Portimao Global Ocean Race: Michel Kleinjans wins solo division

Tuesday, 18 November 2008


The Cape Doctor welcomed Belgium sailor Michel Kleinjans to South Africa as he stormed across the finish line to win the single-handed division of the Portimão Global Ocean Race. The Cape Doctor is the name given by locals to the gale force winds that blow down the backside of Table Mountain taking with it all germs and pollution and flinging them far out to sea. The strong southeasterly wind propelled Kleinjans and his Open 40, Roaring Forty into Cape Town giving him a fair breeze right the way up to the finish line. Michel, looking worn and tired, raised his hands in salute clearly relieved to have finished the leg with his mast still intact. It was rigging problems that led him to drop from second on the water, to fourth boat into South Africa. His official leg time was 36 days, 21 hours, 40 minutes and 1 second.

“It was a really long race for me,” he said. “Mentally I was prepared for 32, 33 days so the last few days were long, but I have to say that I enjoyed the sailing; all of it.

Michel sailed a superb race from Portimão giving the double-handed teams a good run for their money. Roaring Forty was the first boat to pass Cape Sagres just 20 miles into the leg, and Michel went on to prove that it was not a mere flash in the pan by sailing in second place on the water for much of the race. He was never a threat to Beluga Racer, but he was able to give the much newer Class 40s, Team Mowgli and Desafio Cabo de Hornos a good run for their money. It was only after a huge scare with his mast that Michel had to take his foot off the gas pedal and slow up in order to keep the rig in the boat all the way to Cape Town.

“The mast is OK. I just need to do some work on the rigging, but I had to sail a lot slower than I would have done just to keep the mast in the boat so that also affected me mentally,” he said. Lashing on the lower port shrouds are visible, but other than that the boat looks to be in perfect condition and ready for the next leg.

“Well that’s not quite true,” Kleinjans said. “I have quite a bit of work still to do here in Cape Town plus I have to go back to Belgium for a few days. So I am very happy that the start has been delayed a week. I want to make sure that my boat is 100% perfect for the next leg which I imagine will be a lot tougher than this one.”

The next boat due into Cape Town is Nico Budel on Hayai. At the 13:20 UTC poll Hayai still had 756 miles to go to Cape Town.

Brian Hancock
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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 18 November 2008 )