Mediterranean Conference Centre, final prizegiving

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Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron take second place with Campagne de France – Photo Trevor Wilkins

In light airs of around six knots under a waxing crescent moon with floodlit Table Mountain as a backdrop, Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron with their Pogo 40S², Campagne deFrance, crossed the Cape Town finish line completing Leg 1 of the double-handed, Class40 Global Ocean Race (GOR) at 19:43:40 GMT (21:43 local) on Friday evening. The Franco-British duo took 33 days 07 hours 43 minutes and 40 seconds, securing second place in the GOR’s fleet of six Class40s, arriving in South Africa just over 14 hours behind the Leg 1 winners, Ross and Campbell Field with Class40 BSL.

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With mooring completed at North Wharf in the V&A Warterfront Marina, Mabire and Merron were successful in masking their disappointment at finishing the GOR’s Leg 1 in second place having led the fleet of six Class40s for 24 days, holding pole position for 75 per cent of the course from Palma to the Cape Town stopover. Halvard Mabire had a quick answer for arriving in South Africa behind BSL: “We’re sharing an apartment with the Fields and if we arrived before them, they would be very upset as they couldn’t prepare the apartment for us,” claimed the 54 year-old Normandy sailor who has a long history of racing with his GOR adversary and friend, Ross Field. “So we sent our New Zealand maids ahead to put the beers in the fridge, make the beds and get everything ready.”

Mabire and Merron have spent 12 months working ceaselessly to prepare their GOR campaign, taking delivery of the bare hull and deck in September last year, fitting out the Class40 themselves and designing many of the systems and components. The result in Leg 1 is clearly a blow: “We are very disappointed,” admits Mabire who has identified one of the root causes as tactics following crossing the Fastnet Marine Scoring Gate at the islands of Fernando de Norohna off Brazil. “After Fernando we were faced with some reaching conditions where BSL is really, really fast.” The Fields’ Verdier-designed Tyker 40, launched in 2008 and raced in the 2008-09 GOR by the late Felipe Cubillos, is a formidable reaching weapon, but sluggish in light airs. “So, if we took the same course as them, we wouldn’t have any chance to catch them and we tried to reduce the number of miles which is why we stayed to the north, which was a mistake,” he explains.

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