Andrea Mura – Vento di Sardegna @Andrea Mura
What an incredible week it has been in the Global Solo Challenge, with storms, apprehension, big seas and strong winds and with the legendary Cape Horn in the background like a trophy to pick up in victory. The palpable joy and relief of Andrea Mura’s celebrations on Vento di Sardegna, who dedicated his rounding to the late Gigi Riva, a football legend who recently passed away and who had christened the boat when it was launched. An emotional moment that conveyed the pride in the achievement, the relief after several stormy days, the incredible joy in achieving a goal that had been chased for many years.
Less than 24 hours later, in the Chilean afternoon of February 7th, Francois Gouin on Kawan3 Unicancer passed the longitude of the lighthouse on the island of Cabo de Hornos. In his video taken during the rounding he repeatedly expressed his joy and happiness for his long voyage and navigation in the great south. The eyes and expressions of each skipper upon rounding Cape Horn speak more than just the words they pronounce. It is such an incredible achievement that I think even grasping its full magnitude will take time for each of them.
Philippe Delamere, Cole Brauer, Ronnie Simpson, Andrea Mura and Francois Gouin have reached the summit of their journey and can look forward to their way back to base camp which should become progressively easier as the storms are left behind and the temperatures rise. Riccardo Tosetto will be rounding later today and has shared with us the photo of a beautiful sunrise of what will forever be a very special day for him.
The Italian skipper, on his JPK Class40 #60 Obportus, has had a rough ride to Cape Horn, having moved further north than Andrea Mura and Francois Gouin in the previous week to avoid a ridge of high pressure, he ended up paying a heavy price for his choice. The area of light winds pushed further north giving his direct sparring partner Francois a clear advantage. His northerly route kept him in an area where he could not avoid the oncoming strong winds, and was hit by a steady 50-55 knots blow and even experienced a squall with peaks of 70 knots which laid him flat for moments that felt like eternity.
Francois and Riccardo have been at sea for 100 days now and it is therefore fully understandable that they look forward to heading north to better conditions. For reference Charles Caudrelier on Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, who rounded the horn two days ago took just 30 days from Brest to Cape Horn! Amazing.
In fact, I wonder if Cape Horn has ever been this busy with so many boats from different events all rounding Cape Horn at the same time. As of 0800 UTC, 0500 local time on January 6th, in the middle of the night PenDuickVI skippered by Marie Tabarly was the first boat to round the cape in Ocean Globe Race. With a 73ft ketch, the sea state encountered in the previous 24 hours was intense but not worrying, as displacement and size matter indeed in the south. Next to round was the Italian Swan 65 Translated9 skippered by Simon Curwen (Owned and Co-skippered by Marco Trombetti). The following day it was the turn of Andrea Mura on his Open 50 Vento di Sardegna. The all female crew of Maiden in the OGR rounded the cape at about the same time as Francois Gouin in the GSC.
Riccardo Tosetto will be rounding just behind Spirit of Helsinki and Neptune and ahead of Triana with a further 7 boats in the Ocean Globe Race that are still in the Pacific with Sterna and Explorer nicely covering David Linger’s back on Koloa Maoli. The American skipper will be the 6th boat to round Cape Horn in the Global Solo Challenge. He is sailing in fairly strong winds but should have a clear path ahead for a fast run towards the Atlantic.
In 7th place William MacBrien is in the proximity of Point Nemo and may be feeling a little isolated with 2000 miles still to go to the tip of South America and approximately the same distance from the last outpost of New Zealand territories, Chatham Island. Pavlin Nadvorni on Espresso Martini is midway between NZ and Chatham after setting off from Bluff Harbour a few days ago.
Kevin Le Poidevin on Roaring Forty is about 150 miles away from rounding Cape Leeuwin which will bring the Australian sailor in home waters. His progress has been good with many days of significant winds which were not all smooth sailing as he’s dealing with some software issues with his primary autopilot. A reason to welcome the light winds he has today that should allow him to troubleshoot the issue.
Still in Hobart Louis Robein on Le Souffle de la Mer III should be leaving Tasmania within a day or two at the latest, having resolved all his issues. The french skipper has a deadline set for the February 11th, resulting from the rule that prevents skippers to sail on to cross the Pacific if they are too far behind and at risk of not reaching Cape Horn before the end of the Austral summer when the weather starts to deteriorate and the waters become even more dangerous than they already are.
Alessandro Tosetti on Aspra is dealing with his rigging issues in Hobart, something that turned out to be a little more complicated than expected as parts have to be ordered from mainland Australia. The Italian skipper has not yet given a re-start date but must be in a position to leave by February 20th.
For once we are leaving updates about the front runners last. I guess a little rotation is only fair to give all the skippers their deserved attention.
Ronnie Simpson is sailing in the waters between Argentina and the Falklands which are renowned for the presence of kelp, a long and very strong type of algae that grows to 20-30 meter tall from the bottom of the sea towards the surface. Storms like those of the past few days often break away some of these long liana type algae which can then become a real problem for sailors. If they get stuck around a keel with a bulb to the point that not even moving in reverse can free the boat there is no other option than to dive and cut the algae away. Ronnie reported spending 2 hours in the water to free himself from the tangle, a dangerous and unpleasant job, especially in waves and strong winds.