send an update tomorrow, not it's time to celebrate. Until then a
massive thank you for all the support received in making it here.

Last minute adventures in the final day of the Global Ocean Race

Today is the last full day at sea for us, in around 24 hours we should be
making landfall and reach Les Sables D'Olonne and bring to a conclusion
this epic jurney.

We've been making very good progrees with strong following winds pushing
us for days but the adventure is not quite over yet. Last night as the
front was passing through we were flying towards the finish line with our
medium spinnaker in strong building winds, admittedly we were on the limit
but it was such a joy to see the boat surfing at 15-20 knots that i wished
to take that memory home with me.

All was fine, the front came through with gusts of nearly 40 knots that
would send the boat driving through walls of spray.

Riding the storm - fast progress towards the finish

Progress in the last couple of days has been fantastic.

Sail damage in serious nose dive during storm

I've just had a dinner of rice with a thai green sauce and a peanut bar
for desert, slowly recovering from the busy day. The gale we faced
yesterday left us with a few issues to deal with. We had chosen a route
that kept us away from the very worst of the deepening depression but as
we sailed deeper into the low the wind was steadily above 40 knots and
gusting occasionally at nearly 50 knots.

We had been rather conservative in every step, we furled the solent quite
early on when the wind was still building, unfortunately the furling drum
was wrapped with a spinnaker sheet and it took a minute or two to resolve,
when it came to furling the sail we were hit by a gust and the violent
flogging put a tear in the leach of the sail.

Gale force winds to hit GOR fleet soon

I will certainly remember leg five of the Global Ocean Race as the one
where time expanded, we're not even half way and i feel like i've been on
this boat for 9 consecutive months. Perhaps the anticipation for the
imminent finish of the whole race plays tricks with my mind or perhaps
it's simply because we had some of the most frustrating weather of any
leg...

After leading the early days of this leg we were as predicted overtaken by
Cessna. We managed to keep quite close to them for some time until we very
quickly lost lots of ground.

Fighting to maintain the lead in the Global Ocena Race

It's the fourth day of this fifth and final leg of the Global Ocean Race,
we are still leading but by rapidly narrowing margin, just 4 miles over
Cessna at the last report and it seems highly likely that we'll soon have
to hand over our crown, after giving them a good run for their money we
are floating helplessly in very light winds and I think they'll finally
manage to squeeze past.

After facing tropical storm "Alberto" the first night of the race the
weather has changed in a maze of unpredictable winds, the conditions we
met very often differed substantially from the forecast.

Leading the fleet in the wake of tropical storm Alberto

Last night was tough, in fact some of the worst we've seen in the entire
race.

Global Ocean Race: We are second in Charleston!

Finally here we are, Sergio and I literally just crossed the finish line in
front of Charleston Harbour, it's the middle of the night, just after
midnight local time, the race officials are about to board the boat to check
the engine seals and then we'll be able to drop the sails and motor towards
the marina. Hopefully we're still in time to get our first beer in the
United States but we may have to wait for immigration officials before we're
allowed to get off the boat, they are pretty strict over here with this
stuff...

It took us just under 30 days to sail from Punta del Este to take second
place in Charleston, three days faster than we had anticipated, finishing
within 24 hours of race leader Cessna Citation.

A gentle ride into South Carolina

We have 340 miles left to Charleston, we are pleased with how things have
gone in the past 2 days, after the tactical move to cover Phesheya we feel
a little more in control of our destiny.

Heading left on the chessboard

The last 24 hours have been incredibly frustrating, the whole day we
negotiated the passage of many rain clouds which played havoc with the
wind, on average we had a lot less than predicted by the forecast and
after each downpour we hoped things would stabilise but the never ending
sequence of squalls followed by windholes kept going on and on. Even more
annoyingly, we found an average of 1.5 knots of adverse current, only
after midnight the counter flow seems to have started decreasing.

The total effect of all the above has been dramatic on our advantage over
Phesheya, the miles have evaporated faster than the cold sweat over my
forehead at the thought of being overtaken after all this hard work. We
dropped more than 40 miles of advantage in just one day.

Underway in the fourth leg of the Global Ocean Race

We've been at sea for two days, i wrote an earlier update which somehow
was never sent so here is a summary of our start of the fourth leg of the
Global Ocean Race, Punta del Este Uruguay to Charleston US.

The start in Punta was relatively quiet although I was a bit annoyed with
the spectators boat all over the starting area but all was well once we
got off. Whilst Cessna was first over the line Phesheya took a spectacular
shortcut between a rocky reef and the beach at the southern tip of the
Punta del Este peninsula and the two boats were soon in the lead with
Sec Hayai in third and us trailing behind. We had decided to take things
easy at the start and keep calm as in fact Sergio and I had never sailed
together before (if you discount the 200 meters trip to the fuel dock on
thursday). In fact there hasnt been a single leg where we did a good start
and once more we faced the familiar task of hunting down those ahead and
try to take advantage of any opportunity to pass.

We sailed all day in very light winds with Sec Hayai and Phesheya really
close by and Cessna still visible on the horizon. As Sec Hayai has only
just rejoined the race after the dismasting in Cape Town is very far
behind on the overall points ranking so we decided to go hunting for
Phesheya. Just before sunset we managed to pass them a first time, but to
be fair we were so close that if they had wanted to throw Cape Crisp
apples at us we'd have been an easy target.

During the night we sailed very close to the brazilian shore so we tacked
out with land very closed ahead in about 10 meters of water. Phesheya
followed suit but soon after decided to tack inshore again. We were faced
with a dilemma, tack north again to cover them or follow our own tactics.
After some discussion we decide we didnt want to be cornered with the
shore to one side limiting our options so we continued offshore. During
the next day we saw an opportunity to gain a few miles to the north and
the overall result has been very pleasing, we're now in second place
overall with a decent 15 miles lead over Phesheya.

Unsurprisingly we are trailing Cessna, the only latest generation boat
left in the fleet, who's led since the start, we know we have little
chance to beat them this leg, they will be much faster especially after
the doldrums, but we'll always be ready to take advantage of any
opportunity to tease them which may come. For now our priority is to
preserve our position ahead of Sec Hayai and Phesheya, we are thre
identical boats that came out of the same mould so it's particularly
exciting to have our little race within the race.

As i write the wind has started to increase above 20 knots, there's a
front with up to 30 knots of wind heading our way. After the front we
should be able to enjoy some downwind sailing but there's plenty of
tricky light airs after that so the deck of cards is still thick, with
plenty of hands to be dealt still, we've only just begun!

G'day Marco, Hope the Punta by Kev (not verified)