Cape Horn, bergs and a storm await battered global race fleet

Sat Mar 28, 2015 6:21am EDT
 
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ALICANTE, Spain (Reuters) - Volvo Ocean Race's six-strong fleet, already battered by the Southern Ocean, sails in to the toughest part of the nine-month marathon offshore challenge over the next two days.

It is now heading for Cape Horn in southern Chile, a graveyard for countless sailors since it was first used as a trading route in the early 17th century.

The region is the only time in the 38,738-nautical mile race where the boats are likely to see icebergs and to complicate matters, a huge storm is building up behind them in the Southern Ocean.

Earlier on Saturday, 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 was becoming "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 told Reuters 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."

Dongfeng was one of three boats to narrowly avoid capsizing earlier in the week when they crashed over on their sides midway through the Southern Ocean on the 6,776nm leg -- a so-called 'Chinese gybe' or 'death roll'.

Miraculously, all the crews avoided anything more serious than cuts and bruises and damage to boats have been repaired on the move.   Continued...

 
A helicopter flies over as Volvo Ocean Race teams (from R to L) Telefonica, Abu Dhabi, Camper, Puma, Groupama and Sanya sail during their in-port race in Sanya, Hainan province, in a file photo.  REUTERS/China Daily