The crews of the Portimão Global Ocean Race prepare for new breeze in Southern Hemisphere

The second week of the Portimão Global Ocean Race turned out to be a completely different experience for the competitors. The first saw perfect trade winds, good boat speed in the right direction, and sunshine. The second, however, has been a lot more interesting for the crews – as they have sailed through the doldrums and into the Southern Hemisphere.

The crew on Kazimir Partners, who encountered a rougue squall, explained: “The wind just keep on climbing, eventually topping out at 52 knots. By this this time we had lost control and went into the most spectacular wipe out. For a second I lost sight of my brother and shouted out for him. He had managed to get himself in a bear hug with the spare Code O which was strapped on deck. All I could hear was, I’m OK, but I am not losing the sail over the side.”

All of the boats had their fair share of terrifying moments as squall after squall shoved and pulled them through the windless zone. The UK crew aboard Team Mowgli, however, seemed to have a fairly calm transit. “These lulls are pretty infuriating,” skipper Jeremy Salvesen wrote. “You spin through 360 degrees searching for a puff of wind to get you going but that wind is itself spinning round and round – and we don’t want to be traveling north for any time at all, however briefly!”

Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme on Beluga Racer have extended their lead since the weekend, being the first boat through the doldrums and into the new wind. Michel Kleinjans on Roaring Forty has shown his skill as a solo sailor by romping into second place and extending his lead over Cubillos and Muñoz on Desafio Cabo de Hornos, while at the last poll Team Mowgli was just a mile and a half astern of the Chilean boat. The racing is tight and looks likely to remain that way for the second half of the race.

As the boats exit the doldrums, crews will face the new breeze right on the nose. It will be hatches battened and sails reefed. It is very unpleasant sailing as the tropical sun is relentless and with a constant wash of spray across the deck everything will be closed tight making below decks a damp sauna.

The way the sailors tackle this area is critical as they need to line up for the first gate 500 miles to the south. They will have to keep sailing hard on the wind in order to make the gate without tacking. It’s a point of sail especially suited to Hayai, the only boat in the race with a canting keel.