The Evil Side of the South Pacific

Published on March 28th, 2018

In anticipation of the seventh leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, there was no confusion for what lied ahead. When you plot a course from New Zealand to Cape Horn, the route takes you toward where icebergs live. And when you add the formidable forecast, one sees the evil side of the South Pacific.

“It’s going to be bloody cold,” said Bouwe Bekking, the skipper of Team Brunel, in advance of the start. “100% of the sailors that have done this leg have at one moment said it is too hard or too tough,” added Charles Caudrelier, the skipper of Dongfeng Race Team.

But this edition may have redefined hard.

“The Southern Ocean has been especially tough this year, it has been more relentless and unforgiving than I can ever remember,” said Simon Fisher, the navigator of Vestas 11th Hour Racing who is on his fifth race. “In the last week it feels if we have been battered by storm after storm. And yet another squall is never far away.

“As the clouds that bring the squalls roll by we are hit by 35-40 knot gusts not to mention a mixture of hail and snow. The novelty of making snowballs has long since worn off. This is sailing at its most extreme.

“On deck it is only two degrees, the water temperature a little warmer at five. It feels like winter down here and the nights have been long. Everyone is tired as the relentless speed and lack of sleep after countless manoeuvres has worn everyone down. Their resilience is impressive though as they steadily battle on.

“As we brace ourselves for the final few days of strong winds, Cape Horn cannot come soon enough.”

God-willing, the ETA for rounding Cape Horn is near midday (UTC) on March 29.


COURSE: Starting on March 18, Leg 7 takes the teams from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajaí, Brazil. Race organizers choose to estimate the tactical distance for each leg rather than list the actual distance, an unusual decision that’s revealed once the race starts and the tracker lists the actual distance to finish. The VOR says Leg 7 is 7600 nm whereas the truth is more like 6623 nm with an ETA in Itajaí between April 4 and 6.

For crew lists … click here.

Race detailsTrackerScoreboardRace routeFacebookYouTube

2017-18 Edition: Entered Teams – Skippers
Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED)
Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA)
MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP)
Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA)
Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS)
Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR)
Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED)

Background: Racing the one design Volvo Ocean 65, the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race begins in Alicante, Spain on October 22 2017 with the final finish in The Hague, Netherlands on June 30 2018. In total, the 11-leg race will visit 12 cities in six continents: Alicante, Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport, Cardiff, Gothenburg, and The Hague. A maximum of eight teams will compete.

Source: Volvo Ocean Race

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