Friday, March 20, 2015


20 March 2015: I am sure that the sailors among you were not the slightest bit confused by the subject line. For the rest of you, be patient and you will learn and possibly enjoy some neat stuff. Sailors, you know what the Volvo Round the World Race is - used to be the Whitbread years ago. This iteration has not been without its problems - not the least of which was one of the boats running onto a mid-ocean reef at 19 knots. Needless to say, it did not end well, though no one, miraculously was hurt! Well, not quite true: the boat really took it badly! But today's post is about the Southern Ocean - that's the latitudes between the bottom of Cape Horn (tip of South America) and Antarctica. The weather is always crappy with big winds and frightening seas. Down there, there is no land to interfere with the wind as it blows west to east right around the globe. And blow it does.

So the story today is that the boats have left New Zealand (it's not a non-stop race; they go to specific ports, fix the boats, reprovision, and have a restart for each leg.) and are on the way to Itajai Brasil.

The race committee had to move this part of the course (called the "ice gate") a bit to the north due to a significant number or really big icebergs in the path of the racers - you can probably imagine what whacking one of those might do to a boat a good deal smaller than the Titanic!

They have been sailing at 20+ kts and, by the way, these are NOT catamarans, but single hulled and quite light boats of about 70'.

Did I mention big seas and high winds? Seas have been 5+ meters tall (for those of you playing along in the U.S. that's about 17+  ft.) and the winds have been the remnants of cyclone Pam, running in the high 30-40 kts. It is probably exhilarating for a while, but I suspect it gets old after a few days of it!

So for those thrill seekers among you, here's a video of what it's like on one of these amazing boats.....

Racing in the Southern Ocean (click)

 So, keep your safety harness on, wear your life jacket, and don your foulies!

Until next time,  
                                  Fair Winds,

                                           Old Salt

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