Spirit of Hungary position: 10th March, 19 50 UTC 51° 32,9′ S, 116° 10,6′ W
It feels a little lonely out here in the middle of the South Pacific, what with the rest of our fleet already around the Horn and the Volvo guys still tucked up in Auckland. For company we only have a monster depression centered south east of us and directly on our route. At 2000 miles across and with a deep center at 968 mb this is the real deal. We are broad reaching in a solid 40 knots with three reefs and the staysail, which feels pretty conservative, but when the 50 knot gusts roll through we wouldn’t want anything more up!
Despite the strong conditions the sky is pretty clear and the remains of the moon are strong enough reflect the white foamy lips of the breaking swells that surround us. Still building, the swells are already the size of small houses and when we surf down them, fall off them or crash into them it gets dark inside during the day as tons of water and foam block the light through our bulletproof polycarbonate windows. In an effort to keep the bow up we have the aft ballast full and the Code 0 and J1 jib stacked aft on deck. I woke up from a nap with a scream from Nandor and expected to see him receding in our wake, my ever present nightmare since I almost lost a co-skipper in my last race around the world. Thankfully he was still on board but was struggling to keep the J1 on board as the waves had minced the sail bag, spilling the loops of the furled sail into the water like links of sausage. We managed to get the sail inside by working together under a constant deluge of ice water and were reminded again how quickly situations can get out of hand in this most unforgiving ocean.
When we round the Horn in a few days time it will be because we escaped, not because we conquered the craziest race course in the world. We just passed underneath Point Nemo, the most islolated place on earth. Half way between Chile and the Chatham Islands east-west and halfway between Antartica and the tropical Pitcairn Islands to the north. However, saying that a tropical island and the frozen chunks to the south is “land” is pushing it, as if we needed refuge we would basically be chosing between Tom Hanks in “Castaway” (without Wilson) or Ernest Shackleton’s ordeal in the icebergs. Even the International Space Station is closer to land than we are, at only a few hundred kilometers up!
We have a pretty wild ride ahead to close out the Pacific, but at least we are getting what was on the menu! Order’s up!
BWR news 10th March: http://www.barcelonaworldrace.org/en/news/news/in-the-grip-of-cape-horn