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Sal’s Ocean Globe Race Analysis: Maiden arrives in Auckland after 38 days at sea!

The happy and healthy crew of Maiden brought her safely into Auckland after 38 days and over 7500 miles of ocean sailing as part of the Ocean Globe Race.

 

The boat looked in fantastic order, as did the crew and their arrival was made even more special by the presence of Steinlager 2 and Lion New Zealand; 3 iconic boats in one of the most famous and special harbours in the world.

The short stopover in Cape Town left the crew with a lot of work to get the boat ready for what could have been a very tough leg sailing in the notorious Southern Ocean. Nothing was left to chance; everything was serviced and double checked. The crew were ready for whatever came their way.

It soon became clear once again that there were 4 boats dominating the race. Pen Duick VI stormed on with Maiden in hot pursuit, closely followed by Translated 9 and Spirit of Helsinki. All powerful boats ready to take on the unpredictable Southern Ocean. They quickly headed South to pick up the low pressure systems that are produced in the higher latitudes, unimpeded by land masses. Maiden was recording surfs of over 20 knots in the first week and the boats were averaging over 200 mile days regularly.

As the days went on, they descended into the amazing monochrome world of the Southern Ocean. There are more shades of grey that you would think possible, with beams of sun shining through the ever present cloud cover. The wildlife is spectacular with a wide variety of birds, including the majestic albatross, with many whales and species of dolphin unique to the region.

Navigation without GPS is challenging, with limited opportunity for sun sights. The boats had constraints on their choice of route with 3 waypoints to keep the boats safe from icebergs and growlers that are difficult to see and avoid. This is now the norm for Southern Ocean sailing but means the boats took a very different route to when Maiden sailed in the 89/90 race when we went much further south of where the waypoints now are.

The first 2 waypoints were islands, so very obvious to find. The third was a lat and long position with nothing physically there, fine with GPS but tricky only using celestial navigation and dead reckoning.

The boats took a big swing north to get round it and found the centre of a high pressure. Pen Duick VI suffered the worst from this and in their attempts to escape its clutches lost the lead and were pushed north giving them the opportunity to sail through the Bass Strait between Australia and Tasmania, cutting the corner to enter the Tasman Sea. Translated 9 and Helsinki stayed south and sailed under the huge high pressure that was dominating the Tasman sea giving them a fast run up the West Coast of New Zealand. Maiden lost miles with the unpredictable high that was constantly moving. Pen Duick VI gained back places by the Bass Strait manoeuvre, but not enough.

Translated 9 stormed round Cape Reinga to lead the fleet into Auckland. Pen Duick and Helsinki, only hours apart coming in next. Maiden came in next, looking more like they had just sailed round the Isle of Wight than done one of the, potentially, toughest of ocean legs.