Konyukhov passes first gate in Antarctica Cup

Fedor Konyukhov 27 metre flier
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Russian sailor Fedor Konyukhov passed through the Cottee Gate (140E) at 15:17:56 UTC on Feb 5 to complete the first stage of his solo record attempt around the 14,000 mile Antarctica Cup racetrack. It has been a slow start, but with classic Southern Ocean winds – and snow – forecast for the next few days, the 56 year old adventurer expects to reach the next gate – Wilkes – in much shorter time.

His Open 85ft yacht Trading Network Alye Perusa covered the 400 mile distance from Gate 1 DUMONT d'URVILLE in 2 days, 13 hours, 16 minutes, and 56 seconds.

Lee Bruce, Fedor’s American weather router has advised: “We need to get some more south into Fedor’s course - a heading of about 115-130 True whenever possible with 53’S 160’E as an aiming point.

If we can’t leave Campbell Island to port, it’s not a big problem, but we are working with that in mind. A front will move through within the next 12 hours, bringing colder air—cold enough to result in snow showers.

The upper-level air will be plenty cold enough to support snow, but the water temperature will help keep the temperature on the boat from falling too far.

Still, snow or sleet may make it to the boat before melting”.

Forecast or next 3 days: NNW 20-25 knots gusting to 30-35 knots. Squalls.

06 Feb /0600 UTC-1200 UTC: Backing as front moves through, becoming SSW 25 knots by 06 Feb /1200UTC. Snow squalls.

06 Feb /1800UTC: SSW 20-25 knots; gusting 35 knots possible snow squalls.

07 Feb /0000UTC: SW 20-25 knots

07Feb /0600UTC: WSW 20 knots

07 Feb /1200UTC-08 Feb /1200UTC: Light WSW to SW

08 Feb /1200UTC-09 Feb /1200UTC: WNW 15 knots, becoming NW 25-30 knots.

Yesterday, Fedor reported: “It was a good day today. Clear skies with some high altostratus cloud. Wind 20 knots at times gusting up to 30 as predicted. I am experiencing massive swells corresponding with the forecast of 5-6 meters high, occasionally 7. The swell is coming from S-W and is smooth without windy tops. The boat is lifting gently.

This “water express” has travelled from Cape Horn across Southern Atlantic and Indian Oceans undisturbed. When I look at these waves I think of eternity. A thousand years waves all going in the same direction - nothing has changed here. When you see this vast ocean your mentality changes and you begin to think differently. Many things that seemed to be very important on dry land, have no meaning here.

Once passed Gate 2 'COTTEE', I am aiming for Waypoint 140E and 50S. From there we will keep diving South towards 53 South. There are two low pressure systems to the North and South which I will try to pass between. If I manage to do so, we get 35 knots of wind. If not we can end up with up to 50 knots of wind!

I would like to build some distance between New Zealand and Auckland Island.

Last time when I sailed from Hobart to Falmouth (in 2005) I cut the corner and ended up on the bank with dozens of Korean fishing trawlers. It was during the night, with heavy rain and gusty winds. I had to sail very close to some of the trawlers and that was not very pleasant. This time I would like to leave all these islands to port and head for Cape Horn.

The ocean is empty with hardly a sign of any life. I have seen Just one albatross which is very unusual. Normally I would expect to see some whales at this area – but not yet.

My GPS shows I have covered 1,500 nautical miles since the start. Not very impressive, but the first week was very light, with several calm periods. I have plenty of miles ahead and plenty of wind and think I will catch up. Today was one of those rare days you would like to frame. I wish it could stay like this for the rest of the voyage, but know it won’t!”

Google Earth image with track to date

Gate 2 - COTTEE GATE within the Antarctica Cup Racetrack is named after Kay Cottee, the first woman to sail solo unassisted and non-stop ‘round the world’.

Kay, then aged 34, left Australia on November 29th, 1987 from Watsons Bay New South Wales, and returned 189 days later on June 5th. She cruised into Sydney Harbour to be met by tens of thousands of wellwishers. Her historic voyage on the 11.2m Cavalier 37 Sloop First Lady was the result of a childhood ambition.

Kay Cottee’s numerous records include: the first woman to complete a single-handed non-stop circumnavigation; the first woman to circumnavigate non-stop west to east, south of the five southernmost capes; the fastest time for a solo circumnavigation by a woman; the fastest speed (average speed 4.87 miles per hour during her round-the-world voyage) for a solo circumnavigation by a woman; the longest period alone at sea by a woman; and the greatest non-stop distance covered by a solo woman.

Kay was named Australian of the Year in 1988 for her achievement and contribution to the nation, and has also received the Officer of the Order of Australia award. Kay Cottee’s boat ‘First Lady’ is now on permanent display at the National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour, Sydney, Australia.

Click here for latest updates on Fedor Konyukhov's progress.