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93 days 22 hours 52 minutes

The Spirit of Hungary has finished her very first around the world race. A short summary of the 110 – days journey

The Spirit of Hungary has finished her very first around the world race with skipper Nandor Fa and co-skipper Conrad Colman. A short summary of the 110 – days journey.

Arrival gallery /photo©Erdélyi Gábor:

The brand new boat had planned to participate in her first race last summer, but was forced to retire due to technical problems from the New York-Barcelona double handed trans-atlantic race. As the reparation works lasted longer than expected, there wasn’t enough time to prepare and to train the new boat. In addition, Nandor Fa had to find a new co-skipper in the last minute instead of Marcell Goszleth. The fast exchange was successful and the final preparations in November in Trieste before the delivery were already carried out in cooperation with the new co-skipper – the kiwi Conrad Colman.

The race started on 31st December in a nerve-rackingly light wind, that had increased later, but only close to the shore and not on the Easterly track that the Spirit of Hungary was on. During an unfortunate sail-change right at the beginning their spinnaker had broken. Their little lag from the fleet was merely annoying at that moment, and later became more dramatic when the boat had been trapped in a massive calm on the Alboran sea that lasted for several days. The situation had thoroughly tested the skippers’ tolerance.

Having reached the ocean after they had successfully got rid of a fishing net tangled around the keel, they started chasing the fleet with very good speeds. Unfortunately the high speed had its negative kickback: the computer that controlled the keel canting system was damaged due to a leak that allowed water to come in. This was a huge disadvantage for the other two thirds of the race, but this had not stopped them from going on. What’s more, they didn’t even make a pitstop in Capetown, although the option was given. They continued moving the keel manually.

Together with all these problems, as Conrad had reported, as soon as they had reached the southern oceans, the boat became really enthusiastic and started wildly running on enormous waves of the vast greyness inhabited by the albatross. At the same time, this was when their mast problems had emerged: first a deep cut in the top of the mast, then further car problems came, that made their ride more difficult. The boat’s abilities were limited because the maximum area of the main sail that they were able to use was at one reef down. Although this wasn’t a disadvantage in the south. As Nandor said: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger — they continued racing with this philosophy, and on the Indian Ocean their distance completed within 24 hours had exceeded 400 miles. They were stealing the miles closer and closer to the One Planet One Ocean / Pharmaton, when one of the top cars of the main sail had broken and made it impossible to move the sail. Nandor had to go up the mast many times in order to consolidate the situation, and to be able to sail safely until arriving in Bluff, New-Zealand.

At this point, it was required for them to make a pit stop because the mast problem was impossible to fix while sailing on the open southern ocean. Nandor quoted his Mother’s saying: “where the problem is biggest, the help is closest”. Unfortunately the saying turned out to be a double truth, as on the way to Bluff, two keel bolts of the total eight had broken. At the same time, Conrad’s connections in New Zealand managed to help in solving the problems in time. With the support of Conrad’s uncle – Gray -, the two skippers could finish all the necessary reparations during the three-day-long pit stop.

The return to the race track started a little slow, but then their speed had picked up again: 417 miles covered within 24 hours, with which their performance was better than the Renault Captur’s, and thus prove to have very high potentials to compete with the rest of the fleet.

The curiosity of the Barcelona World Race’s present edition was, that because of the restricted ice zone, several boats had inevitably run into calm areas in the middle of the southern ocean. The Spirit of Hungary had experienced this too, fortunately not for too long. The ocean during the long lonely ride until Cape Horn had shown its usual face as well: constantly rushing the Hungarian boat with 40-50 knots of winds, which had passed the southern test. However, another keel bolt had given up the fight, causing a constant worry and extra caution for the skippers for the rest of the race.

One of the most difficult parts of an around the world sailing race in terms of tactics is climbing up north the Atlantic. On the one hand, most times it’s very unpredictable which areas would be the most effective, and on the other hand, progress largely depends on luck. The Spirit of Hungary had completed this leg of the race successfully, and though it could not reduce its distance to the boat ahead of them, the distance had not grown either.

But luck had its price: Conrad had twisted his shoulder in an unfortunate fall, and had injured his forehead too. For many days, Nandor had to navigate and do all the adjustments onboard on his own. Around the latitude of Cape Verde, another keel bolt had broken — now the forth [together with the ones before the Bluff pit stop] but actually the second one. They didn’t give up and decided to finish the race carefully without stopping again, with special adjustments so that they can sail relatively safe until the goal.

During the race, the boat had collided with numerous unidentified floating objects, of which one had a more serious impact: the rudder tie-bar had to be fixed. The huge seaweed jungle north from the Equator that had slowed the boat for many days, had been more annoying. A shorter but even more adventurous story is when they had to find their way out of a huge labyrinth of fishing nets in the middle of the dark night as they were approaching Gibraltar. The comeback in the Med was the same for the Spirit of Hungary as for all the other boats: a fast average, then a much slower arrival. The Spirit of Hungary glided in front of the W Hotel the same way as it left it 110 days, 10 minutes and 59 seconds ago after the start.

Several times it seemed like everything will be all right and they’re over all the trouble. Then Nandor would always say – last time in the Gibraltar Strait – that the race is not done until you reach the port. Now they reached it, and the race is over. Bravo! Congratulations!

Main numbers:

Race completed in [time]: 110 days, 10 hours, 59 minutes, 40 seconds

Difference to leader: 26 days, 5 hours, 9 minutes, 15 seconds

Theoretical route: 23321 miles

Theoretical average speed: 8,8 knots

Actual distance covered: 27575,28 miles

Actual average speed: 10,4 knots.