John Kostecki's illbruck Challenge rounding Cape Horn
We finally passed the Horn this morning at dawn. It wasn't the typical type of sailing you read about as kid....gale force winds and rough seas. We had 20 knots running with a spinnaker and a mild seaway. The sky was clear and the sun was just rising. What did we do? Some of us smoked cigars and we had a team photo with the famous Cape Horn in the background. Everyone was extremely happy to see Cape Horn as we passed only 1 mile away. Most of us waved goodbye to the Southern Ocean as we turned the corner and headed north.
As we race north to Rio now the sun is shining, we are tidying things up, putting away the goggles and breaking out our Kaenon polarized sunglasses. It was only 24 hours ago that we had snow and ice on the deck. The Southern Ocean was brutal. Not only was it tough physically and mentally, but just plain scary as we saw so many icebergs and growlers...and we could not pick up the growlers on the radar, so we were basically blind at night. In the future, this race should have a southern most waypoint that is above the iceberg line in which the fleet cannot pass.
After rounding the Horn today we ran downwind 100 miles to the Estrecho de Le Maire. This is a 20 mile wide channel between the eastern tip of Argentina and an island, Isla de los Estrados. In this channel the current accelerates up to 8 knots in places. It is key to go through this area with the current otherwise you could be sitting there for 6 hours waiting for the tide to change. Fortunately we hit this tide gate perfectly and took advantage of a 4-5 knots current boost. We hope our competitors are not so lucky.
We still have over 2000 miles to go and the fleet is still close after racing for 4500 miles. This next bit up to Rio will be very difficult tactically. Do you cover the fleet or do we go with what we think is best? Tough call and unfortunately the weather is constantly changing in this part of the world. I think this race is far from over and as usual we will see the bulk of the fleet finish together in Rio.
Page three... Mark Rudiger and a special delivery