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Trio triumph in Leg 3 of McIntyre Ocean Globe

by Ocean Globe Race 19 Feb 01:52 UTC
19 February 2024

The classic Swan 55, flew three different sponsor spinnakers in the approach, while filming with a drone to capture the moment keeping their partners happy © Don McIntyre / OGR2023

It was a rainy, nighttime arrival for the former Whitbread winner, L’Esprit d’équipe FR (85), as the wind built in a large rain squall for their Punta del Este finish.

Skippered by Les Sables d’Olonne sailor Lionel Regnier, this French yacht has a powerful historical link to the Whitbread Round the World Race – formerly known as “33 Export” in the 1981 Whitbread, then “L’Esprit d’Equipe” in 1985 when she won the Whitbread, and “Esprit de Liberté” in the 1989 race.

Crossing the line at 07:12 UTC after 35 days of racing, it was obvious how delighted the nine recently inducted Cape Horn sailors were. In fact, most were so pleased with having made the infamous Cape Horn passage, they were sporting their new left earring hoops – a nod to the old sailing tradition of getting your left ear pierced when sailing eastwards past the horn. They did it themselves with a bang!! while sailing north, apparently with a rusty nail, hammer and a piece of wood backing.

“We are very, very happy to be here and look forward to now having a party. The crew worked hard since we left Auckland and it was a hard leg, but I’m very content with what we achieved.” – Lionel Regnier, Skipper of L’esprit D’équipe.

The crew will now be busy investigating issues with their mast which developed problems in the last week – so much so that they were concerned they might dismast, forcing more conservative sailing up the east coast. They now sit sixth in line honours and 9th in IRC.

Just 2hr 46 minutes later, the resplendent Finnish yacht Galiana WithSecure FI (06) graced the finish line at 09:58 UTC. The classic Swan 55, the oldest yacht in the fleet and with national heritage status in Finland, flew three different sponsor spinnakers in the approach, while filming with a drone to capture the moment keeping their partners happy. They have raced hard over the last 35 days – achieving 7th in line honours, and 3rd in IRC for this leg.

Former Golden Globe sailor, Skipper Tapio Lehtinen, who also raced in the 1981 Whitbread onboard “Skopbank of Finland”, like all the skippers so far, was keen to praise this crew for their dedication and hard work.

“It was great, everything went very well. It is a continuous learning process that is enjoyable and rewarding for everybody. I’m super proud of the team getting better and better, leg by leg. We were joking when we passed Cape Horn that we were like a group of Japanese tourists with our cameras – we were all so super excited. We rounded in the daytime with proper Cape Horn weather, with good waves and good surfing.” – Tapio Lehtinen, Skipper of Galiana Withsecure.

And then just 4.5 hours later, the Australian entrant Outlaw AU (08) crossed the line at 14:28 UTC. The Baltic 55, previously raced in the 1985/86 Whitbread, as “Equity and Law”, was also flying her spinnaker. She looked in perfect condition as if out for a Sunday sail instead of months in the grueling Southern Ocean. She slipped over the line in style, placing her in a provisional 8th in line honours and 7th IRC for Leg 3.

The crew, whose entertaining tweets and photos have kept us up to date with their antics in the galley and thoughtful gifts from home, were clearly delighted to have finally reached Punta del Este and be welcomed by their many family and friends.

Skipper Campbell Mackie, despite having already sailed around the world twice, as crew in Sir Robin Knox Johnston’s CLIPPER RACE, this is his first Cape Horn passage, something he’s dreamed of for 60 years. He spoke about the crew’s experience during the infamous passage.

“We’re all still a bit gobsmacked about Cape Horn, it’s still seared in our minds. It’s been the pinnacle of the whole race, we went around with about 50-knot gusts with just the jib up. It was pretty hard going for a while until we got around the corner, but it was appropriate for going around Cape Horn. It was spectacular.” – Campbell Mackie, Skipper of Outlaw.

Meanwhile, there are still five boats to cross the Punta del Este finish line. Both White Shadow ESP (17) and French yacht Evrika FR (07) continue to battle light winds and with over 250 nm until the finish are due to arrive on the 20th. Sterna SA (42) on the 22nd and Explorer AU (28) a day later – if the winds are kind.

Translated 9 ITL (09) who were forced to divert to the Falkland Islands to repair cracks in the hull, continue to make progress with the ongoing work, and hope to be back in the water by the 19th. They are determined to be in Punta del Este for the race start on March 5th.

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