This was more like weather to topple over their owners too – and send everything cartwheeling down the Cape Town V&A dockside in the early evening sunshine. Well, nearly.
Sailors are hardly the breed to complain about too much breeze but up to 35 knots for the Leg 2 opening circuits around Table Bay followed by warnings of possible tropical storms and even cyclones obviously gave an extra sharpener to their usual departure day nerves.
The fans were soon treated to a real sailing treat – make that masterclass – as the seven skippers battled to keep their Volvo Ocean 65s in check as the winds whipped over the Bay, churning up a procession of white-capped waves.
'Don’t break your boat' was the name of the game with the best part of the 6,125 nautical miles (nm) to Abu Dhabi left to go, and all the shore crews must have had their hearts in their mouths on at least one occasion in the opening hour.
The Spanish boat, with two new crew members, and so much to prove after finishing seventh and last of the Leg 1 finishers on November 7, were quickest out of the block and raced to the opening marks while all the time wrestling with sails refusing to be easily controlled under near gale-force winds.
Soon enough, though, the fleet bunched up before Team SCA, danders up, snuck leeward of the rest to pinch a slight lead.
Team Brunel, however, soon found the better pressure and took the honours to lead the fleet out of Cape Town bay and out towards the Southern Ocean, followed closely by MAPFRE and then Team SCA.
Interestingly, the early Race leaders, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, were not taking any unnecessary chances and deliberately chose to choke down on sail choice behind the early pacesetters.
Ahead lay the best part of two days of tough, downwind sailing and then further afield the possibilities of tropical storms and even cyclones which race management has attempted to steer the fleet clear of with exclusion zones.
Ian Walker, certainly, was taking nothing for granted beforehand.
He was asked on Tuesday if there was such a thing as ‘home advantage’ in sailing with his team heading towards their home port in this leg.
“First we have to get there,” he smiled ruefully. “I’ll just be happy just to get within range and then arrive in Abu Dhabi. There’s a fantastic welcome for everybody in store once we get there, that’s for sure.”
Hold on to your hats, then, for up to 28 days of pure offshore drama before the 66 sailors finally arrive safely in the Emirates.
Team Vestas Wind surprised onlookers when a spectator boat burst into song just prior to the start with a local choir. Their message was simple: There's an even more important race we must win – to save the environment.