Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire take fifth place in Leg 1 with Class40 Phesheya-Racing
At 15:14:30 GMT (04:14:30 local) on Wednesday 4 January, the South African double-handed team of Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire took fifth place in Leg 2 of the Global Ocean Race with Class40 Phesheya-Racing, completing the 7,000 mile course from Cape Town to Wellington, New Zealand, in 36 days 05 hours 14 minutes and 30 seconds.
On New Year’s Day, the South African duo of Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire and Class40 Phesheya-Racing began sailing parallel to the coast of South Island, New Zealand, for the final 600 miles to the double-handed Global Ocean Race (GOR) Leg 2 finish line in Wellington. South-westerly breeze of between 25-30 knots pushed the fifth-placed GOR Class40 along the coast making the South African’s best speeds of the entire 7,000-mile voyage across the Indian Ocean with a 24-hour run of 273 miles. At 01:00 GMT on Wednesday morning, Leggatt and Hutton-Squire rounded Cape Farewell for a fast run through Cook Strait, putting in their final gybe of the voyage off d’Urville Island at 08:00 GMT and rounding the final headland of the voyage at Cape Terawhiti on the North Island coast four hours later.
In the moonless and cloudless pre-dawn, Phesheya-Racing ‘turned left’ out of Cook Strait between the Barrett Reef buoy and Pencarrow Head for a final, bone-shaking beat in 45 knots under triple-reefed main and staysail. Leaving the exposed and jagged rocks of Barrett Reef in a mass white water to port, Leggatt and Hutton-Squire crossed the finish line off Worser Bay and continued under sail, hardening up around Point Halswell and Point Jerningham before finding some shelter off the city of Wellington. “We thought Leg 2 was really, really tough,” confirmed 44 year-old Nick Leggatt as the South African sailors moored alongside the GOR race pontoons. “But when the handle on the kettle broke it was even tougher!” adds his 28 year-old co-skipper, Phillippa Hutton-Squire. “That happened this morning and since then, things have gone downhill!” continues Leggatt with a broad smile. “We couldn’t have tea with fruitcake and it’s all been a disaster,” Hutton-Squire explains, laughing. The lack of refreshment in the final hours of Leg 2 overshadowed the broach that Phesheya-Racing underwent shortly before entering Wellington Harbour: an event that ripped the radar from the Class40’s carbon fibre mast, but barely merits comment following 36 days of hardship and storms in the Roaring Forties.
The South Africans navigated a successful course across the Indian Ocean’s high latitudes taking a similar, northerly option as Marco Nannini and Hugo Ramon on Financial Crisis: “Financial Crisis definitely had it worse than us,” Leggatt believes. “When we realised we weren’t keeping up with the cold fronts, we figured the next best option was to find the route with the least hard work.” As Phesheya-Racing left the restrictions of the GOR’s western Indian Ocean Ice Limit at 42S after nine days of racing, Leggatt and Hutton-Squire dropped down to 44S having crossed the Celox Sailing Scoring Gate north of Kerguelen as a series of fronts swept through the fleet. Skating along the Australian Ice Limit at 45S, the duo maintained this latitude until ascending towards New Zealand through the Tasman Sea. “The strongest wind we had the whole time was 47 knots, which compared to what Marco and Hugo had was nothing,” confirms Leggatt. “It was never that extreme, but just started getting slightly monotonous and wet and cold.”