Volvo Ocean Race Fleet Doubles Cape Horn

It’s been the best of times and the worst of times for the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race fleet as it battles its way through the Southern Ocean toward home. 
Author:
Publish date:
Updated on
 Brunel and MAPFRE are neck-and-neck as they round Cape Horn. Photo courtesy of VOR/Rick Tomlinson

Brunel and MAPFRE are neck-and-neck as they round Cape Horn. Photo courtesy of VOR/Rick Tomlinson

It’s been the best of times and the worst of times for the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race fleet as it battles its way through the Southern Ocean toward home.

Alvimedica, with U.S. skipper Charlie Enright in charge, led the way past “Cape Stiff,” as the old-timers used to call it, on March 30, with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam, Dutch-flagged Brunel and MAPRE hot on its heals.

 Charlie Enright (left) and teammate Mark Towill celebrate their Cape Horn rounding. Photo courtesy of VOR/Amory Ross

Charlie Enright (left) and teammate Mark Towill celebrate their Cape Horn rounding. Photo courtesy of VOR/Amory Ross

Less fortunate was Chinese-flagged Dongfeng, which had been tied for first overall with Azzam when the fleet set out from Auckland on March 17, but was dismasted on the same day just hours before turning the corner.

“The mast broke without warning in about 30 knots of wind. We are unable to sail safely on starboard tack, but we are able to make reasonable speed on port tack,” reported Dongfeng’s French skipper Charles Caudrelier.

Although details as to the team’s immediate future and what went wrong remain somewhat murky, what is known is that the mast broke without warning above the second spreader and that the boat has diverted to the Argentinian port of Ushuaia at the tip of South America.

Caudrelier has yet to decide whether the boat will withdraw from the leg completely or try to effect the necessary repairs to carry on in the interest of still collecting some points that will go toward the overall standings

"I’m gutted. As you’ve seen from the position reports we have been, on purpose, backing off a bit, not attacking in any way,” Caudrelier said afterward. “It’s really hard for everyone, we were leading the race overall and this is a kick in the teeth. Hurts to think about the other teams still in full competition, still sailing.”

 Just another day at the office aboard Azzam off Cape Horn. Photo courtesy of VOR/Mat Knighton

Just another day at the office aboard Azzam off Cape Horn. Photo courtesy of VOR/Mat Knighton

As for Swedish-flagged SCA, things were equally frustrating as the crew continued to limp through the Southern Ocean without its fractional Code Zero, which was damaged as the result of an out-of-control gybe. “We can’t take any more risk with the sails that are left because we need them on the way from Cape Horn to Itajaí,” said skipper Sam Davies, as she and the rest of the crew fell farther and farther behind. The good news is that once in the Southern Atlantic, the more moderate weather may allow her to get some miles back.

Meanwhile, at the front of the pack, life may be better, but it’s hardly a walk in the park, as the competition remains tighter than ever. As has been the case throughout this round-the-world regatta, the teams have often been in sight of one another, on at least one occasion crossing within mere boat lengths of one another even after weeks of racing. Despite the extreme conditions, the time differences are once again little more than what you would expect in an inshore buoy race.

Alvimedica and MAPFRE have a close crossing deep in the Southern Ocean

“This is pretty special for us,” Alvimedica’s Enright said on being the first to make the turn north, but he added that the race was far from over and there are no points for being the first round the Horn. “We can see Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing behind. The match-racing continues. Keep the focus!”

“I’m just happy to get here safely. That’s the main thing,” said Azzam skipper Ian Walker, who rounded the Horn a mere 15 minutes behind. “There is still a long way to go, but it’s a big relief. And it’s an even bigger relief because we’re in good shape.”

As for MAPFRE and Brunel a mere two minutes separate as they passed the iconic cape. Currently, the leaders are expected at the finish in Itajaí, Brazil, April 4-5. As tough as things have been in the Southern Ocean, the competition could get even more brutal between now and then.

Related

Tilly-1

Gear: Tilley Polaris Hat

A True Blue Tilley Sailing is all about fun in the sun, but it sometimes doesn’t take long to get too much of a good thing, especially when on a prolonged cruise or offshore passage. Enter the Tilley Polaris, the latest lid developed by iconic Canadian hat-maker Tilley. ...read more

Sand-TOWEL_MODEL-3

CGear Sand-Free Beach Towel

Sand Be Gone! The summer is hot and full of terrors—not the least of which is the sand that sticks in your beach towel in the hopes of a free ride back to your car or boat. Fortunately, there's now the CGear Sand-Free Beach Towel, engineered in polyester to not only dry quickly ...read more

01-Blowup-Tiwal2_sailing-(3)

Gear: Tiwal Inflatable Sailing Dinghy

Blow-up Boating A few years ago, the French company Tiwal arrived on U.S. shores with that most improbable of products, an inflatable sailing dinghy that actually sails the way a boat is supposed to. Now, nearly 1,000 Tiwal 3’s later, the company is back with its Tiwal 2, an ...read more

Koozy

Gear: 22 Below Koozie

Killer Koozie For all that sailors love the warmth of this time of year, that same warmth can also wreak havoc on their otherwise icy-cold beers. (Unless, of course, you drink them very, very fast. But we won’t go there.) To help deal with this terrible hardship, North ...read more

Cool-Specs

Gear: Gill's Race Fusion Sunglasses

Wicked Cool Specs Is there anything in the world of sailing more fun than a cool pair of shades? Heck, no! And it would hard to find a cooler pair than these new Race Fusion specs from longtime weather-gear manufacture Gill. In addition to looking great, they include a number of ...read more

North_new

Gear: North Sails Waterproof Pack

A few years ago, North Sails made a big push into the apparel business with all kinds of sharp-looking button-down shirts, shorts and fleeces. That doesn’t mean, though, that the North Sails Collection isn’t still plenty practical, as is evident in its new roll-over waterproof ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Sort the charts  Lying here on the cockpit seat is my iPad, loaded with Navionics charts. It’s a classic example of the benefits of GPS-assisted paper chart navigation and the wonderful electronics ...read more