Volvo Ocean Race towards Cape Horn
Having spent three weeks licking their wounds in Auckland following leg three
of the Volvo Ocean Race from Sydney, the VOR fleet set sail on the fourth leg
last Saturday. Thousands of spectators lined the banks of Auckland's harbour to
bid farewell to the eight-strong fleet as they headed off along the Rangitoto
Channel on their 6,700 nm race to Rio de Janerio via Cape Horn.
Mark Rudiger from Assa Abloy reflected the views of many when he commented: "For
most of us, getting through this leg of the Southern Ocean, and around the Horn,
is like reaching the peak of Mount Everest. It is the moment you want to savour,
and then you want to get the hell out of there."
After a brief 20-knot blaster from the start line out in to the Hauraki Gulf,
it became a navigator's nightmare once again with the fleet reaching a virtual
standstill round the top of New Zealand. The aim was to track south as soon as
possible in an effort to dodge the high pressure system that lingered over the
east coast but it soon became a lottery as boats struggled to catch the zephyrs
But the proof of the pudding, to see whether the VO60s can really stand up to
the Southern Ocean battering, will soon start to tell as they enter the 60 knot
wind, huge sea zone. They have already been giving a good pounding with more than
their fair share of upwind work during the previous three legs but as the leading
boats are pushed to the limit in the extreme conditions, it will be here, if anywhere
that structural failures will occur.
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