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Spirit of Hungary – BWR 74th day on the sea – succesfull passage at the Cape Horn – Nandor Fa and Conrad Colman skippers’ log 16 -17 March

CAPE HORN PASSAGE: Spirit of Hungary Nandor Fa 16/03/2015 06h13 UTC crossed Cape Horn after 74d 18h 13min of sailing.

Short message from the skippers of  Spirit of Hungary:
We made it!!!! C.! We made it!!!! N. 06:17 UTC  we crossed the Cape Horn longitude and sailing towards home  N.

17 March –  the today’s tracking and the nice South-Atlantic onboard photos – which we received taken by the SOH skippers after their crossing the Cape Horn longitude they were sailing at the Maire Strait. The are sailing towards

Nandor Fa skipper’s log 16th March, 14:45 UTC


In the past 20 hours the wind have been working completely differently than what the forecasts had promised. When approaching the Horn, instead of North-Westerly we had South-Westerly downwind, in which we were jibing towards the cape with the fear in our minds of a 50 knots wind hitting down on us. So our biggest sail was the reacher instead of the gennaker, sailing a little bit slower than we could have. C was braver, at least verbally, and he wanted to hoist the gennaker.
We can’t see anything, not even the clouds, we know what we know and we’ve been trying to repair so many damages for these past months so that we can sail safely and well…where on earth are you rushing now? — I asked. Of course, he just really wants to go and progress, in which we agree.
At last, around 06:17 UTC we rounded Cape Horn and entered the Atlantic Ocean.

We congratulated each other with a manly, honest, back-slapping hug. Two miles from the rock we drank our mini champagne to the boat and to Neptune. We took a few photos, admired the place for a little while, and then sailed on. I’ve got to admit, I got into the festive mood, partly due to the champagne, but these were really nice moments. A few minutes later when we jibed, I was still a little bit tipsy, it was an interesting feeling. Humble happiness ?! The wind hasn’t changed, we could as well eat the routing, as nothing is true of it, so we go on the traditional way, following the map and our personal decisions.

We thought we should cross the Strait of Le Maire, west from the Los Estados island, rounding Falkland from the west. But in order to do this, we would need the wind to blow accordingly. With this, it’s a serious responsibility to enter the strait. We still have 35 miles, we’ll see until then.  Basically, two thing have changed since we rounded Cape Horn: the water is called something else, plus the waves are not so aggressive any more. It’s still wet and terribly cold.

Yaaayy, I’m so happy we are going towards home! – I say to myself, while my fingers freeze to the keyboard. It’s impossible to just get out of this completely different planet where we’ve been fighting for weeks by crossing one line. It’s going to take quite a few days to reach nicer conditions where the temperature is enjoyable for us. I look back on the past few days when we were escaping from the 948 hPa monster, I was even afraid to imagine what would happen if our wind leaves us in trouble there and we can’t escape…

On the other side of the Cordilleras the winds are raging, while over here I was able to actually walk along the deck without holding onto something.

22:56 UTC in the night, 

After a while, poetic pictures and adjectives run out, and I just rather stay with the dry description of the happenings. We peacefully progress towards to strait, the sky is beautiful blue, the wind is invariably coming from South-East. We are sailing on one tack towards to middle of the strait, or a little bit above that, closer to the island to have space beneath in case anything happens. The wind is continuously increasing, at 16 knots I reef the second line, at 22 knots I exchange the solent for stay. C is awakening, I call him to come outside, the island looks beautiful and the clouds seem very interesting. While our wind increases to 27 knots, a big cirrus is attached to the sky as if it had been painted by the North-Westerly. By the time we are done admiring it, our wind rapidly decreases, in the end it is only 5 knots, which turned around to be North-Westerly. We have to change for bigger sails. We are in the middle of the strait, and the island is beneath us, so we have no space to waste in this new wind. Our new wind increases faster than I’m writing. We roll up the solent, hoist the stay. We didn’t see that because of the reacher’s sheet, which pushes the luffing sail up, we roll a little “carrot” into the roll. This means there is a little part up there, which is looser. By the time we are ready with everything, we have turned to port tack, we let down the daggerboard and continue pushing it. By this time, in the newly strengthened 27 knots wind, the top of the rolled up solent starts luffing. In situations like this, there is nothing left to do but unroll and roll it again. In the meantime we are running towards the island with 15 knots. We are lucky, the wind turns just enough for us to pass the northern corner of the island, but such big waves are coming against us, we fall in every five metres Baaannnggggg, times every twenty minutes! Between two falls the keel flexibly swings, enormous powers are traveling inside the structure. This goes on for 40 minutes until we get out of the strait.

At the moment, we are sailing in 30 knots of wind, in the perfect direction. I’ve crossed this strait for the third time, but it has never made me and the boat work so hard. After all, we are progressing, we are in one piece, everything is all right, and I am still happy that we are not stuck over there on the other side.

On 16th March at 23 00 UTC our position is: 54° 17,7′ S, 064° 33,8′ W, the Horn is behind us!

16 March 2015 Barcelona World Race

Congratulations to Nandor Fa for his fourth and to Conrad Colman for his second and SOH 60′ did her first rounding of the famous Cape!

SOH BWR CAPE HORN 2015 03 16 ©Spirit of Hungary  DSC_0951-1

Spirit of Hungary Imoca 60′ BWR 2014-15 CAPE HORN 2015 03 16 ©Spirit of Hungary DSC_0951-1


In the early morning we received a short message from the boat: SOH is very near to the Cape, 16th 03  01 00 UTC position 56° 02′ S, 068° 23,8′ W,  1° Cape to Horn probably One more gibe to do,  60 m water depth, lighter wind and waves.

NANDOR FA Skipper’s log  15-16 th March,

07 20 UTC – preparing his fourth rounding – for Conrad the second.

We progress very well, so far according to the forecast. The afternoon’s forecast promised a little bit more wind and more time to escape at the cape. As far as we see now, we’ll have about 5 – 6 hours benefit. The whole afternoon we’ve sailed with a reefed main sail and reacher, in the good direction. In the evening we changed the reacher for J2, which seemed to be the right choice for the night as the wind is going to increase.

I’m sailing in the night, and it’s increasing step by step. Though I don’t need that, it’s perfect like this now.

Yesterday I was a little bit down. Any time I went to the bow, I found a buckle of water at the keel, I kept taking it out through the main entrance. I can’t open the deck window because human-size splashes keep coming without a pause. I’ve tried. I couldn’t understand where is all the water from, since I took out everything carefully, with a sponge, and I checked all the bolts whether they leak. I double checked everything several times, then I realized the window was not fully closed and every bigger wave came in through the small gap. I told C about my discovery, he smiled, maybe he remembered something.

15th March, 19 20, UTC

We’ve had a bouncy ride the whole night, but we keep the rhythm. 30 knots northerly wind has arrived, which is more or less what the forecast said. We are still sailing in these conditions, although it has slightly turned behind us and decreased a few knots. The Pacific says goodbye to us the way it has treated us the whole time – we have not seen its nicest face, although we progressed well.

Now, at 19 00 UTC we still have 110 miles to go, we will pass the line at around 02 00. It will be dark here that time, we rely only on that tiny moon that’s left, which will either show or not. The gale is right on our track, we can’t relax. To be specific, we are now sailing with its fore-wind, the hardest part is expected at the cape tomorrow at noon. We are all right, we just changed, C goes to sleep, it’s my watch now. I’ll cook something, because I’m hungry, plus it kills some time.

We’ve been pushing as hard as possible. We were beating until the afternoon, when it turned to West within a half an hour. Solent instead of the stay, then reacher. Now the evening’s GRIB says we have the cyclone behind our back, much closer than we had expected. But it stops at the mountains and will continue to South. We are over the line of the Cordilleras, there are only 50 miles left.

I don’t trust the weather for even one moment, I don’t dare to hoist the reacher, we sail with the main and the solent. However, we can’t take the rock’s direction, only above that, so we’ll have to gybe two more times.

We are done with the first one just in time, then the wind turned with us too. Now we are making it towards East, only a little bit more south from that. The next tack will bring us in the direction of the cape, but since this wind was not in the forecast, anything can happen.

It was interesting to cross the depth-line. Within 5 miles, it had changed from 3500 metres to 60. As a result, the waves have become more friendly too, for which I’m really happy, we won’t be plummeting for a while.

16th March, 00 35 UTC

Near to Cape Horn - there are the Cordilleres SPIIRTHU _ 40 SM to CAPE HORN©SpiritHuNFA GOPR1117

Near to Cape Horn – there are the Cordilleres SPIIRTHU _ 40 SM to CAPE HORN©SpiritHuNFA GOPR1117

We’ve slowed together with the wind, at the moment we still have 40 miles to the cape, we won’t round it before 02 UT.
Before it went completely dark we examined the sky and we didn’t see any signs of a storm, so we put the reacher back up to progress better.
C is now sitting outside and watches. Until we pass the zone safely, none of us will sleep, not in the bed anyways.

On 16th March, at 01 00 UTC our position: 56° 02′ S, 068° 23,8′ W, 1° to Cape Horn.

(Translated by Lili Fa)

Ship’s log March 17th Postion: 52 Degrees 45 South 63 Degrees 17 West
Direction: North! Temperature: Rising!

What a difference a day makes. We have escaped the heaping crashing swells of the Pacific Ocean, slipped silently passed the Cape Horn and are now blast reaching to the North under a crystal night sky. Maybe its the euphoria from having made it through the toughest part of our race course in one piece, but the sky is so clear I feel the Milky Way is at arm’s length and I could take Orion’s belt for myself. Its incredibly beautiful.

After missing out on seeing the Isla Hornos despite passing only three miles away, I was particularly keen to head north via the Straights of Le Maire that offer a short cut between the end of the patagonian mainland and Isla de De Los Estados. The straights are known for strong unwieldy currents and strange wind shifts and so it proved to be today. We reached in on an easterly and underneath a small band of cloud the wind did a U turn in 20 seconds and we ended up punching out on a strong north westerly wind that has carried us rapidly up to the Falkland Islands.

It was really special to be able to shave the island on the way as we haven’t seen land since New Zealand (there aren’t any islands that far south in the Pacific) and it was a joy to set our eyes on something that wasn’t moving for a while. The ragged grey cliffs and stunted tussock grass speak volumes about the weather here as any plant with delusions of grandeur would be chewed off by the constant gnawing teeth of the constant gales. There is a rugged timeless beauty in these inhospitable cliffs and valleys and I like passing by the end of the earth knowing that at least this corner of the world will remain untrammelled and might still look how it did centuries ago.

The straights were first discovered by Europeans in 1615 by  Isaac Le Maire, son of wealthy Dutch merchant who was sent to discover alternate trade routes after the northern route through the peninsula was monopolized by the Dutch East India Company. Isaac got to name the straights after his father but named his more important discovery, a new way into the Pacific, after the expedition’s financial sponsors in the small town of Hoorn. While we might not be busting monopolies and redrawing the map, we too are here with the support of sponsors who benefit from our exploits, only in the form of hospitality and exposure instead of names on headlands.

FR. Carnet de bord du 17 mars Position: 52° 45’ Sud et 63° 17’ Ouest Direction: NORD ! Température: en augmentation :-)

C’est impressionnant comme les choses changent d’un jour à l’autre. Nous nous sommes échappés du Pacifique et de sa houle énorme, avons passé discrètement le Cap Horn et filons maintenant au nord sous une belle nuit étoilée. Peut être que je ressens encore l’euphorie d’avoir réussi à arriver jusqu’ici mais j’ai l’impression que la nuit est si claire que la voie lactée est à portée de main et que je pourrais garder la ceinture d’Orion juste pour moi. C’est vraiment magnifique.

Après avoir loupé l’île d’Horn même en passant seulement 3 milles à côté j’étais vraiment heureux de pouvoir passer de jour par le détroit de Le Maire, un raccourci entre la pointe sud de la Patagonie et l’île des Etats. C’est un endroit connu pour ces courants forts et changements de météo brutaux. Nous avons eu la preuve aujourd’hui que cette réputation n’était pas usurpée: nous avons commencé avec un bon vent d’Est et juste au dessous d’une fine bande nuageuse le vent à tourné au nord-ouest en 20 secondes et nous en avons profité pour filer vers les Malouines.

C’était chouette de pouvoir passer si proche d’une île alors que nous n’avons pas vu de terre depuis la Nouvelle-Zélande (il n’y a pas d’îles si loin au sud dans le Pacifique) et c’est toujours agréable de pouvoir regarder quelque chose qui ne bouge pas pour quelques temps! Les falaises grises et vides, les quelques touffes d’herbe expriment bien la rudesse du climat. C’est sûr que n’importe quelle plante avec des envies de grandeur serait vite ramenée à la réalité par l’une des nombreuses tempêtes qui sévissent sur ces terres toute l’année. Dans cet endroit inhospitalier, je me plais à penser que ce sont des endroits qui ne seront jamais habités, transformés et qu’ils sont tels qu’ils l’étaient il y a plusieurs siècles.

Ces détroits ont été découverts par les Européens au 17ème siècle, plus précisément par Isaac le Maire, le fils d’un riche marchant hollandais qui avait été envoyé là-bas pour découvrir de nouvelles routes commerciales après que les routes du nord aient été monopolisées par une autre compagnie. Isaac nomma le détroit du nom de son père mais la découverte la plus importante, un nouvel accès au Pacifique, fût nommée après son sponsor à l’époque: la ville de Hoorn qui avait financé son expédition! Bon, on n’est plus en train de redessiner les cartes ou d’essayer d’échapper à des monopoles commerciaux mais on est toujours là grâce à des sponsors qui profitent un peu différemment de l’exposition de nos aventures!

CONRAD COLMAN co-skipper’s Ship’s log March 16

Finally, we see the light! Only this time it’s not a light at end of a tunnel but the lonely flash of the lighthouse at Cabo De Hornos! We’ve made it. The Pacific is behind us, we get to put the indicator on and turn left for home. After the problems and frustrations we have encountered, and overcome to get here, all seems possible now.

Instead of running for our lives with a monster depression at our heels, as the wind ignored the forecast and dropped until we were gliding along in just over 10 knots of wind. The drama was reserved for the heavens however, as sunset brought a yellow and pinkish hue that was diffused by the indigo blue and purple storm clouds that threatened us from behind. In the light winds we could play the tourist, sneaking passed the rock just three miles off, giving us time enough to pay tribute to Neptune and all those sailors whose wakes we crossed.

Turning points in life, whether litteral or figurative, always mean something new. Passing the Horn meant new fishing grounds for Nantucket whalers, new trade routes for Europeans hunting spices and a new chance for exhausted sailors on racy Clipper ships. But above all, passing Cape Horn means  new hope. Hope for a better future and faith in calmer seas!

I was inspired to take up a life at sea by Sir Peter Blake- Kiwi adventurer, environmentalist and ruthless competitor in the Whitbread (now Volvo Ocean Race). Hearing his voice on a crackly radio telling tall tales of daring do while trading blows with his competitors in between the icebergs of the Southern Ocean ignited my imagination as a young boy and continues to drive me today. His era is over, race directors protect us from our dangerous competitive spirits, but his capacity to do whatever it took to get the job done has certainly characterised Nandor’s  and my race so far.

It took “Blakey” a two failed attempts at the race before he finally put together a winning campaign so I am far from dispirited by where we are now. On the contrary, to be able to gain more experience, go round the Horn again and pay homage to all who came before me is so precious. I look forward to coming back to this sacred place for sailors and to be trading blows like Blakey when I do!

FR: Carnet de bord du 16 mars: le Cap Horn!

On voit finalement la lumière! Enfin ce n’est pas la lumière au bout du tunnel mais le flash du phare de Cabo de Hornos! On y est! Le Pacifique est derrière nous, on peut tourner à gauche et mettre le cap sur la maison. Après tous les problèmes et la frustration que nous avons dû affronter pour arriver ici, tout nous parait possible.

Au lieu de nous laisser nous échapper le plus vite possible avec une énorme dépression sur nos talons, le vent a décidé d’ignorer les prévisions et de diminuer considérablement jusqu’à 10 nœuds pour notre passage! Le côté dramatique était réservé au ciel avec un coucher de soleil rose orangé qui contrastait avec les nuages bleus et gris de la tempête derrière nous. Avec des vents si légers nous avons pu jouer les touristes et nous sommes passé à seulement 3 milles du rocher, nous laissant le temps de rendre hommage à Neptune et tous les marins qui ont navigué ici avant nous!

Les tournants dans la vie, que ce soit au sens propre comme au figuré, ça veut toujours dire quelque chose de nouveau. Le Cap Horn signifiait de nouvelles eaux de pêche pour les balainiers de Nantucket, de nouvelles routes commerciales pour les Européens à la recherche d’épices et une nouvelle chance pour les marins des Clippers. Mais passer le Cap Horn c’est surtout un nouvel espoir, celui d’un futur meilleur avec des mers un peu plus calmes!

J’ai commencé à rêver de devenir skipper en entendant les récits d’aventures de Peter Blake, un néo-zélandais aventurier, environnementaliste et impitoyable compétiteur dans la Whitbread (aujourd’hui Volvo Ocean Race). Entendre sa voix parmi les grésillements de la radio en pleine bataille dans le Pacifique Sud, entre les icebergs, avait le don de mettre en route mon imagination d’enfant et cela continue à me motiver maintenant. Les choses ont beaucoup évolué aujourd’hui et les directeurs de course nous protègent plus et nous empêchent de trop jouer avec le feu mais la détermination dont Peter Blake faisait preuve est certainement comparable avec notre philosophie, Nandor et moi, dans cette course.

Il a fallu 2 échecs à «Blakey» pour arriver à monter un projet gagnant et je garde toujours cela dans un coin de ma tête. Je suis content de pouvoir avoir cette expérience et de rendre hommage à tous ceux qui sont passés ici avant nous et j’ai hâte d’y revenir dans le futur!