SOURCE: Volvo Ocean Race
Mid-race point reached, expecting the worst for Cape Horn (ETA - MONDAY, MARCH 30)
- 'I've never known it so close,' says under-pressure Caudrelier
- Mid-race point reached
- Cape Horn ETA - Monday March 30 - 12:00-00:00 UTC
The Volvo Ocean Race fleet, battered but unbroken as they battle through the Southern Ocean, face the toughest 48 hours of the nine-month marathon as they approach Cape Horn on Monday. The six sailing teams also reached the halfway point of their nine-month marathon – midway through the fifth leg of nine - on Friday and were still glued together in some of the closest racing in the event's 41-year history.
The region is the only time in the 38,738-nautical mile race where the boats are likely to see icebergs, despite the ice limits set by organisers, and a huge storm is building up behind to chase them on their way (see details here).
Early on Saturday (0640 UTC), the Chinese boat Dongfeng Race Team, skippered by Frenchman Charles Caudrelier, led the leg from Auckland to Itajaí, Brazil, but by less than 10nm from four other crews.
Caudrelier admitted that the stress has become "wearing' on his eight-man team. "I think it's unique in the history of the Volvo Ocean Race (launched in 1973) to have a fleet battling like this in these latitudes," he wrote in his blog on Saturday. Tomorrow, we'll be even further south and the water temperature is going to drop. I'm expecting the hardest part of this race in the next 48 hours."
After some 3,000nm miles of sailing in the toughest leg of the race, Dongfeng lead by just 2.9nm from Dutch boat Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) with overall leaders Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) and MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP) no more than 7nm further adrift
.The all women's crew of Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) were nearly 120nm behind that pack, but gaining all the time in stronger winds.
They and MAPFRE also suffered Chinese gybes on Tuesday. The leg is expected to conclude around April 5-6 after three weeks of sailing from New Zealand.
In all, the boats will sail nine legs and visit 11 ports. They finish the race on June 27 in Gothenburg, Sweden.
For fun facts and mid-race numbers, please go here.