NICO BUDEL RE-JOINS THE GOR IN PUNTA DEL ESTE
15 MARCH, 2012 | by Oliver Dewar
Dutch yachtsman and Global Ocean Race (GOR) entry, Nico Budel, sailed into Punta del Este, Uruguay, at 08:30 local (11:30 GMT) on Thursday morning following a single-handed, 29-day delivery from Cape Town, South Africa, with Class40 Sec. Hayai. “After 20 days, I thought it was getting close to the time to finish!” admits Budel who took first in class in the 2005 OSTAR after 22 days and took eighth out of 41 finishers in the solo leg of the 2011 AZAB Race. “But that was the only time I thought about it and the feeling soon passed,” he adds. “About two days ago I started to go a bit faster as I’ve never been to Punta del Este and was excited to get there and re-join the fleet.”
The 72-year-old yachtsman dismasted on the first night of GOR Leg 2 off the Cape of Good Hope with his son, Frans, when rigging component failure brought an abrupt halt to continuing the course to Wellington, New Zealand. Without seeking assistance, the Budels motored back to Cape Town and immediately began making plans to re-join the GOR. New sails from North were ordered and a replacement carbon mast was built by Southern Spars and, 11 weeks after the dismasting, Budel set off from Cape Town for a 4,400-mile voyage through the South Atlantic to Uruguay. “I’ve tried to find out what is different from the original mast,” says Budel. “But it’s pretty much the same and the boat feels familiar,” he confirms of his first generation Akilaria Class40, formerly Beluga Racer of the 2008-09 GOR double-handed winners, Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme.
As was the case in the 2008-09 GOR when Budel – sailing in the solo division on Open 40 Hayai – sustained keel failure on Leg 2 and was forced to abandon his boat – there will be a strong Budel presence in the Uruguay stopover: “My wife Myrna is coming and perhaps my son and my co-skipper Erik arrives over the weekend,” reports the Dutch skipper.
Nico Budel’s co-skipper for Leg 4 to Charleston, USA, is 42-year-old Erik van Vuuren – one of the Netherland’s most experienced big-boat, professional inshore and offshore sailors who will shortly arrive in Punta del Este to begin preparations for the next leg, while Frans Budel will re-join his father in the USA for the transatlantic Leg 5 to the circumnavigation’s finish line in Les Sables d’Olonne, France. “We’ve got a new mast, new sails – everything is perfect!” says the unstoppable Dutchman.