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Pen Duick VI takes leg 3 of the McIntyre Ocean Globe Race

by Ocean Globe Race 14 Feb 02:14 PST 14 February 2024
Pen Duick VI takes leg 3 of the McIntyre Ocean Globe Race © Rob Havill / OGR2023

The stunning Pen Duick VI FR (14), skippered by the indomitable Marie Tabarly, roared across the Yacht Club Punta del Este finish line at 15:55 UTC on February 13th, taking first place in the Cape Horn leg of the MCINTYRE Ocean Globe Race. The sun came out to welcome the exuberant crew, who've fought extremely hard for the coveted 1st place in line honours in what many consider the most prestigious leg of the 8-month OGR circumnavigation.

In 25 knots winds and 3 meters seas, Pen Duick VI triumphed after 30 days of racing from Auckland, New Zealand to Punta del Este, Uruguay.

At 73 feet, the black-hulled Bermudan Ketch, the flagship of The Elemen'Terre Project whose aim is to raise public awareness of major environmental issues, is the biggest yacht in the OGR fleet. Pen Duick VI has a long, and what some might say complicated relationship with the Whitbread Round the World Race - Marie's father Éric Tabarly first skippered Pen Duick VI in the 1973 Whitbread but was dismasted twice before retiring. And today, Marie proved again, without a doubt, what the iconic ketch is capable of. Marie has said it over and over again - strong winds are the kind of weather Pen Duick VI exactly excels in, and finally they got it in Leg 3.

The crew celebrated in style by jumping into the Yacht Club Punta del Este marina fully uniformed, cheered on by hundreds of enthusiastic supporters, many remembering the former Whitbread yachts visiting Punta del Este in Whitbread races of old.

Marie, who crossed the line suffering with a seriously painful toothache, admitted that while she's delighted to have taken first place, it's a bittersweet victory as her biggest rival Translated 9 has been forced to withdraw from leg 3 with hull damage. Cracks appeared after experiencing three broaches and a heavy knockdown in a storm. They retired and diverted to the Falkland Islands where they are now preparing to transport the yacht on a ship to PUNTA for repairs in the hope of rejoining the last leg of the OGR.

"A win is a win, if you want to win a race first you have to finish. You are going to win by keeping your boat, crew, and everything together. I would prefer to finish the rivalry with Translated but maybe they pushed too hard, there are a lot of maybes. I kept my boat together, I finished and I won. But it's a bittersweet victory," said Marie.

Pen Duick VI's first mate Tom Napper, interrupted his marina swim to say how fantastic it felt arriving under a spinnaker into Punta del Este.

"It's great, all the support, the yachts sounding their horns. Fantastic. Yes, this leg was the big one. Point Nemo and Cape Horn made it very special indeed," said Tom.

Marie recently detailed how it felt during the conditions she and her 11 crew had been waiting for just before making the infamous Cape Horn passage. This was after months of light winds that she'd found so frustrating since the beginning of the race in Southampton last September.

"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.

"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 meters 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," said Marie.

Pen Duick VI's arrival into Punta del Este coincides perfectly with the 100th anniversary celebration of Yacht Club Punta del Este. The club has a rich historic link to the Whitbread Round the World race and the club and the locals alike are delighted to see such a renowned yacht arriving first.

"We are delighted at the Yacht Club Punta del Este to welcome one of the most famous sailing Yachts that made history with Eric Tabarly at the helm. And with Marie, Eric's daughter, the Tabarly legacy is present once again as it happened in previous Whitbread stopovers in our port. Welcome Marie and the crew of Pen Duick VI! Our 100th anniversary shines even more with you in our Club," said Daniel Sielecki, Vice Commodore of the yacht club at Punta del Este.

Meanwhile, the rest of the fleet is making speedy progress towards Punta del Este. Spirit of Helsinki FI (71) and Maiden UK (03) continue their epic battle, so close, in the right light that they can see each other. Neptune FR (56) are their closest challengers just 60 nm behind.

Galiana WithSecure FI (06) the most easterly of the fleet experienced some heavy winds overnight resulting in some damage.

"Wind down to 15 kn. Lost half of the safety gear from stern despite extra lashings, one pfd inflated. Cockpit flooded n x, speed recorder over 20kn:)." TWEETED GALIANA WITHSECURE

The next five yachts give the distinct impression they are forming an orderly queue to Punta del Este with the current leaders in IRC Triana FR (66) head of the flotilla, followed by former Whitbread winner L'Esprit d'équipe FR (85), White Shadow ESP (17), Outlaw AU (08) and Evrika FR (07).

The final two yachts in the OGR have had plenty of action all of their own. South African entrants Sterna SA (42) passed Cape Horn at 15:55 UTC, sailing 9.5 miles off the coast. Skippered by Jeremy Bagshaw, who passed the same point a year ago in the GGR, the Swan 53 is now making good speed to Punta del Este.

A special message of thanks was sent from a crew member to Sterna's owner relaying his feelings on being part of the crew and the opportunity to pass Cape Horn.

"Gerrit you don't know how thankful I am that you let me join your crew. It truly is a happy boat. Much love, live from Cape Horn." TWEETED STERNA.

While Explorer AU (28) reported first thing this morning that they had lost their steering overnight. They hove too under storm trysail in heavy winds, gusting up 55 knots with 7 mtr breaking seas, and waited until light and calmer weather before starting repairs. They installed their emergency steering whilst splitting the crew into three to begin work on the cables. By 17:00 UTC they'd completed the work and reported they're back making progress to Cape Horn, which they hope to pass on Wednesday.

Listen to Mark Sinclair, Captain of Explorer reported steering cable fix conversation.

Maiden, Spirit of Helsinki and Neptune are due to arrive late on Wednesday 15th.

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