It’s the final weekend in southern latitudes for the sailors in The Ocean Race with winds a steady gale force 35 knots (65 km/h) and gusting to 45 knots (85 km/h).
In these Furious 50s, the winds and waves are on a one way track from west to east around Antarctica, the continuous train of low pressure systems generating wind and waves that are the stuff of legend.
Cape Horn is where it all comes to a head: the land juts to the south and there is a shelf where the sea bed rises from 5000 metres to less than half that in Drake Passage to the south and to just a few hundred metres if you pass further north and closer to land.
This is where The Ocean Race IMOCA fleet is headed, the latest ETA is Monday 27 March afternoon/evening UTC.
The sailors are getting a final taste of the South this weekend, with winds a steady gale force 35 knots (65 km/h) and gusting to 45 knots (85 km/h).
On the race course, Team Malizia has edged out ahead of Team Holcim-PRB and Biotherm, with 11th Hour Racing Team sliding back over the past 36 hours.
The spread from first to fourth is now over 100 miles, but as we’ve seen before in this leg, another compression is forecast with the leading boats expected to push into lighter wind around Cape Horn.
Charlie Enright on 11th Hour Racing Team, was lamenting the damage to their mainsail that prevents them from sailing with a single reef . . . “Unfortunately, we’re bleeding miles to the others, being underpowered because we’re running with two reefs in the mainsail when it would be better to be on one.”
Team Holcim PRB skipper Kevin Escoffier . . . “We are still in contact with Malizia who are a little faster than us in these conditions.”
“We knew that we had a versatile boat, and that they have a sailboat that is suited to this kind of conditions. Our strategy is to take it easy without trying to do something you can’t do with the boat.”
The forecast is for conditions to remain very strong over the weekend, with winds beginning to moderate on Sunday before easing significantly on Monday, leaving the possibility of a relatively easy passage of Cape Horn later in the day 27 March.
The Ocean Race Leg 3 – IMOCA – DTL nm – SPEED kt
1st Team Malizia 2646nm to finish – 20.00kt
2nd Team Holcim – PRB 25nm – 18.00kt
3rd Biotherm 91nm – 16.00kt
4th 11th Hour Racing Team 108nm – 15.5kt
5th GUYOT environnement – Team Europe RETIRED