Race 4 Day 30: Southern (Ocean) Hospitality

17 December 2019

The final few days of the Marlow Southern Ocean Sleigh Ride are upon the three remaining teams and thoughts are firmly on preparations for the next race, with welcome smooth sailing conditions allowing so.

The race within the race, between Punta del Este and Visit Sanya, China has concluded. Punta del Este has finished the race as champions, and Visit Sanya has accepted second place in the Roaring Forties Match Race, after experiencing light winds and choosing to motor to make best speed to Australia.

With a need to travel fast to Fremantle, all teams have been given the green light to motor-sail should they wish to do so. Although, as Skipper Seumas Kellock of Visit Sanya describes the desire to sail as much of the stretch as possible remains ingrained within the team.

He reported: “640 nautical miles to go. Last night, we took second place in our Southern Ocean Roaring Forties Match Race against Punta del Este. The wind had dropped off to 4 knots, and we do need to get to port sooner rather than later. So, after declaring our second place we turned on our iron steed and motored straight for Fremantle. This luckily though didn’t last for long and after only four hours of motoring, the wind had increased and shifted, so we’re now beam reaching under the Yankee 2 and full main, making 9 knots over ground and 9 knots of VMG.”

Making good speed towards Fremantle and expected to arrive to a host of supporters on 19 Dec is Punta del Este. Jeronimo Santos-Gonzalez enthused: “The Southern Ocean is awesome, but it is continuously trying to throw you off your feet with long periods of strong winds, massive waves and cold temperatures. It has been truly an amazing experience!”

Jeronimo said of the team’s motivation: “In Race 4, our motivation for racing fast has been different from other races where we had the rest of the fleet to compete against. The motivation factor, instead, has been a bit more mixed. For some crew, the simple fact of crossing that inhospitable stretch of water as soon as possible was enough, some really wanted to beat Visit Sanya, China, others they just thrive on speed, but the majority wanted to arrive quickly to Fremantle, to prepare the boat for Leg 4 and have enough time to rest for the next challenge.”

Whilst marathon-sailing Unicef has 30 days of experience to talk about, Skipper Ian Wiggin said: “We are all more than excited by the prospect of getting there as soon as possible, but, as the distance to the finish reduces into comprehensible numbers - just further than the distance from Land’s End to John O'Groats at the moment, the conversations have become more reflective. Limericks have been written and silly songs have been sung, as people look back, remember and appreciate all the simple joys and laughter, as well as the drama and excitement, of our unexpectedly epic ocean crossing.”

He continued: “Knowing we are arriving to such a massive welcome, and that all our many other supporters around the world have been cheering us on has been a huge and a growing boost to everyone on board, and we cannot say thank you enough.”

See the latest ETAs here and read the experiences of those on board here as they look forward to what promises to be an arrival into Fremantle filled with emotional reunions, relief and preparations for Race 5.

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