Volvo Ocean Race Teams Sail Round Cape Horn and Out of Southern Ocean

More news from the Volvo Ocean Race today, where teams have now completed the crossing of the Southern Ocean and have round Cape Horn in South America to begin their journey north to Itajaí, Brazil. But, as expected, the crossing of the southernmost sea left its mark on the teams, who are battered and a bit beleaguered as they limp towards the finish line on the longest stage of this year’s race.

Team Brunei were the first to make it round the Cape, earning them a bonus point in the process. They were followed by Vestas 11th Hour and the other four teams who still have to find the best way to navigate to Itajaí. Some will circle out around the Falkland Islands, while others are likely to stay close to the Argentinian coast as they sail in a northerly direction for the first time in quite some days.

Meanwhile, overall race leader Team MAPFRE had to suspend their racing operations to focus on making repairs to a mast track, They’ve been battling the problem for five days, and have continued to jury rig solutions, but with the challenging crossing of the Cape ahead of them, they decided it was best to make a more permanent fix. There is still 2000 miles (3218 km) to go until this stage is done, and fixing the issue now will help once they’re steaming north in the Atlantic.

The teams are reportedly exhausted after a difficult crossing of the Southern Ocean, which included winds of 35-45 knots and sometimes massive swells that tossed the boats about. Storms were a constant challenge as well and the crews had little time for rest as they stayed vigilant throughout. Things should be a lot quieter now that they’ve entered the Atlantic Ocean, but they are currently passing through a region that is quite stormy as well where the two oceans meet.

The loss of Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag crew member John Fisher is weighing heavily on the fleet as well. Fisher was well known and well liked in the sailing community, and his death has hit the all of the competitors hard. He was tossed from his ship crossing the Southern Ocean and while his teammates conducted an extensive search no sign of him was ever found. His loss will definitely cast a pall over the remaining stages of the race.

The teams are now expected to start arriving in Itajaí around April 5 or so and they will be in port until April 22. In-between they’ll be conducting in port races and enjoying the Brazil hospitality before starting the next leg, with is a 5700 nautical mile run to Newport in the U.S., the only stopover in North America on this year’s race.

Follow all of the action and updates on the Volvo Ocean Race website.

Kraig Becker