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Maiden, Spirit of Helsinki & Neptune around Cape Horn in OGR

by Ocean Globe Race 9 Feb 00:29 PST 9 February 2024
Nighttime Cape Horn Passage for the Intrepid crew of Maiden © Maiden / OGR2023

Wind and Seas 'Kind' for Three Former Whitbread Yachts Passing Horn!

The all-female crew racing on the much-loved Maiden UK (03), rounded the infamous Cape Horn at 0415 UTC, on February 8th. The conditions could be considered 'kind' for the notoriously arduous region, with 23 knots south-westerlies, gusting to 30k with two-metre seas. Maiden sailed six miles off Cape Horn after making landfall in much tougher conditions at Diego Ramírez Island at dusk the day before to confirm navigation for a nighttime rounding.

The 58-foot Bruce Farr-designed yacht passed the Cape Horn coastline 35 years ago making history when Tracy Edwards skippered the first all-female crew in the Whitbread Round the World Race. And today, the nine crew, skippered by 26-year-old Heather Thomas, returned to the history books sailing in the Ocean Globe Race, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Whitbread, by making the infamous passage with the first black female crew members racing around the horn.

"I am so proud that once again Maiden is making history with another first as Vuyisile Jaca, Junella King and Maryama Seck are the first black female crew to race around the notorious Cape Horn. At the age of 23, Junella will also take the honour of the youngest black woman to achieve this feat. Maiden has followers from all over the world, many from countries we visited on the World Tour and we know that the girls we met and many others will be as inspired as we are by these amazing sailors. If a girl can see it she can be it!" - Tracy Edwards MBE, who skippered Maiden in the 1989/90 Whitbread Round the World Race

Earlier in the week the Maiden crew had expressed frustration at the lack of wind as they approached the horn, but the crew have kept consistently their high racing speeds up. They're currently 4th in line honours and sitting 4th in IRC rankings.

It has been noted that the Maiden crew have the ability to mix their hard work and winning ethos with humour - which has won them many fans around the world with their daily tweets. The last before passing Cape Horn being...

"Land ho! Albatross! Choc mousse! Rainbows" tweeted Maiden. Then, "We rounded cape horn last night! Celebrations under way :)"

The Finnish Swan 651 Spirit of Helsinki FI (71) successfully passed the Horn 18 miles south at 1049UTC with 27 knots of wind gusting to 35 knots in 3-metre seas. They were set to pass the Cape Horn 32 miles south, but unexpectedly around 0800UTC altered course nearly 90 degrees to the north, heading up to the rock. After crossing the longitude of Cape Horn they continued north for a look, allowing Neptune to sail past inside them to snatch an 8-mile lead.

The Helsinki crew, skippered by Jussi Paavoseppä, planned to celebrate their achievement with an Auckland lamb roast. They also had an extra reason to have an extra toast as circumnavigator Hilla Paananen became only the second Finnish woman to pass the Cape Horn!

Jussi has admitted that he's a little disappointed with their competitive performance in this leg, having come in first into Cape Town in Leg 1 and third in Leg 2 into Auckland. They currently sit in 5th on the leaderboard and 8th in IRC, but believe they still have time to recover. They blew their spinnaker twice during the week requiring repairs - but are back up and running and ready to take on the leaders.

Neptune FR (56), which raced in the 1977 Whitbread, successfully made the passage at 1138 UTC. Leg 3 has proved their most successful leg in the race so far. Currently, they sit 4th on the leaderboard and 4th in IRC rankings. Skippered by Tanneguy Raffray, they have proved not only to be succeeding leaderboard wise, but also spreading a message of hope for those suffering from Parkinson's disease. Circumnavigator Bertrand Delhom has been inspiring and proving that anything is possible once you set your mind to it - even sailing around the world with a condition like Parkinsons.

Meanwhile, the rest of the fleet continues the race EXTREMELY close hard. Pen Duick VI FR (14) and Translated 9 IT (09) have just left the Falkland Islands to starboard and tease each other up the coast towards Punta del Este. At the time of writing, they are just six miles apart, with Translated recovering from a knockdown yesterday. Nobody was injured and the stunning Swan 65 was not damaged, and the crew continues in the quest to take first spot on the leaderboard.

The Swan 53, Triana FR (66) will pass Cape Horn later tonight, with the rest of the fleet due tomorrow. Explorer AU (28) has passed the third waypoint meaning the fleet have now all passed the required way points en route to Punta del Este.

The first yachts are due to arrive at the YACHT CLUB PUNTA DEL ESTE approximately February 14th.

Translation Of Marie Tabarly Speech On Pen Duick VI Cape Horn Video

"So, the Guardian passage is almost our only source of weather updates. It's done by amateur radio operators who volunteer to provide weather updates to those crossing the Pacific. It happens that today we have a serious weather alert for the passage, with winds between 40 and 60 knots.

Potentially 10 metres high waves announced

The weather is worsening, but we also receive weather updates through maps. We try to get the maps, but they're quite rudimentary. The sea is starting to get rough, and the swell is deepening. At some point, the wind stabilized between 40 knots, 45 knots, to 50 knots, then from 50 to 60 knots before dropping back to 50. It kept rising and falling, and the waves, well, there were waves and swells, some breaking waves, and the boat started to surf.

We averaged about 12 knots throughout this low pressure area, which amounts to approximately 270 nautical miles per day. We had beautiful days of consistent surfing between 20 and 23 knots. There was even a surf at 28.3 knots, which I think scared us all. We were all very frightened, but the boat was on fire completely.

Indeed, the sea was very rough, so the challenge was to keep the boat aligned and manage the waves coming from port or starboard, which could easily catch the stern of the boat and make us broach. In such conditions, it's crucial to keep the sail up; speed is safe, so you must keep the sail up and move the boat as fast as possible to control and not be overwhelmed by the swell. Instead, know where to position yourself, maintain speed in the trough of a wave, and be ready to tackle the next wave with good speed.

Steering was very challenging; those who are cold once they're at the helm usually warm up in a few seconds because of this, plus the stress of being at the helm. And yeah, there are moments when you feel quite small, especially at the top of a wave, 7 to 10 metres high, looking at the vast ocean. It's really when you're at the top of the wave that you realize the immensity of the sea. And then, we're at the Horn, not just anywhere in the world.

We know we're approaching Cape Horn, and once we leave this low pressure area on February 6th at 6 AM, we pass Cape Horn. The crew passing Cape Horn isn't that difficult because when you arrive, the sea is calm, and there's no wind. The challenge is before reaching Cape Horn; passing it is the reward. We passed Cape Horn under excellent conditions with an incredible sunrise. It was the first sunrise in Patagonia, just sublime. And well, the Translated team was still there, passing Cape Horn a few hours after us.

From Cape Horn, we started our ascent of the Atlantic towards Punta del Este, passing a place called the Strait of the Sea, west of the Falkland Islands, also known as the Malvinas. Our friends from Translated 9 also followed us closely in the Strait of the Sea, overtaken by Char Cordrelier and Gitana, who are also completing their circumnavigation. So, we won our bet, arriving before the Ultimes. At Cape Horn, it was nice; we got to talk a bit with Charles and will meet up in Lorient. It wouldn't be us without the craziness of our crew. We must talk about Hugo's birthday, where the animation team got involved and managed to have a water balloon fight while outside there."

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