Fedor Konyukhov plays Russian Roulette - Cape Horn
by Robert Williams on 13 Mar 2008
Day 46 of the inaugural Antarctica Cup: Position: 56,12.33S 67,13.11W Speed: 12 knots, Course: 89° Cape Horn certainly lived up to its reputation today as Russian adventure sailor Fedor Konyukhov swept through Drake’s Passage, pushed by 50-65knot westerly winds.
Diving in and out of the huge swells, the radar is continually sounding false alarms - Trading Network Alye Parusa PPL PHOTO AGENCY Antarctica Cup Racetrack © http://www.antarcticacup.com
The infamous Cape marks the spiritual half way stage in Fedor’s trail-blazing solo circumnavigation around the Antarctica Cup Racetrack and these storm-force winds, coupled with the 135 million cubic metres of water running each second through the 500 n. mile wide funnel that divides the South Pacific from the South Atlantic, makes these the most feared waters in the world.
'The storm came upon me very suddenly - and very hard. I knew it was coming and hoped the winds would build gradually, but the storm came as one huge gust and the winds have not dropped below 50 knots since, with gusts up to 65 knots. It is like all hell has broken loose. It is pitch dark, it is snowing, the ocean is completely covered in foam and the air is filled with spray. The noise on deck is enormous – it’s as if I am in a wind turbine. The waves are short and traveling very fast – like a train. The boat is continually surfing down one wave and hitting the one in front. I have had to reduce sail to the minimum to stay in pace with the ocean. The feeling is that I am in the high altitude jet stream with the water roaring and running east.'
This is Fedor's fourth rounding of Cape Horn, and the second aboard Trading Network Alye Parusa. Among the first to congratulate the 56 year old circumnavigator was Russian Vice Premier Minister Sergey Ivanov, currently on a visit to the Russian Novolazarevskaya Antarctic Survey station to watch tests of the new GLONASS satellite position system (A Russian version of GPS). The two spoke by satellite phone and Mr Ivanov invited Fedor to the Kremlin when he completes the Antarctica Cup in May
For the moment, visibility, not the winds, remain Konyukov’s prime concern. 'Visibility is bad. I have my radar set for 6 miles - Alarm zone, but with my boat Trading Network Alye Parusa diving in and out of the huge swells, the radar is continually sounding false alarms. Each time, I jump on deck and get a cold shower. So far there have been plenty of alarms or false alarms but I cannot sight an iceberg. Frankly, it is hard enough to define the difference between ocean and sky – it all looks like one grey blanket. I hate to say it, but I am playing Russian roulette here. '
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