Stage 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race got underway yesterday from Cape Town, South Africa as the teams head into the Southern Ocean for the first time. This next leg of the race promises to be a challenging one, as strong winds appeared just prior to the restart.
The seven ships taking part in this year’s edition of the round-the-world sailing event departed Cape Town and are now under sail for Melbourne, Australia. This stage of the race will cover approximately 6500 nautical miles (7480 miles/12,038 km) and will include a trip round the infamous Cape of Good Hope before the crews take a hard left turn and plunge south to the Souther Ocean. The route will take them through the Westerly Storm Track, a section of water that is notorious for its bad weather, before heading north once again to cross the Great Australian Bight and the Bass Strait on their way into Melbourne. They are expected to arrive there sometime around December 27.
On Saturday, just prior to the teams setting out on Stage 3, the “Cape Doctor” arrived in South Africa. This strong southeasterly wind brought sustained 40 knot (46 mph/74 km/h) winds with gusts up to 60 knots (69 mph/111 km/h). By Sunday, those winds had died down some but were still hitting 25-35 knots. That made for a blistering start with the ships finding plenty of breeze to help push them along. A high pressure front arrived today however to provide a bit of calm before facing the challenges that await.
The wild Southern Ocean will now test the crews. Known for its big waves, terrible storms, and high winds, this body of water surrounds Antarctica but has no other land masses to impede the progress of its winds and weather. That leads to some absolutely massive storms at times and cold, biting Antarctic winds are the norm. This will certainly not be a pleasure cruise for the members of each of the teams as they battle to be the fastest team to arrive in Melbourne.
You can follow all of the action and get regular updates on the Volvo Ocean Race website. The team there does a great job of not only providing plenty of news and insights into the race, but offering video and photos too.
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