Celebrating sailing’s greatest challenge

Published on November 28th, 2022

An old sailing saying goes, “Below 40 degrees latitude, there is no law; below 50, there is no God.” Cape Horn, the southerly headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, is at 56 degrees south – has an earned reputation of evil.

Located on southern Chile’s Hornos Island, at the southern tip of South America, this rocky point greets the extreme low-pressure systems whirling unobstructed from west to east across the Pacific Ocean, bringing with it massive winds and waves.

As the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans meet, the ocean floor rises sharply from 4,020 meters to 100 meters within a few kilometers, spiking the waves even further. Add in frigid water temperatures, it explains the interest to build the Panama Canal.

But for round the world yacht races, and sailors seeking the greatest challenge, rounding Cape Horn offers that reward. However, in the scope of achievements, fewer people can claim the accomplishment than have climbed the Mount Everest since the initial summit in 1953.

Keeping score on the feat is the International Association of Cape Horners which also has inaugurated a Cape Horn Hall Fame to honor the names of famous Cape Horners past and present.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo non-stop around the Globe, has accepted the appointment of President of the International Association of Cape Horners. In addition the French solo sailing legend Jean-Luc van den Heede has accepted the appointment of Vice President.

“Sir Robin and Jean-Luc are two of the biggest names in ocean sailing and their reputation and standing within the sport reflect the aims of our International Association in celebrating and promoting all those who complete a Cape Horn rounding under sail and meet the IACH eligibility criteria,” said Ashley Manton, Chairman of IACH.

“Sir Robin has played an active and encouraging role throughout his long period in the Association. Together with Jean-Luc, they have been very supportive in working with the Committee to set up a unique modern-day register of all those who have completed circumnavigations via the three Great Capes – Good Hope, Leeuwin, and Cape Horn and in instigating the IACH Cape Horn Hall of Fame.

“We very much welcome their expertise and support in encouraging sailors from all backgrounds to take on the challenge of rounding Cape Horn which is recognized by sailors across the Globe as the ‘Everest of sailing’

Following the successful induction of 28 historic and pioneering names in the first IACH Cape Horn Hall of Fame held in Les Sables d’Olonne in September 2022, nominations have opened (click here) to select six new inductees in 2023.

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